A phased revision of public schools curricula will be among the key tactics employed to realize improved performances of students within the education system.
This deliberate move will be implemented through the Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project (GESIP) which is being executed by the Ministry of Education. The project, which is receiving funding from the World Bank to the tune of US$6 million, is designed to target students at the nursery, primary and lower secondary levels.
Through the project, which commenced in 2017 with an expiration date of 2023, it is expected that students’ learning will be improved in each subject area and by extension at each grade level.
Commenting on the project, Senior Public Relations Officer, Brushell Blackman, said that although the project has a specified culmination date, “this is not to say that the components of the project will drag on until then.”
The project, he explained, is being done in components including: teacher training; development of a curriculum framework and teaching guides; strengthening of national assessment capacity and the crafting of suitable teaching and learning materials.
Based on the project specifications, these will be achieved by the implementation of measures to improve the way content is taught with an emphasis on interactive, student-centered pedagogies, social inclusion and gender informed approaches.
Details of the project states that efforts will be made to build capacity for continuous improvement in the education system even as the touted reforms were phased in by subject and level.
“Guided by an overall curriculum framework, each subject course outline would be revised including revised teaching methods, assessments, and materials and implemented in a set of pilot schools,” according to information from the Ministry.
As such, schools chosen to pilot the project will represent different regions of Guyana including schools in the Hinterland regions and riverine areas; different levels of student preparation and academic performance; different sizes and mixes of grade levels; and schools with students with disabilities.
“The pilot schools would be randomly assigned from a sampling frame in selected regions to enable an impact evaluation. The experience of the pilot schools and feedback gathered from beneficiaries would inform further revisions before the new subject curriculum is scaled up nationwide,” according to information provided by Blackman.
The first subject curriculum to be revised, piloted, and scaled up nationwide would be primary-level mathematics, in view of Guyana’s particular weakness in mathematics and the critical importance of improving early grade outcomes for students’ future success.
Drawing on this experience, the project would then repeat the process for secondary-level mathematics and primary-level English, followed in later years by secondary English and other subjects, as well as the nursery curriculum.
Since assuming office in 2015, the A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government has called for measures to improve the performances of students, particularly in the areas of mathematics at the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) level. In this regard, a number of measures have been implemented to improve the quality of teachers, the curriculum and by extension students’ performance.
As part of the intervention to improve performances in Mathematics, Chief Education Officer, Mr. Marcel Hutson, had shared the importance of training of teachers in content and methodology; establishment of cluster meetings in regions where it was feasible; purchasing of textbooks and materials to pupils to have hands-on experience and amplifying the notion of public awareness through music, drama, the use of the internet, radio and newspapers to encourage parents to be involved.
Moves were made to introduce Maths Clinics for NGSA pupils, a tactic spearheaded by the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD).
According to Director of NCERD, Ms. Jennifer Cumberbatch, “what we have done is look at the areas of lack…where the children are not doing very well or they are not understanding, and we are employing methodologies…some teachers are familiar with these but some of them are not familiar so we are reminding them and telling them; we are giving them a lot of hands-on work.”
It is expected that along with GISEP, the work that was set in motion since 2015 will help the public education sector to continue to realise massive improvements.