National caucus targets quality secondary education

Guyana Chronicle
March 13, 2000

A NATIONAL conference on quality secondary education, aimed at improving secondary school learning, will take place on March 31 at the Ocean View Convention Centre, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara. The event is being organised by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Secondary Schools Reform Project (SSRP).

Participants will include senior officials from the Ministry of Education, Regional Education Officers (REOs), Regional Executive Officers (REXO), the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), the University of Guyana (UG), the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), the Teaching Service Commission, Sixth Form students, editors, and other bodies.

Media Coordinator of SSRP, Mr. Geoffrey Smith explained that in preparation for the conference, Regional Education Officers (REOs) canvassed views from citizens in the regions on ways in which secondary education could be improved.

Some of the discussions arising out of the meeting with REOs related to the essential elements of quality secondary education such as: an enhanced curriculum delivery

which would involve field trips and educational tours, the use of multimedia techniques, independent learning and disciplined students, school management techniques (some of which would involve high professional standards), maximum utilisation of available resources, and student governance.

Another element listed was a `school ethos' whereby all stakeholders will share a commitment to instructional goals, priorities, assessment procedures, and accountability. These stakeholders will focus on delivering education in a setting free from all forms of discrimination. There will also be the dissemination of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that will enable the physical, social, spiritual and economic development of students thus enabling them to lead healthy and meaningful lives.

Other ideas mooted are: the provision of dormitory facilities for hinterland and riverain communities: training to encompass content and methodology for teaching; and the use of distance education resources.

Smith added that upon completion of the seminar, a document will be produced on the way forward for secondary education in Guyana.

He said other conferences will be held to gather other views on this issue.

"We want professional people to contribute to this seminar and build a consensus for the way forward for education," the SSRP Official pointed out.

Other objectives of the conference are: to obtain from a wide variety of stakeholders, their views on the essential elements of quality secondary education; to identify the output of quality secondary education; and to identify the priorities for the improvement of secondary education.

Director of SSRP, Dr. Kenneth Hunte, in giving an overview of the activities of the Project, told the Chronicle, that contracts for the rehabilitation of all 12 pilot schools have already been signed to the tune of US$5.2M and all works are expected to be completed by September this year.

Text books will be distributed to schools countrywide to be used in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Reading classes.

Students from the pilots schools will also benefit from laboratory facilities, and video tapes to enhance various subject areas.

Four computers each are to be installed in the pilot schools, but parents will have to provide the necessary software to facilitate expansion of this network.

Speaking on the much anticipated seminar on quality secondary education, Dr. Hunte said it has been a concern to all in the education sector.

"Different people have different ideas of what quality secondary education is all about, that is why we initiated this seminar," he stated.

"We have done consultations with the REOs and we are looking forward to the views of other stakeholders of what is required of young people when they have left school," the SSRP Director said. (STACEY DAVIDSON)