No shortage of teachers for city schools - ministry
...but experience is the real issue
Stabroek News
January 22, 2004

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While most schools in the city are adequately staffed, the challenge to the education system remains a shortage of experienced teachers.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday Assistant Chief Education Officer for Georgetown, Joseph Gilgeous, said there was no shortage of teachers in the city even though the country continues to experience migration of professionals.

Giving an outline of some of the Ministry of Education's plans for Georgetown schools, Gilgeous said one of the biggest challenges remains that of a shortage of experienced teachers and not a shortage of teachers.

He said the schools were adequately staffed with qualified teachers, but most of them had only recently graduated and as such did not have the requisite experience. Gilgeous said this situation would definitely impact on the delivery of education.

According to him, because there had been a freeze in employment in the public sector, many persons had reverted to teaching. He said most of these persons were well qualified, but they did not have a trained teachers' certificate or any experience in teaching.

He said there was little if anything the ministry could do to correct the situation, since every year teachers were leaving the country and most of those leaving were the experienced ones.

On other matters, Gilgeous told the media that the ministry will soon launch its Basic Competency Certificate Programme (BCCP). He said the programme would target fourth form students in the secondary schools. Gilgeous informed that the programme was geared to teach the students life skills, noting that there will be classes in industrial arts, home economics and agricultural science. He said it was hoped that after completing the programme the students would be able to secure employment or become entrepreneurs.

Additionally, there has been some measure of success with the Grade Two Assessment Programme which was developed last year. This programme targets primary school students and the development of their literacy and numeracy skills.

Gilgeous said last year the literacy aspect of the programme was not run off, but it was hoped that it would be done this year. He said the programme was being delivered by a corps of trained teachers. These teachers will, in turn, train other teachers in various schools to deliver the programme.

With respect to rehabilitation, Gilgeous said the ministry has been able to cope with several requests for work to be done on schools.

According to him, even though some of the work has not yet been carried out, a substantial amount has been completed and the ministry was still working to complete others. Gilgeous told the media that at present work was being carried out on Winfer Gardens Primary on East Street. In the meantime, the children are being housed at the National Sports Commission building on Woolford Avenue. He said this school should have been completed since September last year, but there had been delays. The contractor has now promised to complete it by the end of this month. Gilgeous said on Monday a team of top officials from the ministry visited the rehabilitated school and found that outstanding work included the connection of the water system, tiling of the floor and installation of the sewerage systems. He agreed that these were necessary and once completed the students would move into the building.

For this year the department is hoping to rehabilitate 31 schools: 12 nursery, ten primary and nine secondary.

Gilgeous said overcrowding in some of the city's schools, especially at the primary and nursery levels had to be controlled. He said, too, many parents had the pre-conceived notion that only the Georgetown schools are good. He said this notion had to change, while the ministry will work to correct the problem.

Gilgeous also spoke about promotions for teachers. He said there were a number of teachers functioning in acting capacities in schools around the city. Gilgeous was confident that with the Teaching Service Commission now fully constituted some of these posts would be confirmed.