PEIP records significant achievements By Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
December 19, 2001

SIGNIFICANT improvements in the primary education system have been achieved under the Primary Education Improvement Programme (PEIP), a top official reported yesterday.

Under the scheme physical infrastructure has greatly improved while several training programmes were conducted to boost the level of delivery of teachers in the classroom.

The PEIP loan agreement was signed between the Government of Guyana and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in 1990, but implementation of the project actually started in 1993.

Through a shrewd restructuring of the original programme, initiated by the late President Cheddi Jagan, Guyana received greater benefits than planned for initially.

PEIP Director, Mr. Raghunandan Persaud said Guyana has derived twice the benefits originally catered for under the programme because of the restructuring implemented in 1998.

Under the scheme, more than 107 schools were built or repaired, basic classroom furniture and equipment and learning aid packages provided. In addition, several training programmes were conducted for teachers.

It was funded through a soft loan from international financial institutions amounting to about US$52M, Persaud sadi.

During this year, 16 new primary schools were completed and six were repaired. The new schools are Cummings Lodge, Beterverwagting, Plaisance, Virginia, Golden Grove, Cove & John, Graham's Hall, Corriverton, Sheet Anchor, Sophia, Wakenaam, Crane, Mabaruma, Arapaima, Taymouth Manor and St. Paul's Primary. Those fixed were Gibson, Enterprise (Durban Backlands), East La Penitence, F.E Pollard, J.E Burnham and Wismar Primary. The Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) was also repaired.

An estimated $1.4 billion was spent on these projects, Persaud reported.

Furniture and basic classroom equipment were provided to 320 schools across the country at a cost of about $200M. Learning aid packages totalling 900 and costing some $200M were distributed to 437 schools, the CPCE and the National Centre for Education Research and Development.

Persaud explained that the learning aid packages focus on the core subjects English, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science and are designed to make learning pleasurable and fun.

In the area of teacher training several workshops were conducted to strengthen the capacity of teachers in the delivery of the curriculum for Mathematics and Reading through innovative methods. In 1999-2000 a special training programme to upgrade the skills of teachers in the hinterland regions was executed in collaboration with CPCE, the official said.

A learning strategy programme for teachers in 15 model schools was executed and training in multi-grade teaching skills was conducted to enhance the capabilities of teachers to teach at different class levels.

During this year as well computer laboratories were developed and equipped at Rama Krishna, St. Aloysius, St. Aidan's and Anna Regina Primary. Requisite training in the use of the equipment outfitted with several pieces of software was provided to the teachers of these schools.

In addition, the software can be used as a teaching aid in the classrooms, apart from researching and other relevant uses, Persaud explained. The total cost of establishing the computer laboratories is about $20M.

The PEIP Director told the Chronicle he is satisfied with the progress of this year's capital programme, despite a few hiccups along the way caused mainly by post elections disturbances and unsatisfactory work by some contractors. The disturbances delayed projects because work sites had to be abandoned.

In relation to unsatisfactory work, those contractors who were found culpable were replaced, he said.

Persaud said he found his job challenging but enjoyable. There were problems encountered but these were not insurmountable. He lauded the PEIP staff for their hard work and dedication in the course of duty and was happy with the cooperation he received from other relevant agencies like the State Planning Secretariat, Central Tender Board and the Ministry of Education.

Some of the difficulties encountered were legal hurdles involving ownership of land and soil texture. He said that after work started in some cases, it was found that the texture of the top soil was unsuitable for laying foundations and consequently, depths of foundations had to be increased.

He added that though his job might not be financially rewarding, the job satisfaction he derived when he visited new schools and was met by smiling faces of teachers and students whose accommodation was improved, was ample reward for his work.

PEIP officially concludes on March 31, next year.

However, an agreement has been recently signed for the preparation of a similar programme, the Basic Education Access and Management Systems (BEAMS).