SSRP bemoans poor teacher, student attendance records
- Mackenzie High attains best levels

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
December 11, 1999

The Secondary Schools Reform Project (SSRP) has recorded the average attendance of teachers at 81% or four days a week from January to June 1999, while the average for students is recorded at 62%. It has also issued a call for more men to get involved in the education system as teachers.

Giving an update on the World Bank-funded project at its second annual awards ceremony held at the Umana Yana yesterday, SSRP Director, Dr Kenneth Hunte, said poor attendance and lack of punctuality by teachers and students was a matter education departments needed to get a grip on.

He added that an average of 81% attendance for teachers and 62% for students meant that students would only be able to complete a maximum of 50% of their programme of study.

But in spite of the overall average, teachers and students of Mackenzie High School in Linden were singled out for special mention. The staff recorded a 99.5% attendance for the period under review and 18 students recorded 100% attendance.

Because of the under-achievement of many male students in the secondary system in recent years, Dr Hunte opined that there was a need for more male teachers to support the education of both male and female students. They were needed in particular to provide male role models for teenage boys in the secondary school system, he said.

Stating that the SSRP, which has been in operation over the past three years, was laying the foundation for the biggest reform in education, he said that it was confident of achieving its target by the year 2001.

Because of demands for support from the 12 pilot schools and others which have been included in the programme, the SSRP was forced to extend its mandate beyond form three to include forms four and five, Dr Hunte said.

The project's achievements are in the areas of development of curriculum materials, the development of management guidelines, training, support and supervision, defining standards and community alliances. The director said that the SSRP had negotiated directly with a religious denomination on behalf of the Ministry of Education for the donation of some 472 square feet of land to facilitate the rehabilitation of the Uitvlugt Secondary School. In the same vein the headteacher of the Tucville Primary School was able to obtain the support of the Guyana Defence Force to facilitate the construction of three temporary classrooms to accommodate the increasing school roll as the secondary department became established as a discrete secondary school. The school's Parent Teachers' Association has contributed some $80,000 towards the construction of the classrooms.

Region Three Chairman Parag Sukhai has also facilitated the SSRP with the construction of a bridge to link the communities served by the Uitvlugt and Leonora secondary schools.

In relation to support and supervision, the SSRP is recommending to the ministry the reorganisation of the management of secondary education with the assistant chief education officer with responsibility for secondary schools being supported by four specialist-subject senior education officers. These officers will support planning and training at the regional and national levels for effective curriculum delivery.

Present at the awards ceremony was Education Minister, Dr Dale Bisnauth, who congratulated the students on their achievement; senior education officials; teachers, parents and other invitees. Some 68 awards were presented. They included awards for overall highest improvement in performance at the school and in subject areas. Mackenzie High School copped a total of 27 student and staff awards while Annandale Secondary garnered a total of 22.

The school with the best improvement in performance among the pilot schools at the form one level was Fort Wellington Secondary, while at the form two level L'Aventure Secondary was given the first prize.

Awards were also presented for best performers in essay writing, students with perfect attendance records for the academic year 1998/1999; teachers with perfect attendance records; the most supportive education officer, which went to Gloria Britton of Region Ten; for special support, Region Three Regional Democratic Council, with Sukhai collecting; Mackenzie High School for best staff attendance record; to Jason Alphonso of Dolphin Secondary for winning first prize at the UNESCO International Art Contest and to Elwin Chase also of Dolphin's for being the youngest national rugby player.

Teachers with perfect attendance records were Kalowti Singh and Parmo Dyal Balkisun of Annandale Secondary, Yvette Peters of Dolphin Secondary, Carol Andrews of Tucville Primary, Florine Williams of Manchester Secondary, Thatpaul Hardyal of Cottonfield Secondary and Collette Prince of L'Aventure Secondary.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples