Internet pilot for teacher training underway -Jeffrey
Stabroek News
December 21, 2001

Education Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey says that distance and in-service teacher training using the internet was being piloted in a limited way.

Responding to questions about the mass migration of teachers from the local system on the Government Information Agency (GINA) sponsored programme `Answers' on GTV Channel 11 on Sunday, Jeffrey said, the government would have to train more teachers using in-service and distance education methods, given the available technology. The ministry would also have to try to deliver some of its programmes online.

The central ministry, he said, had a decent internet system and was online 24 hours a day.

Responding to claims that teachers were young and not qualified, Jeffrey said that such a situation might have existed in the past, but at present, "we have a list of persons with six, seven, eight CXC [Caribbean Examinations Council] subjects even, willing to go into the hinterland to teach." All of them were in a position to be trained and that was the reason why there was need for online and in-service training.

He said he did not believe that the government could compete with the salaries paid regionally or internationally to teachers. Nor did he think that government "can try to prevent anyone from wanting to leave. That has not been our tradition."

He noted that the teachers who were exiting the system were the experienced ones and they were leaving at the very time when they were needed and when new teachers were also being placed there.

However, in an attempt to ease the wave of migration, he said that the ministry has been talking to the Guyana Teachers' Union and one of the first things he did on assuming the portfolio for education was to create a strategic alliance with the GTU. At this time, he said they enjoyed a "decent relationship."

The ministry and the union, he said, were trying to use the resources the government had at its disposal in creative ways such as improving hinterland allowances, paying more for qualifications and granting house lots. He has given the GTU 3,000 house lot forms, but the feedback was that number was insufficient for teachers.