Consortium body hands over report on Education Ministry

by Terrence Esseboom
Guyana Chronicle
November 18, 1999

THE Consortium for International Development (CID), yesterday handed over its three-volume report on the Organisational Capacity Assessment (OCA) of the Education Ministry, commending its achievements under rigid economic circumstances.

The formality took place in the Boardroom of the Ministry of Education headquarters, 26 Brickdam, Georgetown.

"It [the Education Ministry] is seriously strapped for funds and yet striving to do its best to train teachers, improve schools and...the outcomes for pupils throughout the country," Dr Mark Lusk told reporters.

Dr Lusk is one of the 13 specialists of the Consortium for International Development who worked on the capacity assessment project.

According to Lusk, "What's unique about our assessment of this Ministry is that we have focused on its strengths, not just on the problems that the agency has."

He said the group has found "many things that are commendable about the Ministry," emphasising that educators successfully managed the sector during difficult periods of the transformation of the economy.

During their four-month evaluation, CID, a grouping of 12 United States universities with a total of 15,000 faculties scattered strategically across that country, examined the resources, personnel, mission, curriculum, capacity to deal with information technology, and learning strategies of the Guyanese education programme.

It also looked at management and training, managerial and supervisory practices, Management Information Systems (MIS), strategic planning, financial management and budgetary processes. Further the specialists looked at the technical expertise of the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) and the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).

NCERD and CPCE are the only two teacher-training institutions in Guyana.

In its work, the team reviewed some 30 previous reports submitted to the Ministry on various issues in the sector.

Some of CID's findings are "consistent" with the conclusions of those studies, Lusk disclosed.

"We have developed a clear and concise action plan that we feel is implementable in the near...and long term," he said when asked about the likelihood of the compilation being left to `gather dust' on the shelves of Education Ministry officials.

Permanent Secretary Mr Hydar Ally, who received the CID report yesterday, said the OCA arrangement reflects the "qualitative aspects" of the Primary Education Improvement Programme (PEIP).

Under the civil works component of the PEIP, scores of learning institutions throughout the country have been built, repaired, expanded and provided with teaching and learning equipment.

As part of that phase, text books have been provided to schools, and teachers are benefiting from training programmes overseas.

The PEIP financed the US$460,000 the OCA venture.

Referring to the significant numbers of ongoing projects executed by the Education Ministry, Ally noted, "It is critical that we have an assessment of our capacity to...implement programmes."

Dr Jean Kearns, Executive Director of CID, said in her intervention that the three-volume report is "a sound document which the Government can utilise for the improvement in the education system."

Ally, Lusk, Kearns and Mr Hector Patterson, Advisor to Education Minister Dr Dale Bisnauth, side-stepped reporters' questions on the specifics of the recommendations contained in the voluminous report.

The local officials were guarded in their responses when questioned about possible staff cuts in some units, particularly the Personnel Management Department.

CID officials said the Ministry must take "the lead" in disclosing its contents, and when pressed, Ally said a task force, the Project Monitoring Committee, already in place at the Ministry, will "give effect" to the proposals of the OCA report.

"The report is a very substantial document (and) officials need time to study it before making pronouncements," Patterson told the Chronicle when further pressed for an explanation, at the end of yesterday's formality.

He and Ally, however, agreed to circulate media releases which will deal with the intricacies and implications of the document on the future of the learning sector.

"The report is not an imposition coming from a group of consultants...we have a vested interest in seeing that the recommendations...are implemented," Ally stated.

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