Education Ministry launches work-for-student programme by Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
January 30, 2004

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The Basic Competency Certificate Programme (BCCP) introduced by the Ministry of Education was officially launched yesterday at the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD).

Speaking at the launching ceremony Minister of Education, Dr. Henry Jeffrey described BCCP as a "renaissance" of technical/vocational education in Guyana, noting that the programme offers an alternative avenue to children to further their education in addition to preparing them for the world of work.

BCCP has been introduced at six pilot schools, but eventually every child at the fourth form level will be exposed to the programme so as to gain a level one competence in technical/vocational education.

Dr. Jeffrey reflecting on the early discussions on the formulation of the BCCP noted that there were lots of disagreements and "quarrels", but in the end there was "a decent outcome."

He explained that most of the disagreements stemmed from the fact that financial and other resources are limited, but opined that under such situations programmes should be designed in accordance with available resources.

He further stated nearly 17% of the national budget or 8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on education. Still, this turns to be a meager US$175 per child because of the smallness of the local economy.

The problem has also been compounded because since 1985 there has been no serious financial input into technical education, he added.

He is hoping though that resources for technical education would be boosted through the infusion of a US$8M soft loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) currently being negotiated.

The minister also announced that legislation has been drafted to cater for a National Council for Technical Education, which is intended to plan and oversee the implementation and maintenance of the required standards and quality in the delivery of technical education.

The legislation would be presented to the National Assembly for it to be deliberated upon before its enactment.

Chief Education Officer, Ed Caesar observing that the issue of unemployment is a worldwide one, and opined that if young people are not equipped for employment-be it self-employment or being employed in industry the problem will surge.

It is in this context Caesar said the BCCP is relevant and it is aimed at making students more rounded. In addition, it is anticipated that BCCP would inculcate a sense of pride when doing a job so that their work would be one of quality, Caesar remarked.

He exhorted the teachers and lecturers involved in the programme to be good facilitators to ensure its successful implementation in the interest of national development.

Caesar also expressed gratitude to the Jamaican government and people for making the modules for BCCP available to the Ministry of Education.

Education Officer Jerry Simpson in giving a background to the formulation of the BCCP noted that the draft programme was widely circulated and there was consultation with the industrial sector to have comments and recommendations, which were given serious considerations.