Teaching staff turnover affecting Region 1 schools by Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
March 5, 2004

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INTERNAL migration is adversely affecting the staffing of schools and student learning in Region 1 (Barima/Waini).

Regional Education Officer, Oswald Valenzuela, made this disclosure at a press conference yesterday hosted by the Ministry of Education. The conference took place at the National Center for Education Resource Development (NCERD), Kingston.

Valenzuela explained that because of the absence of electricity and other social facilities and the cost of living being high compared to salaries many teachers opt not to return to the region after attending the University of Guyana or other tertiary institutions. This he said results in a shortage of teachers in some schools.

Chief Education Officer, Ed Caesar in relation to this problem said also that marriages and promotions are another factor that contributes to the internal migration problem.

Valenzuela pointed out also that traveling to schools in the region takes a lot of time because many of the schools are located in riverain areas, therefore getting to these locations require traveling by boats.

Despite the difficulties being encountered efforts are being continued under the region's motto "Quality Education and a Better Life for All" to improve educational standards.

In this regard he said the recent establishment of a an in-service branch of the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) in the region would help to provide better trained teachers for schools there.

Touching on the performance of students at the Secondary School Entrance Examinations (SSEE) Valenzuela reported that in 2002, 357 students wrote the examination and 150 passed, while for last year the comparable figures are 475 and 126.

Region 1 is divided into three sub-regions: Mabaruma, Moruka and Matarkai and has a total of 384 teachers who service 13 nursery, 42 primary, 2 secondary schools and one Community High School.

Also sharing the press conference was the Regional Education Officer of Region 7 (Mazaruni/Potaro), Ms. Urlina Crandon who disclosed because of the far flung nature of the communities in which schools are located it is very difficult to get teachers together to hold discussions and conduct upgrading courses, and tedious method of visiting individual schools has to be resorted to.

Overcrowding and discipline in schools at Bartica are posing serious problems, however, discipline in schools in the riverain communities is not a problem, Ms. Crandon pointed out, adding that the discipline problems in Bartica are so severe that counseling of students has to be resorted to.

She noted, however, that performances at the SSEE were heartening last year with several students gaining places at leading secondary schools including one each for President's College, St. Stanislaus College and St. Joseph High School among others.

At the level of the Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC), one student of Bartica Secondary School gained eight subjects while three gained seven subjects, with several others gaining four or more subjects.

Meanwhile, Ms. Crandon disclosed that beginning this year 93 students of the other secondary school in the region the Waramadong Secondary School will be writing CSEC.

However, she reported that the school has only six teachers who have to teach all the examination subjects.

The student population of the region is 5, 510 and is being taught by 146 trained and 129 untrained teachers in four nursery schools, 26 nursery classes within the 29 primary schools and two secondary schools.