Key institutions hit by serious teacher shortage -Caesar

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
September 18, 1999

The Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD) and secondary schools in the city are suffering from a serious teacher shortage.

Chief Education Officer, Ed Caesar, is appealing to persons to fill vacancies or give of their service on a full-time or part-time basis. Caesar made this disclosure at a press briefing held at the GTV 11 studios yesterday following a survey conducted by education officers during the week.

The situation is reported to be stable in nursery schools and to a lesser extent in the primary system. Caesar has expressed his gratitude to nursery school teachers, none of whom has left their jobs, for their dedication.

Caesar had requested that the education officers conduct a comprehensive survey of staffing in the schools to determine what the situation was in order that strategies could be planned to deal with the shortage, if any.

The Georgetown scenario, he said, was one where several administrators, some of whom are heads of departments, are not in place. Some 11 tutors have left the CPCE and four specialists have left the Measurement and Test Unit of NCERD. CPCE is now in need of teachers in almost all subject areas, especially Spanish, English, Mathematics and History. Caesar said that the loss of skilled persons at NCERD was considered critical and could compromise the development of tests if not dealt with expeditiously.

Noting that those who have left are skilled and experienced teachers in areas such as Information Technology, Agricultural Science, Home Economics and Industrial Arts, Caesar said that with or without migration there would be a grave shortage hence a "dire need" for science teachers. In spite of scholarships being offered to teachers on the certificate or degree programme in Natural Sciences and Mathematics, only nine teachers have responded to the offer for this year.

He noted that apart from the other regions where the situation is fairly stable at all levels, Georgetown has been severely hit by teacher shortages in the secondary schools. Georgetown has lost some 25 administrators, five trained graduates and 28 trained teachers, nine acting teachers and 11 temporary qualified. Of the 25 administrators, 16 were graduate teachers and seven had degrees but were not CPCE trained.

Caesar said that another worry for the ministry was 55 teachers from the city, who were granted leave. He expressed concern, too, about the numbers of teachers who are proceeding to the University of Guyana without releases being granted them by the Ministry of Education. He said that in no school should more than four teachers be released to attend university at one time. He said that the ministry would like all its teachers to be qualified but the arrangements to facilitate this must be organised.

A breakdown of attendance at secondary schools in other regions for the first week reveal that all teachers were at their posts in Region One (Barima/Waini). Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) has a shortage of eight, five of whom are on Whitley Council leave. Of the three who have left two are trained graduates and one is a trained teacher.

In Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands), the Education Department has reported that there was no loss, but Caesar said that the situation had to be reviewed because of other reports received.

The situation in regions Four and Five, he said, was still being assessed but it was expected that there would be teacher shortages there. Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) has lost some 12 teachers at the secondary level. They included six trained graduates.

Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni) lost two, but in Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) and Region Nine (Upper Essequibo/Upper Takutu) all teachers were in place. Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice) has lost 12 teachers, including three graduates and one trained. This information, Caesar said, excluded Silver City Secondary.

Caesar said that some heads of schools have begun to talk to persons about to graduate from UG and potential teacher candidates in a bid to fill vacancies in their schools.

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