Education faculty towers at UG Convocation

by Terrence Esseboom
Guyana Chronicle
November 16, 1999

MS CHERYL Weever is all smiles after receiving the Chancellor's Medal from Pro-Chancellor Dr Joshua Ramsammy.(Picture by Cullen Bess Nelson)

EDUCATION, the national scapegoat for almost all the current ailments pummelling this country, towered Colossus-like Saturday in the persons of schoolteachers Ms Jennifer Cumberbatch and Ms Cheryl Weever who won the two top prizes at the 33rd Convocation of the University of Guyana.

It is the first time that any student from the Education Faculty has captured major awards at a graduation ceremony, since that department was introduced in 1967.

"I have done my Faculty shows that teachers can work, we can be the best," Cumberbatch, who was Best Graduating Student, said in an exclusive interview with the Chronicle yesterday.

Weever, the second Best Graduating Student, also from the Faculty of Education, said their achievement, "might motivate the lecturers...and teachers to work harder."

She noted further, that, "Even though there has been a decline in the standard of education, you can still see with (our) success there are some good teachers in the system."

Cumberbatch and Weever called on the `powers that be' to pay a bit more attention to educators, who not only teach subjects, "but mould minds."

Weever observed, "If the Government and the Ministry of Education do not consider what they have now, then we are preparing teachers for other countries."

She recalled that while the Guyana Police Force Band was playing the tune `O Beautiful Guyana' during the graduation formality, some teachers were singing `O Beautiful Botswana.'

More than 1,070 persons graduated from the University of Guyana last Saturday, making it the largest Convocation since that institution was established in April 1963.

Only one male, Mr Kowlessar Misir, won a prize.

In her Valedictory, Cumberbatch reminded the congregation, "Teaching is still indeed a rather noble profession though we teachers are overworked and underpaid. The exodus of teachers is a clear indication of their dignified protest."

Referring to a statement of Mr Benjamin Disraeli, the 19th century British Prime Minister, Cumberbatch, who is Deputy Headteacher (Ag) of Winfer Gardens Primary School, East Street, Georgetown, stated, "Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends."

She told the Chronicle that more strides can be made in the sector, if Ministry of Education officials, "listen to what teachers have to say."

Cumberbatch pointed out that for a long time, there have been calls to re-evaluate the `Cluster' workshops which many teachers feel is "a waste of time,". But there has been no affirmative response from education decision-makers.

"The morale of teachers needs to be lifted," observed the educator, who sometimes takes on the role of a counsellor to many distraught, single parents.

Notwithstanding the plethora of problems teachers endure, and many inducements for her to leave the sector for more lucrative jobs, Cumberbatch, an educator all her life, still retains her "passion for education which is the key for development."

As an administrator at Winfer Gardens Primary, her vision is to lift the standards of that institution, and so fulfill the potentials of children enrolled there.

"Your school is what you want it to be," Cumberbatch said.

She started her undergraduate programme with a personal commitment just to "do well", but finished the four-year course winning the President's Award.

"Whatever I do I want to do well. That is my goal," she recalled.

Cumberbatch lists as contributing to her success her faith in God, a caring and supportive family, consistent encouragement from lecturers, and the backing of friends and members of her Church.

But it still needed generous doses of hard work, Cumberbatch stated in between bursts of infectious laughter.

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