Education Month 2003
Let's commit to creating a morally rich teaching/learning environment
By Ganga Persaud
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education
Guyana Chronicle
September 12, 2003

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AS we seek to commemorate Education Month 2003 in Guyana, there is need for serious and indepth reflection by all educators and stakeholders on the numerous gains we achieved over the past decade. Significantly, we should, with pride and dignity, applaud achievements such as the:-

- Massive improvement of the physical infrastructure and the physical teaching/learning environment at the Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary levels of our education system;

- Astronomical increases in the real wages and salaries of our administrators, teachers and support staff. Over the last decade salaries were increased by over 100 per cent;

- The reduction of the qualifying period for Whitney Council leave which was decreased from five years to four years;

- Increases in the availability of text and exercise books in our learning institutions;

- Introduction and use of modern technology in enhancing the delivery of education;

- Proactive approach to training both at the local and international levels for all categories of educators. Noticeably, the re-introduction of the In-Service Teachers Training Programme in several regions;

- Greater access to all levels of education by the construction of new schools, Technical Institutes and the Tain Campus of the University of Guyana; and

- Continuous increases in our students' performances at local as well as Regional and International examinations.

I can continue to expand on this list of achievements but in so doing we may lose sight of the struggles and sacrifices which were necessary for these magnanimous achievements.

There were several obstacles which spurted up in the path of progress during the past decade. Some of these obstacles were economic in nature and were influenced by the economic situation at the International level; quite a few were politically influenced particularly during the period leading up to and immediately after the holding of the national Elections and some emerged from the social environment in which we play, learn and work. More recently, we have noted an increase in the difficulties at the Industrial relations level.

Notwithstanding the above, heartfelt congratulations must be extended to all our educators, past as well as present, our students, all parents, the leaders and supporters of the Guyana Teachers' Union, our administrators, support staff, every Guyanese and the International donor community for the support, courage and determination which have resulted in the Ministry's success of the academic year 2002/2003.

As we plan and execute the various activities for Education Month and International Teachers Day 2003, I wish to urge our educators and stakeholders at all levels of the Education System to focus on Education in Human Values. This call is against the background that Education is being increasingly recognized today as one of the most effective means of transferring one's character in the immediate society and the wider world.

The Education System therefore has a most important role to play in bringing about that transformation. There is a great deal of anxiety presently in certain sections of our society, based on the premise that our rapid progress in education has not been matched by corresponding advances in human education and virtue. Indeed many observers feel that moral values are disintegrating on all fronts, in both public and personal life.

I wish to point out that the very survival of our society depends upon a widespread renewal of individual commitment to an active moral life. As educators, parents, students and stakeholders, we must strive to rediscover a sense of meaning and recapture that feeling of total dedication to the noble and just norms of a progressive and developing society.

In this era of shrinking distances, that is, one global village, rapid communications, and increased intellectual contact and understanding, we have became heirs to the rich moral heritage of all mankind. We must therefore seek to make and encourage changes which will inculcate attitudes and values that are in keeping with acceptable norms and values of our society. It will benefit all of us, all if we can purposefully direct our focus on concepts such as Truth and Honesty, Right and Acceptable Action, Peace with all, love for ourselves and others and non-violence. These concepts can be reinforced in every teaching/learning environment irrespective of what is the content for discussion and delivery. Hence, I want to urge all of us to strive to mould our nation's human resources with a renewed commitment to create a morally rich teaching/learning environment.

Finally, greetings are extended to one and all for a happy and rewarding Education Month 2003 under the theme "Modernising Education and Strengthening Tolerance."

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