Come next year, Education Minister, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine said that there will be a continued commitment to improving the administration of the education sector in more efficient ways.
He said that there will be focus on the oversight of the 11 education districts as well as setting benchmarks for the dozens of private schools countrywide.
Dr. Roopnaraine said that some of the key objectives of the upcoming year will be to improve teacher training in keeping with priority areas for education; increase instructional time for students; improve upon monitoring and evaluation; better supervision of capital projects; and enhancing the internal efficiency of the ministry.
He said that initiatives in this regard, are in recognition that there are three critical fronts from which his Ministry needs to engage in education sector enhancement. He listed these to be; Pedagogy, Service Delivery, and Innovation.
With regard to pedagogy, the Education Minister reminded that the Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan had highlighted in his presentation that the education system is in a crisis.
“When I first took up the privilege of this position, I spoke to the need for the creation of an evidence-based intervention into stemming this situation and adequately retooling this sector for the invaluable role it is to play in our development.”
Dr. Roopnaraine said that the Commission of Inquiry into the Education Sector, which launched its first public consultations in April of this year, is wrapping up its investigations this month and will be presenting its findings to the public by the end of the first quarter of 2017.
Without prejudice to the recommendations of that report, he said that there are certain preliminary presumptions that can be made with regard to improving service delivery in the sector.
He said that the budget for 2017 has been crafted with these in mind, particularly those which deal with the area of pedagogy, that is, the method and practice of teaching.
Dr. Roopnaraine reminded, too, that the Finance Minister spoke about the $337.4 million allocated for the Programme for Emergency Education Reform (PEER) initiative. He said that this follows on from several measures initiated by the Ministry since 2015, with the central component of it being the first significant and most sweeping curriculum reform in almost two decades.
“Why this is important is that, when it comes to education, 20 years from the beginning of the new millennium is exponentially different than the 20 years prior when it comes to the advances made in the crucial education areas of science and technology. We are not only confronted with a plethora of new areas of knowledge, but an almost equally dazzling array of ways in which to learn them.
“And considering that underlying much of this new knowledge is one area in which we’ve had cause for serious concern in, mathematics, the PEER initiative will focus heavily on improving math scores through comprehensive diagnosis of current constraints, methodology review, and the recruitment of a cadre specialists for targeted interventions.”
The Education Minister added, “This does not mean of course that work has not started in other areas, work which in sum aids in the presumptive directions in which we need to take curriculum development.
The invaluable progress the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) has been making in 2016 will continue in 2017 in the core areas of Curriculum Development, Special Needs Education Training and Awareness, Literacy, and ICT integration.”
Last November, Dr. Roopnaraine said that 50 participants, including head teachers and Deputy Education Officers from selected regions, were trained in an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) initial workshop.
“In 2017, we will see not only the approval of the ESD policy and implementation of a supporting action plan, but also closer collaboration between the Science Unit and CPCE, in addition to a stronger public awareness programme on the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education,” he said.
“Even as we push forward with a strong STEM programme, we will not lose sight of the important role that arts education has to play in creating a well-rounded, civic-minded student and in laying the educational foundation for our future creative leaders.”
The Education Minister said that while in 2016 there was an increase in students enrolling in the expressive arts, sports education accounted for the majority of that increase, while visual arts saw a worrying trend in decreased enrollments.
“In 2017, we intend to target this decline with the training of 132 teachers in multiple visual arts disciplines and across more than half of the education districts. We will also continue to enhance our teacher training programme in music, drama and dance, and will equip another three schools with steel bands, bring the total so far to around 24.”
In the area of Service Delivery, the Education Minister said that 2017 will see his Ministry continuing the coordinating, monitoring and evaluating activities of the 2014-2018 Strategic Education Plan. He said that there will be particular focus on the implementation of regional plans, enhancing programmes to ensure that schools are certifiable as child-friendly spaces, integrating climate change education more meaningfully into the curriculum, and strengthening the working relationship between international partners such as
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in particular.
Dr. Roopnaraine also stated that at the University of Guyana, his Ministry is currently finalizing the construction of a new 300-seat lecture theatre as well as a new student services building.
In 2017, he said that his Ministry will be commencing the construction of a new school of medicine on campus. Under the Yesu Persaud endowment, the Ministry will also construct a facility for clinical services at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
In 2017, The Education Minister said that his Ministry will also be looking at ways to intensify and diversify the work undertaken by the Monitoring, Evaluating, Reporting and Development Unit.
He said that this means not simply reviewing its internal operations and engagement with schools, but also exploring ways to solicit information more directly from those the education system is meant to serve.
“If there is any lesson the past year has taught us, it is that we have to find more efficient ways, beyond even the Parent Teachers’ Association system, of listening to people on how they feel the education system is working and how it is not. It is only then we can really develop and implement holistic solutions to our many and increasingly complex challenges.”
In the area of innovation, Dr. Roopnaraine said that efforts in 2017 will be geared towards harnessing the tremendous power of information and communication technologies. He said that ICT remains at the heart of his Ministry’s plans for improving the education sector in service of national development.
At the Cyril Potter College of Education, Dr. Roopnaraine said that training will continue to roll out in the newly established Smart Classrooms as well as the new language laboratory.
He said, “And we can expect both improved internet connection on campus and a new website which will feature content created by students. This is a core part of our commitment to improve the competence and qualification of our teachers even as we establish high-level standards of teaching that we expect them to adhere to.”