Teachers abusing leave to attend UG

-Education Ministry official

Stabroek News

July 19, 2003

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The Ministry of Education is concerned that a number of teachers have been abusing the leave privileges for attending the University of Guyana, and leaving many classes unattended at their schools.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday quoted Walter Alexander, Administrator of the Secondary Schools Reform Project (SSRP), as saying that in many cases out of a possible 36 sessions per month (18 school days), some teachers have been known to leave their classes unattended for up to 32 sessions (16 school days).

For the six-month period between July to December 2002, in the 12 pilot schools of the SSRP there was an average teacher attendance of 89.2 percent. Alexander said this may not reflect badly but with an average student attendance of 65 percent for the same period, the actual teaching rate would be about 58 percent. This is far from acceptable by any standard, Alexander said, adding that the Ministry is not in any way opposed to the personal development of teachers. But he noted that by the same token, teachers are responsible for teaching the students.

Alexander said that often when teachers venture on to university, their classes at school are left unattended, and that is unfair to their students.

According to GINA, he further said that one prerequisite for a teacher being given approval to attend UG is that the area of studies must be applicable to what is taught in the Secondary Education System. Another important requirement is years-of-service.

In many cases, however, teachers could be found at UG pursuing studies in such disciplines as marketing, for example, which is not taught in secondary schools in Guyana, GINA reported. Alexander also remarked that it is interesting to note that private schools in Guyana do not allow their teachers time off to attend UG.

There is also concern about teachers utilizing time off to attend UG but really using the time to conduct other private business, including other part-time jobs, GINA said.

Over the last five years the lowest average teacher attendance occurred in the six-month period between July and December 1999. That attendance rate stood at an average of 86.6 percent. And the highest average rate of attendance stood at 89.6 percent for the period July through December 2001.