An unbiased assessment of our education sector
October 28, 2003
EARLIER this month the Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ms. Lolita Applewhaite, said that Guyana's education system was "widely regarded as one of the soundest systems in the Caribbean region and certainly in the world."
She noted that despite the brain drain, the "outstanding performances being honoured...and which have been produced consistently by Guyanese students...are evidence of this excellence."
This recognition of Guyana's education system is indeed heartening, since it comes from outside of our country and reflects an unbiased assessment of our education sector.
We are so accustomed to the hyper-defeatism of so many local critics that sometimes it takes an outsider to give balance to the excessive complaints and attacks on our education system.
Before the 28 years of the previous government's rule, Guyana stood high in the Caribbean in the field of education.
We gradually lost this position as less and less attention and funding took place in our education system.
Our school buildings deteriorated, the extension of teacher training introduced by the PPP governments in the 1950s and 1960s were dismantled and the percentage of the budget for education dropped.
With the advent of the PPP/Civic government in 1992, efforts began to halt the deterioration in education, starting with better funding and a commitment to restore the dilapidated and uncared-for school buildings.
The critics challenged this, saying that better school buildings are not the answer to better education.
However, as we all know, it is part of the effort, for without a decent school building, it's not easy to carry on the functions of education.
So far, almost all have been restored and many new ones built.
The process of teacher training has been speeded up and teachers' salaries have moved upwards. Slowly but surely the standard of education has improved, so much so that for the first time children in rural schools are matching those in urban schools.
Improved facilities, computers, laboratories, libraries, et cetera, have all contributed to an improved education system.
Of course, we have a long way to go to meet our hopes and ideals. But we are proudly on the path of restoring our once high place in education.