New batch of teaching volunteers arrives
To help in core subjects
Stabroek News
August 28, 2003

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Twenty-two Project Trust volunteers from the UK, Holland and Ireland are in Guyana to assist in the teaching of Mathematics, Science and English in the interior and some parts of the East Bank of Demerara.

The teachers, mostly teenagers, were yesterday formally welcomed at a reception held at the Georgetown Club on Camp Street.

Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Education, Ganga Persaud, filling in for Minister Dr Henry Jeffrey told the volunteers that their focus would be in the two critical areas of Mathematics and Science. This was because the just concluded CXC examinations showed that Guyana had performed very poorly compared to other countries.

He warned that their work, particularly where they would be placed, would be very challenging and that some of the challenges would be so great they would not be able to overcome them by the end of their stay.

Guyana’s Project Trust representative, Kala Seegopaul told Stabroek News that the programme had begun in Guyana in 1992 with six volunteers. She said every year a batch of volunteers would arrive in the country to relieve their colleagues. This batch of volunteers would be paired and sent to secondary schools in Mabaruma, Annai, St Ignatius, Wauna, Port Kaituma, Aishalton, Waramadong, Paramakatoi, St Cuthbert, Covent Garden and Friend-ship, East Bank Demerara.

According to Seegopaul, once a commitment was made to a school it was usually kept for five years, with the idea of starting the students at Form One and bringing them through to Form Five. She said the project was like a trust fund, noting that each volunteer had to raise over $3,000 pounds sterling on their own.

Seegopaul said that apart from providing shelter for the volunteers and paying them a salary, all other expenses incurred were usually borne by the volunteers themselves.

She told this newspaper that everything was in place for their accommodation. She remarked that community support in Regions One and Nine had been excellent over the years. But she also pointed out that last year there were six volunteers at the Annandale Secondary and Bladen Hall Multilateral schools who were forced to leave because of the crime wave. Since then there have been no replacements.

Seegopaul said most of the volunteers were teenagers from 17 to 19. She said this was a gap year before going to university and in order for them to qualify they had to secure four A levels at one sitting with a minimum of a B grade.

Seegopaul said all of the volunteers had teaching experience, noting that they were all selected one year ago and teaching formed part of their training before they were selected.

The spokesperson for the volunteers, Pieter Vriesendorp said his colleagues were very excited about the challenge ahead and are looking forward to a productive stint in the country.