Guyana takes comprehensive approach to education -- President Jagdeo

From Calvin Marshall
Guyana Chronicle
March 4, 2000

THE Government has taken a more comprehensive approach to education to prepare the nation to take its place in the new wave of technology and economic development in the world.

This would necessitate prioritising several major areas in the education system for adjustment to make them more relevant also to the national socioeconomic thrust.

The idea was mooted by President Bharrat Jagdeo while he was delivering the feature address at the recommissioning of the Berbice Educational Institution (BEI) in New Amsterdam, yesterday.

Among the initiatives being adopted are, the provision of more learning facilities, curriculum reform, teachers' training and teachers' remuneration.

According to the President, educators have to improve on their teaching methods because what they teach is as important as how they teach.

With the advent of computer science, in the next ten to 15 years, more people will be using this equipment rather than pens, thereby, utilising less man hours, the President noted. He also stressed the integral role being played by the Secondary School Reform Programme (SSRP) and other education projects in addressing these deficiencies.

As a case in point, the President said 58 per cent more children have access to secondary education compared to 35 per cent between 1993 to 1999, and he underscored the aggressive approach for more youths to benefit from higher learning.

President Jagdeo noted, too, that the many In-Service Training Centres around the country constitute evidence of his administration's commitment to the improvement of teachers' skills.

While he expressed concern about the low salaries for this group of public servants, the President noted that Government's ability to increase the threshold depends on the nation's level of productivity.

The Guyanese leader said, too, that another essential in the reform is the production of more and appropriate textbooks, and he urged parents not to deny their children the opportunity of benefiting from the relevant training for which Government is expending billions of dollars.

The President warned that the exposure of children to the politics of hate, racism and divisiveness being preached today, will rob them of a bright future.

"If we plant the seeds of bigotry and racial stereotype, we are not preparing them for the future. Start by teaching them skills and respect for each other. This will be the best legacy you can leave for your kids," the President advised the large gathering.

Mr Jagdeo alluded to the difficult world environment within which small nations must operate, and said that countries preparing for the coming changes must make education a priority in order to exist.

"This would also mean adjustment in our attitudes and other antisocial behaviour," President Jagdeo told the gathering.

Present at the event were: Chief Education Officer Mr Ed Caesar; People's National Congress (PNC) Parliamentarian Ms Clarissa Riehl (an old student of BEI); and Chairman of Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne), Mr Rohit Persaud.

The new-look school building was rehabilitated and extended by SIMAP at a cost of nearly $31M last year June.

Headmistress of the school, Ms Landomae Fraser, expressed her gratitude for the refurbished facilities and promised that staff will continue to offer "quality training" and also maintain the structure.

Regional Chairman Persaud; Regional Education Officer, Mr M. Khan; and contractor Mr Michael Amerally, also made brief remarks at the ceremony.