Education Ministry to fast-track 5-year strategic plan By Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
January 16, 2004

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Education Minister Dr. Henry Jeffrey says his Ministry has made a reasonable start in the implementation of the Education Strategic Development Plan 2003 - 2007 despite some constraints and serious challenges. He said every effort will be made to accelerate that progress during this year.

The minister spoke at a press conference yesterday at the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD), Kingston, to review the public education sector's 2003 performance.

"In spite of the many challenges the prolonged strike by teachers, inadequate staff in some key departments, the continued absence of the two service commissions among others many of the foundation activities for improving literacy and numeracy, which are fundamental strategic objectives, were started and in some cases completed," Dr. Jeffrey observed.

Access to secondary education was improved with the construction of a new secondary school and repairs to a significant number others, the minister reported, however, he conceded that despite the increase in the number of private schools there is still a serious shortage of places at the secondary level.

The School Mapping/Geographical Information exercise which will assist the Education Ministry to make decisions about the need for more places, school mergers and generally to give a diagnosis of education provision at the regional level, Dr. Jeffrey explained adding that given limits of resources this year there will be serious consideration of introducing a shift system at the secondary level.

Other activities to establish Universal Secondary Education (USE) were given high priority the minister said, noting that while all the regional USE plans were not completed as anticipated, completion was achieved in three regions and another three made good progress.

Dr. Jeffrey observed that despite being adversely by the teachers strike training of teachers from the secondary departments of primary and community high schools to function in a general secondary setting continued. He added that work on the development of an alternative learning path-with a strong technical bias at the secondary level has reached an advanced stage.

The Basic Competency Certificate Programme (BCCP) which will be introduced during the first quarter this year is one year/eighteen month competency - based course intended for all fourth form students and will provide entry level skills for the world of work and further training, the minister indicated.

In the field of special education, Dr. Jeffrey said a small but positive start has been made, and during last year the Ministry was for the first time able to employ Senior Education Officer-Special Education to plan and monitor this sector.

He observed that the first task is to prepare a strategic plan that will then be availed to the regions and individual schools, while with respect to physical education curriculum guides have been completed and regional coordinators are being identified and training of teachers and social partners has begun.

Curriculum guides for levels one to nine have also been completed and training started for the Ministry's Family Life Education programme, Dr. Jeffrey said, adding that through an infusion methodology such issues as HIV/AIDS, morality and ethics will be dealt with.