HOUSE, 1995, Pp. 196, US$12
Guyana Chronicle
August 11, 2003

Related Links: Articles on education
Letters Menu Archival Menu

In education policies and institutions two things are essential-the
inculcation of true work culture and motivation of schoolteachers since they are at the root of all operational activities. All policies are
framed after taking into account the existing political scenario, considering in clear terms what is, what should be and what and how it can be. In the book, WORK COMMITMENT IN EDUCATION, Prem Misir considers such aspects while analyzing the situation in the last three decades in Guyana, the impact of the ruling regime on the society's institutions, and explores the short and long-term implications on a workable education policy.

Misir examines in some detail vital issues such as commitment,
aspirations, career prospects and innovativeness in education during the three decades of the People's National Congress regime in Guyana. During the period all society's institutions were subordinated to the governing principle of "party paramountcy." All this tends to crush the emerging concepts of work and spirit of the nation, feels the author. He maintains that the new regime, beginning from 1992, may usher in drastic changes, removing the pall on creativity and work culture, though the harm already done has been immense and incalculable. Misir seeks "to facilitate a sensitivity to this change process."

In the elaborate introduction, the author sketches the education
Scenario in Guyana as it existed in the last three decades and spells out the objective, hypotheses and relevance of his study. He proposes to investigate school system's contributory role to the social transformation process of the country. The objective is three-fold: to analyze the aspirations and career patterns of school teachers, to discover the stage when commitment to teaching is difficult, and to find the innovative and inventive potential of the teacher for implementing the curriculum changes.

In the second chapter, Misir concentrates on teachers' aspirations,
influences on his findings, and tries to discover a theoretical perspective for interpretative purposes. He establishes that East Indian and mixed teachers relate more to the aspirational model than Negro teachers, East Indian teachers stress a higher level of social mobility.

The next chapter III is devoted to an analysis of a very significant
issue: career patterns of teachers. As the author points out,

"Teachers' productivity can also be adversely affected by unstable career pattern."

Thereafter, the place of innovativeness is ascertained through a close
examination of broad-based data, bringing out the utility and
effectiveness of a decentralised school system.

In the end the author refers to the problems which may crop up in

The course of the transformation of the social structure and makes quite a few concrete suggestions: the perception of East Indian and Mixed teachers as a subordinate class; inter-school mobility pattern as an expression of communalism; early teacher entrants work mostly in urban areas; one discerns problems facing commitment to teaching; the school head had poor working relationship with teachers working with him; orientation programs could compensate for this; and bringing the cooperative agricultural principles to the urban areas. In the second section of the summing up, the author stresses the need for a collective, decentralized approach. He concludes: "The initiative for change must be characterized by collectivization whereby all the players have a participative role in the decision making in any program/philosophy aimed at transforming the society."

WORK COMMITMENT IN EDUCATION has some very distinctive features. It is the first study which elaborately unravels the dynamics of the situation during a dark period in Guyana when the party paramountcy ruled the roost and in a way stifled the creative spirit, emerging life-force, for three decades. As Dr. Tara Singh points out in the Preface: "The last three decades in Guyana were not particularly pleasant for the pursuit of scholarship and self-expression. Creativity and leadership were sacrificed at the altar of political expediency." The situation has an international context since it has clear parallel experience of the dark days of the 1975 emergency in India. Also, in one form or the other. such conditions,
though in less stringent ways, are often prevalent in countries where ruling parties predominantly work along party lines, suppressing the natural growth and working of society's institutions.

Education is the most important weapon to strengthen and develop
human resources and spirit. When it is not allowed a free, natural, congenial growth, watchwords such as education for the poor, for development, for the people sound hollow. The comprehensive study examines the issue in terms of education and teachers' roles and status. Everywhere after such a bad period of history, it is time for re-assertion of forces of change which must first come in teachers. The author's analysis of their place, psychological outlook and the social norms and framework is most interesting and the insightful.

The findings are useful for various countries though their primary
relevance is for Guyana. The book is rightly dedicated to teachers of

Guyana. Misir favors/recommends greater powers to heads of education institutions and decentralization at various levels. This is also emphasized in India's National Policy on Education (1986-92). Indeed, these suggestions have universal significance, and such conclusions are most relevant everywhere:

(1) "the less the school heads' directive supervisory style is exercised, the more will be an increase in the level of commitment to teaching and to the cooperative ideal; and

(2) the less centralized the school system becomes, the more there
will be an increase in the level of commitment to teaching in general
and to the cooperative ideal."

Those states and countries that think of constituting task forces,
village education committees, etc. would get many worthwhile thinkpoints and ideas from the book under review.

In fact, Misir has conducted original research, prepared over one
hundred telling tables, several surveys and worked assiduously on the primary and secondary source material to arrive at impeccable conclusions. It is an indepth, sharply focused static which should interest both planners and implementers of education programs all over the world.

Finely brought out, the book is outstanding in merit. It is, recommended to all interested in work commitment in school education, the onward movement of the creative, life giving spirit, especially to those who wish to understand and appreciate dynamics of a true working culture.
SEPTEMBER 11, 1995

Site Meter