Education Minister concerned about `overladen’ haversacks
Guyana Chronicle
January 20, 2002

MINISTER of Education, Dr. Henry Jeffrey, has expressed concern about children having to fetch “overladen haversacks” of books to schools.

The Ministry of Education is in receipt of a number of complaints from parents and guardians, that their children (especially those in Primary 3 and 4) are burdened with over laden haversacks that contain a variety of texts that are requested by the school,” the Minister said at a press conference Friday at the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD)

The minister said that while the Ministry is supportive of the use of relevant and appropriate supplementary material (which does not only include books), “the present (situation) cannot be encouraged.”

He emphasised the need for schools to observe timetables and ensure that they are clearly communicated to pupils and their parents. This would mean the student would carry only the relevant materials on a particular day.

It is not the number of books carried by pupils, that matters, but the structured and systematic use of the material,” Dr. Jeffrey exhorted.

He issued a word of caution to teachers who are sometimes swayed by attractive titles of books and quickly add them to the book lists, pointing out that proper evaluation of the text for accurate and updated content is crucial.

The Minister said the `Easy Path Series’ is prescribed by the Ministry of Education for the primary level and should be mainly used for the delivery of content. The series has been published in the four core subjects and he stressed that no additional books should be used in place of the Easy Path Series.

Dr. Jeffrey explained that the series is structured to cater for the essential skills, knowledge and understanding relevant to the developmental stages of the pupils. The Secondary Schools Entrance Examination (SEE) is based on the content of these series and the curriculum guides, he added.

The minister explained that because of the enormous costs involved, free textbooks are provided only for the core subjects. He estimated that if books were provided for all the subjects, it would cost a prohibitive $2.3 billion annually. (Chamanlall Naipaul)