March 31, 1998
We welcome the formation of the Committee of Concerned Parents and Educators whose members include a number of senior and respected educators. It is their intention to hold meetings with the parents and teachers of a number of schools to discuss outstanding problems. A report will then be compiled for submission to the Ministry of Education.
The first meeting was held last Thursday with parents and teachers from four primary schools. A number of issues were ventilated including the lack of trained teachers, a shortage of text books, a lack of interest by some parents and a lack of commitment by some teachers. Ms Mickey Anderson, a lecturer at the National Centre for Education Resource Development said that last year more than 500 trained teachers had been produced and more than half had remained in the system and this year about l000 trained teachers should be produced. Parents were particularly concerned about the severe lack of trained teachers.
Mr Hydar Ally, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education told the gathering that government would call a halt to school building when the current round of construction is completed and there would be greater focus on teacher education and supplies for schools. Fifteen of the nineteen schools scheduled under the Primary Education Improvement Programme funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank have been completed and the four others are under construction. Of the 36 schools to be rehabitated 20 have been done, ll are in progress and five are at the tender stage.
We welcome the decision to place new emphasis on training teachers and improving the supplies of text books. Many have argued that that should always have been the priority. It is also commendable that these experienced educators should find the time and energy to ascertain first hand from parents and teachers exactly what the problems are. Their report will no doubt be of considerable value to the ministry and the fact that the ministry was represented at a high level at the meeting and welcomed the initiative encourages one to think that the report will be well received.
The poor quality of education continues to be an issue of fundamental concern. Countries like Singapore have achieved astonishing progress because their leaders recognised that an investment in education is the best investment that can be made as quite apart from the inherent desirability of education levels being improved skilled and educated people are needed in every area of a developing economy and this is a major bottleneck right now in Guyana even with a low level of economic development.
We hope the report will be completed in the near future and that its recommendations will be published and will be given urgent consideration.