Ministry moving against teacher absenteeism
UG release policy under review
November 9, 2002
Only about 65% of the secondary school curriculum is normally covered owing to absenteeism and lateness by students and teachers, a recent survey by the Secondary Schools Reform Project has found.
The Ministry of Education is now reviewing its policy which deals with the release of teachers to attend the University of Guyana (UG) and other institutions, Minister of Education Henry Jeffrey told reporters at a press conference yesterday at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development.
The minister, who described the prevailing level of absenteeism and lateness in the school system as disturbing, noted that the ministry is concerned that in some schools, no provision is made for classes when teachers are officially absent.
This, the minister said "may mean that, for example, only the brightest children will be able to pass CXC."
In a move to address this situation, a circular was issued by Chief Education Officer Ed Caesar to headteachers, to remind all teachers of their responsibility in the area of attendance and punctuality at school and the procedure which must be followed when teachers are absent.
The circular states that it had been brought to the attention of the Ministry that "teacher absenteeism is now a matter of grave concern..." and "the long-term result of this will obviously be the non-completion of the body of material to be taught and, consequently, poor preparation of the learners for the next level."
Among the steps which must be observed by headteachers is their obligation to bring to the attention of the ministry, cases where teachers are attending UG or another institution, although a release was not granted by the ministry; also to ensure that adequate provision is always made for meaningful work to be done by students when teachers are absent; to bring it to the attention of their supervisors, cases where teachers who have been officially released do not attend school when they ought to; and to inform supervisors, in writing, when the teachers have proceeded on leave without appropriate coverage. The supervising officer in this instance will be expected to recommend deductions from salary, on the first circumstance, and further disciplinary action if the behaviour persists. Jeffrey noted that in an effort to address the issue, the ministry is currently reviewing its policy dealing with the release of teachers to attend UG and other institutions; education officers have been reminded of their duty to properly monitor and report on these issues; and also that an improved regional monitoring system will be instituted from January 2003. (Andre Haynes) West Berbice Chamber criticises GPL
The Guyana Power and Light has been criticised by the West Berbice Chamber of Industry and Commerce for the constant blackouts affecting West Berbice.
The organisation has also flayed the government for its seeming inadequacy in dealing with the power company.
According to a release from the organisation, the power company has not been working according to the schedule that was published in the newspapers. This is affecting businesses that maximise the use of electricity, because workers still have to be paid and great losses are suffered when perishable goods go bad.
The release also stated that the supply of water in West Berbice is also affected since the water company depends fully on the power company for water distribution. This adversely affects companies in fisheries, the Ice Factory, Lemonade Factory and others. According to the release, these companies stand to lose millions from the extended periods of blackouts.
The association has issued a call to the government to send a team to investigate the operations of the power company and its billing system.