Laparkan’s Incentive Scheme honours teachers
Abrams Zuil teacher awarded $1M stories by Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
April 14, 2002

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A SECONDARY school teacher from Essequibo is the first recipient of $1M Teacher of the Year award presented by the Laparkan Group of Companies under its `Teacher Incentive Scheme’ that was launched last year.

Maydha Persaud a teacher for 27 years from the Abrams Zuil Secondary School was declared the teacher of the year for 2001 at the presentation ceremony held yesterday at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), Turkeyen.

“Joyous, momentous, and an historic occasion. A blessed and superlative day. Thirty-two years ago, when I joined this profession, I never dreamt of receiving such a prestigious award!” These were the words of Persaud on receiving the award yesterday.

He added, “Laparkan has made my life better and I will help to make other people’s life better.”

Persaud said the gesture by Laparkan is “magnanimous” and is hoping that other private sector companies would emulate the example that has been set.

Two other teachers, Premwattie Jaikarran and Jennifer Cumberbatch, first and second runners up, received gift certificates worth $500,000 and $250,000 respectively.

In addition, eleven teachers, one from each Region and one from Georgetown received quarterly awards for the period October-December, 2001. Each teacher in this category was presented with a gift certificate of $50,000.

Chairman of the Laparkan Group of Companies, Glenn Khan, also announced the launching of a Teacher Benevolent Fund with an initial donation of one million dollars.

He said the incentive scheme, initiated by Laparkan, is consistent with its corporate objectives which include helping the disadvantaged and improving the environment.

Khan, reminiscing on the days when Guyana had the best education system in the Caribbean, said it was not a coincidence that strong family values were present. However, he noted that changes bring both positive and negative influences, and urged all stakeholders to restore the education system to its former glory.

Alluding to the collaboration among Laparkan, Government and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) in successfully realising the incentive scheme, Khan said this formula should be applied at ‘higher levels.’

He said teachers are performing a remarkable job and they should not be only provided with respect and dignity, but there should be programmes to boost their morale. He expressed the hope that his company’s gesture would help in the process.

Prime Minister Sam Hinds, delivering the feature address, said recognition of teachers is not enough: they must be rewarded. But he also observed that rewards cannot be set absolutely because there should be a fair distribution of what is produced.

Increased production is the key towards providing greater rewards, he said, pointing out that futile quarrels only hamper this process.

Noting the successes of countries like the US and China, he said patience, sacrifice and perseverance were essential ingredients in their struggle towards success.

The Prime Minister urged the establishment of a social compact among stakeholders to create “team Guyana” to move the developmental process forward.

Education Minister, Dr. Henry Jeffrey, commended Laparkan for establishing a partnership in education which will assist in garnering greater resources to boost its delivery.

The gesture by Laparkan, he noted, was not only an incentive for teachers, but part of the educational reform process.

He pointed out that the success of education is not only dependent on the quantity of resources put into it, but how those resources are managed and implemented.

In this regard, he said the Ministry of Education formulates national education policies and programmes, but it is the responsibility of the Regional Administration to implement those policies and programmes. Consequently, education committees comprising both educational and private sector officials have been formed in all the Regions charged with the monitoring and management of educational policies and programmes to ensure these are implemented in a qualitative manner.

Dr. Jeffrey also emphasised the importance of the involvement of parents in ensuring that educational standards are sustained.

“Schools must not be treated as day care centres,” he declared, noting that children are in schools for only eight per cent of the time, while 92 per cent of the time they are with parents.

President of the GTU, Bertram Hamilton, contended that failing to address the issues affecting teachers, is a failure to address the ills of education.

He declared: “A satisfied worker is a good worker; a dissatisfied one is no better than no worker.”

Hamilton said the GTU has been working vigorously to convince all sectors in society of the need to effectively address the issues affecting teachers and said he is happy that Laparkan has tangibly responded to the call.

“Our calls, pleadings and cries have not fallen on deaf ears,” he added.

He observed that the 44 teachers who so far received awards under the incentive schemes have now become “beacons” in the profession and expressed the hope that they would serve to inspire others to better perform in the classroom.

He also pointed out that the awardees now have greater responsibilities, having become role models and urged all teachers to “continue making the most valuable contribution to mankind.”

`I could not believe it - I broke down in tears of joy’ - Maydha Persaud

PROUD winner of the Laparkan $1M `Teacher of the Year’ award, Maydha Persaud, from the Abrams Zuil Secondary School in Essequibo says he stuck to teaching, despite all the difficulties “because of my deep love for the profession.”

Persaud, 50, a teacher for 32 years, in an interview with the Chronicle said he came from poor and humble rice-growing family and therefore understands what is poverty. For this reason, he never charged fees for extra lessons.

He said he was aware that he copped the award about two days before the ceremony, and on receiving the letter from Laparkan, he felt overwhelmed.

“I could not believe it - I broke down in tears of joy,” he told the Chronicle.

How did he manage to cope with the economic difficulties, especially in the days when there were severe shortages and black-market prices for every conceivable item and salaries being appreciably lower than what it is today?

Persaud, a vegetarian, teetotaller and devout Hindu said he always stuck to his prayers and commitment to his religious way of life which provided him with consolation and the will to continue in the profession. He admitted that his family applied pressure on him to quit and go into a more lucrative profession, but he was able to “weather the storm.”

He said, in addition, the profession, which is responsible for molding and preparing children for life, gives him a great sense of satisfaction, particularly when his former students make good achievements. Also, teaching provides an opportunity to learn from students, he added.

What influenced him to become a teacher? “One of my teachers, Ramnarine Singh, who taught me at Fisher Primary School, left an indelible impression on my mind in the committed and caring manner he went about his job,” Persaud reflected.

Asked if he were to become the Education Minister what were some the things he would do to improve the education system, he said he would improve salaries and working conditions of teachers and stimulate greater interaction among educators so that they can learn from each other’s experiences.

However, he is satisfied with efforts of the Government to improve the education system in the context of the available resources. He has found the profession to be more relaxing than a decade ago because Government has been putting in more resources into schools, but feels the issue of salaries should be addressed.

He feels that a lot of the indiscipline in schools could be curbed if teachers do a fair day’s work, and do more planning and execute their work in a meaningful manner. He added that teacher absenteeism is also a serious problem which should be curbed.

Persaud said he is also involved in social activities in his community. Apart from attending mandir, he is a member of its community policing and Food for the Poor groups.

He is married with two children - a son and daughter - the former also a teacher and the latter pursuing medicine in Cuba. His wife is the librarian at the school he teaches.

Persaud said he is grateful to Laparkan and the award will help to finance his daughter’s studies.