More social work now in teacher's job
-- Chief Education Officer

by Sharon Lall
Guyana Chronicle
April 1, 2000

MANY behavioural and social problems are now evident in the classroom, and these demand a social work response from teachers, is the opinion of Chief Education Officer, Mr Ed Caesar.

He felt much more attention has to be given to training institutions if the impact of the delivery of quality secondary education is to be felt in the nation.

Caesar made the observations at a National Conference on Quality Secondary Education, hosted yesterday by the Education Ministry at the Ocean View Convention Centre, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.

"Many behavioural and social problems sit in our classroom...There is more social work in the teacher's job than ever before," he noted.

Caesar said secondary education must not be limited to academic subjects.

"If we are not careful, we are going to produce young people who know to use only a pen, and whose ability to socialise and compete and live and work in society would be underfed," he remarked.

In the overall process, he said, focus ought to be placed on all the elements that can contribute to an effective secondary education.

"Quality secondary education can become a reality (but) all of us must be involved purposefully and tirelessly to make it happen.

"We cannot speak of quality secondary education without focusing on the entire country," Caesar noted.

He said the fostering of a partnership between the private sector and the Education Ministry must also be on the front burner of the process.

"The private sector has to understand what the Ministry can do, (and) the Ministry has to appreciate the expectations of the private sector."

Caesar said that in the delivery of quality secondary education, computerisation should be seen as a "habit and not a luxury".

"Our educators and trainers must understand the new technologies and ways in which they can be used to enhance the delivery of information...The process must involve retraining and exposing trainers to relevant overseas environments for short periods, the provision of facilities to allow them to engage in research, and improved working conditions for teacher/trainers," the Chief Education Officer pointed out.

He said educators must engage in concrete and continuous talk about teachers' practice and also evaluate and prepare teaching materials together (with teachers).

"Interactive professionalism must be encouraged," Caesar said.

Educators, he added, must think critically and cause their charges to think in that way also.

Referring to a speech by an Argentine Senator, the education official said no one disputes that education is vital for economic growth, social advancement and democracy. Yet, most students in Latin America and the Caribbean are deprived of a decent, high quality education.

"Schools, instead of contributing to growth, are holding their children back.

"The problem was not access to education, but access to good education," Caesar said.