Vision lacking for education – PNCR
• Functional illiteracy levels still alarming

Kaieteur News
February 16, 2007

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The People's National Congress Reform (PNCR) thinks that there is a lack of vision on the part of the Government, and this is exemplified in its failure to make good on its many promises as they relate to education.

This is according to PNCR Member of Parliament Amna Ally, who said that the Government's vision appears blurred on the important of education to the societal growth. But PPP MP Bernard De Santos, in his rebuttal, charged that the opposition has failed dismally in its attempt to deflate the budget presentation.

He argued that Government has made good on its promises, and has lifted Guyana from its valley of despair to the precipice of achievement. “The PPP has earned international respect …as we see roads, hotels, the stadium and bridges are being built across the country,” De Santos stated.

These comments were made yesterday during the Parliamentary debate. “It is my hope that those empty promises can become reality, because education determines the progress rate, and the success of a nation is the indicator from which society evolves,” Ally said.

She added that education has been so important to the PNC that during the party's tenure in the seat of government, a lot of emphasis was placed on education. The party, she said, invested time, money and effort, which saw the development of an indigenous curriculum during that period.

Ally noted that building schools is nothing new, since many schools were built and staffed between 1976 and 1992. “The education system is weakened because of a lack of vision and purpose-driven motive. While the plan is good, the Government lacks the capacity,” Ally remarked.

She stated that the budget detailed an attainment of 100 percent functional literacy by increased access to all academic levels of education in every region.

“But we must create the conditions that will provide opportunities for 100 percent literacy,” Ally said. She said human resources are very vital, yet there are students who still cannot read and write. Ally stressed that a methodology for assessment must also be employed.

According to Ally, the results of a PNCR survey conducted on literacy and numeracy in Georgetown and other areas are alarming. “We have established two learning centres, including in Sophia, and we will continue. But eliminating literacy is not enough,” Ally stated. She further highlighted that SSEE non-placers are left to elements with non-existent teachers at ill-equipped schools.

Ally said that Government can learn from CARICOM countries on educational issues, citing St Kitts with its non-formal youth skills training for high school dropouts, peer education to address teen pregnancy, and vacation programmes that are effective. The MP said neglect of these students can lead to even more distasteful situations, adding that programmes must also be formulated for the intellectually-challenged. The PNCR is in support of the BEAMS and other special needs education projects but, Ally said, Government lacks the capacity to manage them.

“Installing a few computers here and there cannot be a vision. Our teachers are dissatisfied, disillusioned, and frustrated.

The five-percent wage agreement proposed by the Minister has trampled on the rights of our teachers and would not help to keep them in Guyana,” Ally said. She noted that most teachers do not qualify for the highly improbable duty-free concessions, housing plans and scholarships.

The MP added that the Government has embraced many of the PNC-implemented programmes as if it had initiated them. However, she pointed out that it was former President Forbes Burnham who paved the way for free education.

According to Ally, as it relates to text books for schools, the Government has failed miserably, even with international funding.

• “It is time Guyana shows by its output how much it has been a recipient of donor aid,” Ally stressed.