SSRP spent $586.6M on rehab, extension of 12 pilot schools -Dr Hunte

Stabroek News
December 17, 2002

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The most costly part of the Secondary School Reform Project (SSRP) has been the school environment component and to date $586.6M has been spent on the rehabilitation and extension of the 12 SSRP pilot schools.

Another $829M is expected to be spent on emergency repairs at 17 schools, with at least one school selected from each of the ten administrative regions and Georgetown.

Director of SSRP, Dr Kenneth Hunte made this disclosure while addressing the recent Secondary School Reform Project, Ministry of Education Annual Award Ceremony.

However, he asserted that the lack of care for new facilities at some schools suggest that management systems need to hold the relevant persons responsible and accountable for loss or damage to property.

The SSRP director expressed concern about the current distractions affecting the process of teaching and learning which he posited are being influenced by the high levels of indiscipline and violence in the country, adding that the consequent financial losses to education must be considerable.

He also voiced alarm at the high levels of underachievement across all subject areas that are being displayed by male students, the lack of accountability for the use of resources, including human, physical, material and financial, which have been available to schools as well as the poor level of support from parents and guardians for the education of their children.

But he pointed to three aspects of secondary education which he considers pleasing. The first is the successful implementation of the 2002 National Third Form Examination (NTFE) in the four core subjects - English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies - with the results showing excellent performances from a variety of schools and across a number of regions.

The second aspect is the decision by the Regional and Georgetown Education Departments to have standardised regional end-of-year examinations for Forms 1 & 2 students in the core subjects.

The third aspect which he considered a plus for the project was hearing from the acting Chief Education Officer that three of the top four performers in the National Drama Competition were SSRP pilot schools and finding out that four of the five top students for Science at the 2002 NTFE attended Annandale Secondary School.

He concluded that the SSRP has enabled the Ministry of Education to re-define its mission for secondary school education.

On the question of male underachievement, Dr Hunte challenged all headteachers starting from the nursery level "to closely monitor the performance of their pupils/students so as to identify gender differences and develop strategies that produce an improvement in the performance of our boys". He said that raising the level of achievement of male students should become a compulsory component of the school improvement plan.

And referring to the removal and disposal of asbestos from three multilateral schools, Dr Hunte observed that its use as a construction material for schools has turned out to be a costly mistake because a loan agreement with the World Bank was used to build seven multilateral schools and currently about $125M is expected to be spent on the removal and disposal of the material from the three schools.

He remarked how ironic it was that a credit agreement with the same World Bank is now being used to remove the very asbestos that was part of the construction design which that institution would have had to approve as a condition for disbursement of its funds.

The SSRP director pointed out that in the quest to improve the quality, equity and efficiency of secondary education in Guyana, the SSRP was mandated to explore workable solutions to the critical issue of equity in financing quality education. And with the support from an Education Finance Consultancy a formula has been developed to identify the per capita cost of providing a quality education service at the nursery, primary and secondary levels.

According to him, the work is underway and with support from the Ministry of Finance the formula will be tested in six schools, three each from Regions Two and Four.

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