Marketing Guyana By Miranda La Rose

Stabroek News
September 22, 2003

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In the past eleven years, private schools have mushroomed, and while they are largely unregulated their exam results have for the most part been above the national average.

The Ministry of Education is to make available to the public this week the list of private schools which have been granted permission to offer nursery, primary and secondary education.

Stabroek News made several attempts to obtain a list from the ministry and has now been told by officials that an updated list was being prepared by the Office of the Chief Education Officer, Ed Caesar.

His secretary told Stabroek News that a list was being prepared and that it should be out by mid-week.

Currently there is no legislation in place governing the establishment or operation of private schools but the ministry has certain criteria in place for their establishment and operation within the country’s education sector.

There is also a general building regulation which must be adhered to.

Mae’s Secondary and the School of the Nations were the pioneers of private education in the last decade and both schools have recorded overall good performances. Annual fees for private schools range from $30,000 for the nursery level to US$1,000 at the secondary level.

Towards the end of the last academic year, the schools the Ministry of Education had recognised as private schools and centres of examinations were the New Guyana School, the School of the Nations, Marian Academy, the Business School, Emmanuel Trust Complex, the New Guyana Education Trust and Green Acres in Georgetown, and Aroaima Primary in Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice).

However, this newspaper understands that in addition to these, others granted permission to operate are ABC Academy, La Premier Academy, ISA School (Muslim), and the Hindu School in Cornelia Ida.

The Chief Education Officer, Ed Caesar is responsible for granting permission for private schools to operate. For public schools to function as legal entities they are required to be gazetted.

Romeo McAdam, Deputy Chief Education Officer with responsibility for administration told Stabroek News that a new school, which opened in the McDoom/Agricola area, had not been inspected or granted permission by the Ministry of Education to operate. As far as he knew, the school had not applied for permission.

No one in the Ministry could tell this newspaper, on record, how many places the recognised private schools have provided, but it is estimated to be in the vicinity of 4,500. Secondary places were estimated at 2,500. Despite this capacity, public secondary schools in the city, where most of the private schools are located, remain overcrowded.

On an average, some 15,000 candidates write the Secondary Schools Entrance Examinations each year and placements are becoming an issue for the Georgetown Education Department each year. One senior education official told Stabroek News that it appeared that more children were taking up their places in the secondary schools. Tutorial High and North Georgetown Secondary are among those which are most overcrowded in the city.

There was an expectation by the ministry that with the coming into being of private schools a number of public schools would have been able to provide more places.

Asked about the performance of the private schools at examinations, it was noted that in terms of the Secondary Schools Entrance Examinations (SSEE), the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and the General Certificate of Education (GCE) examinations, results had been good.

Education Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey, at a recent press briefing, said that their performance had been in keeping with the tuition fees and the resources that they had available. He noted that at the last sitting of the CXC the overall performance of the recognised private schools had been above the national and Caribbean one in terms of average passes.

He noted that the performance of the private schools was on a par with those of the country’s leading senior secondary schools where the cream of the crop from the SSEE were placed. The majority of the students at private schools obtained placements for junior secondary schools including community high schools. However, with resources and opportunities made available at private schools, he said those students who stayed on in them had performed well at the CSEC examinations. Jeffrey noted that there was a correlation between the level of tuition fees and the results obtained.

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