New education laws will control extra lessons - Caesar

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
April 4, 2001

If new education laws are enacted this year, extra lessons would be far more controlled and parents would not find it as much of a burden as they do "and young people as we know in some cases, would not be short changed," Chief Education Officer, Ed Caesar, said.

The draft education bill and regulations were completed two years ago.

At a press conference last week, responding to a question as to how the Ministry of Education was dealing with the issue of extra lessons which has been a source of complaints for many parents and guardians, Caesar said that "they (extra lessons) will have to be controlled. We have placed in the draft bill and draft regulations the kinds of elements... to control both the private schools including what has become the bottom house schools or extra lessons."

Extra lessons were also being offered in some of the mushrooming private schools, he said noting that the complaints the ministry received about extra lessons "are disgusting to say the least."

Caesar agreed with a reporter that there were a number of children who attended established private schools during the day yet took extra lessons. He wondered if the perception of extra lessons had not become a norm, where parents felt that for their children to do well they must have extra lessons regardless of which school they attended.

He recalled, however, that top candidates at regional and external examinations only went to extra lessons for subjects when they had no teachers and wondered how correct that perception was.

Noting that the issue of extra lessons had become almost systemic, he said that "all along we [educators] were praying that the bill would have gone to parliament and it would have been enacted into law. We went so far to say among ourselves, let us appeal to the powers-that-be to take out the private school part and have that part about extra lesson go before Parliament."

If the draft bill and draft regulations had been taken to Parliament "many of the mushrooming illegal private schools or a lot of the bottom house evening classes would have been controlled and some of them would have probably even become extinct," Caesar said.

Asked why the draft bill and the draft regulations had not been taken before Parliament, Caesar said that he knew it was discussed among Cabinet members but after that, "I don't know what happened. I know the Minister of Education, [Dr Dale Bisnauth] was behind it."

On the issue of private schools, Caesar said that many parents had been calling on the ministry to verify whether some private schools had been given permission by the ministry.

Any school given the mandate to operate as a private school would have a document signed by the chief education officer giving the required permission. The schools that already had written permission included the New Guyana School, Mae's School, School of the Nations and Marian Academy. Three others, which have been visited by the ministry and are soon to be given the green light include Green Acres and the Education Trust.