Ministry Jeffrey in Education Month statement:
CXC English passes increase 37 %; Maths 24%
--- Daniel Ram's achievement best ever for Guyana
Education month - Minister Henry Jeffrey
September 26, 2003
THIS year education month focuses on our Ministry's 2003 to 2007 strategic plan. If properly supported and implemented, it should substantially improve education delivery by the end of its period.
The plan states: "The formulation of the strategic plan was designed as a participatory process: the Ministry of Education was committed to having all levels of the education system and all stakeholders participate in the evolution of the plan, which would define the general direction and activities for the period ahead."
Thirty-four meetings in three phases were held over a period of about a year. Every region of Guyana participated. The first phase discussed the strategic issues proposed by the Ministry and identified the major challenges that faced the education sector.
The second phase gave stakeholders the opportunity to suggest new or adjust the old strategies.
And the third phase allowed a selected group in each region to analyse the final document. Therefore, never mind the detractors, our plans were developed after widespread national consultation in which even they had the opportunity to and did participate.
Our vision for the education system, established during the participatory process, is to develop a citizenry capable of modernizing our country as we live in mutual respect of our diversity.
As a result, our mission is to eliminate illiteracy; modernize the education system and help to strengthen our people's ability to live productive lives.
At the heart of our approach is the desire to improve parental involvement and community participation.
Among other things parents need to participate more in school activities, inquire more about the welfare of their children and assure themselves that their charges are indeed attending school and doing so well prepared.
The school belongs to the community which has a duty to help to see that it is properly run and help to see that teachers attend on time and in a fit and proper manner to perform their task.
The Ministry of Education which makes and supervises policy and the Regional Democratic Councils, which implement policies, will support such community involvement.
Notwithstanding the political propaganda, we have been making steady progress. For example, this year (both in terms of the percentage and the number of passes with Grades I to III in English and Mathematics at the CXC) our results have been the best in 20 years.
In 1992, the year our government came to office, only 369 or 9.8 per cent of candidates gained the equivalent of Grades I to III in English compared with 2,898 or 37.4 per cent in 2003.
In Mathematics, in 1992 only 580 or 18.4 per cent gained the equivalent of Grades I to III compared to 1856 or 24.8 per cent today.
Contrary to what is said in some quarters, we believe that there has been substantial progress. This is not to say that we should not aim for more improvements: aim to be more productive.
Over the years we have significantly increased the resources going to education, both as a percent of GDP and the national budget.
As a result, we believe that even if we take into account, the increase in the numbers of students, the change in the exchange rate, the added cost of educating the marginal child and the general rate of inflation, the present allocation reflects a considerable increase.
Nevertheless, this is comparatively small when compared to what our CARICOM neighbours actually spend per child (Barbados about US$2,500; Trinidad and Tobago US$900; Jamaica US$600; Guyana US$175). Therefore, comparisons with those neighbours are only of nostalgic significance.
Outside of some comparative framework, what is possible with any level of input is not known and, hyperbole aside, it is yet to be demonstrated that our system is under-performing.
Indeed, the contrary appears to be more true.
However, our emphasis upon modernization, that is, decentralization, the increased use of technology; teacher training, support and retention, etc, is rooted in the belief that we could do better.
Of significance, we can now confirm that Mr. Daniel Ram of Queen's College who secured 11 Grades I and three grades 2 passes at the CXC is this year's top student in Guyana and the Caribbean.
His achievement at these examinations is also the best ever for Guyana.
Daniel, his parents, teachers and supporters should be congratulated for what is indeed a remarkable achievement.
Please join with us as we strive to improve the education system for all our children.