Top schools hit hard by teacher shortages
-overcrowding poses problem

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
September 15, 1999

The city's top schools have been hit hard by teacher shortages and overcrowding is also evident in some secondary schools, a Georgetown Education Department official has said.

In an interview with Stabroek News yesterday, Balram Inderjit, district education officer with responsibility for secondary schools in the city, said that while the situation in the nursery schools was stable, all was not well with the primary and secondary schools.

He said that visits to schools on Monday and yesterday morning revealed that secondary schools "have lost quite a few teachers". The teachers who have left the system are mainly heads of departments (HODs) and experienced and skilled teachers.

Among primary schools seriously affected by the teacher shortage is St Agnes' Primary. However, the shortage is due primarily to some five teachers being given time off to attend classes at the University of Guyana. Two have left for the Turks and Caicos and one has gone to a private school in the city. The deputy head of the school has also been transferred. Among some of the staff who have left are teachers who have been at the school for some ten to 20 years.

Inderjit stated that Queen's College, St Stanislaus College, St Joseph's High School and North Georgetown Secondary are among the hardest hit by the teacher shortage.

The teachers who have been lost were mainly those who worked with students for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams. While some of the teachers have migrated to Botswana, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and Antigua, some have taken up posts at private schools in the city.

St Roses' High School is reported to be fairly stable. And at Bishops' High, though teachers have migrated and been transferred, the situation is said to be "manageable".

Queen's College lost a number of teachers during the first wave of migration earlier in the year. At present QC is in need of teachers for Modern Languages, Industrial Arts, Information Technology, Principles of Business, Agricultural Science, Chemistry and Geography.

The education official noted that QC has survived because of a system of part-time teachers and a number of volunteers comprising former students and parents who have pitched in their lot to help the students.

St Stanislaus College is reported to be suffering from a teacher shortage based mainly on leave taken by teachers. Four teachers are said to have gone on Whitley Council leave, while three were absent without reasons given.

In general, it is known that some teachers have taken leave to go overseas to explore the environment where vacancies exist. Inderjit said that a teacher who had gone to Botswana to look at the possibilities there had returned but because he was on leave and had not left the system he had no problems returning to the job.

North Georgetown Secondary has lost a mathematics teacher and the Industrial Arts' HOD. The neighbouring school, St Joseph's High has lost two teachers including the Agricultural Science's HOD.

Apart from a shortage of teachers, North Georgetown Secondary is now facing a problem of overcrowding. The school has a large batch of fifth formers and even though only 113 have been admitted to the first form so far, there was a problem of classrooms to accommodate the new intake. Based on the Secondary Schools Entrance Examinations some 193 children have been offered places there.

Overcrowding also exists at the Kingston Community High School as well as at St Joseph's High where there has been a large intake for this academic year.

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