Education Ministry announces plan to recruit retired teachers
Stabroek News
January 28, 2007

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The Ministry of Education will be moving to recruit retired teachers as part of a wider effort to enhance the delivery of education countrywide.

Education Minister Shaik Baksh made the announcement at a forum arranged by the ministry to interact with school administrators on Friday and he said the move to bring retired teachers back into the system is in keeping with the ministry's policy to have a dominance of qualified and trained teachers. "These people have experience, knowledge and wisdom and we need their services but the administrations of the different schools will have to evaluate these teachers and so it will not be an automatic process," Baksh said.

The minister told the Heads and Deputy Heads from all the schools in Georgetown that the ministry was working on this along with a number of other issues which will form part of a five-year strategic plan.

He said the ministry was working towards an upward move in the education system with less reliance on the central ministry.

"For too long we have had this heavy reliance on the central ministry; any development to come in the system would have to come from you, the teachers," Baksh charged. "We have to move from policing the system with the bureaucracy at the head, we want a partnership arrangement with the entire education system and so we want to have that changed this year."

And in its effort to maintain trained and qualified persons in the education system, Baksh said, the ministry will look at the retirement age for teachers and will conduct a study on phased retirement, its possible effects and implications.

Baksh also revealed a plan to work with the University of Guyana (UG) to have the classes in its education programme held mostly in the afternoon hours to facilitate teachers.

"This would mean a review in the granting of leave of absence for teachers who attend UG; these have to be managed so that it does not affect the delivery of education," he contended.

This comes in the wake of complaints from many head teachers as well as students that teachers have often limited their hours of teaching to be able to attend their classes at UG, many times leaving students unattended.

The minister also flayed teachers for this, saying that commitment was lacking among some teachers.

The placement system is also slated for discussion and subsequent review as the ministry strives to remove the notion of "top primary" schools.

"Each year there is confusion and parents always have problems with where their children are placed… We just want an equitable system and subsequently we may have a new method of enrolment and we hope to complete this shortly," the minister said.

He said the notion of top schools must be erased and to change this perception the ministry will look to have a more unified distribution of trained teachers. "We will work with the union, the Teaching Service Commission and school administrations because they to have a role to play.

"At the primary level I do not see the need for children to go to a school far out of their area just because that school is considered to be a top school, so we want to erase this concept," he added.

As part of the new strategic plan too, the minister disclosed that the involvement of school boards in the day-to-day running of the schools was being examined.

He said while boards have an important role to play it was important that they have a greater understanding in this regard, since there were complaints of some boards wreaking havoc with some school administrations.

"You must be given scope to manage the school system," he told the Heads and Deputy Heads and added that boards were allowed to do too much. This situation is currently being better evaluated and a system will have to be put in place for them to know their role and execute only that," he said.

In this regard too the ministry proposes to train Heads in effective school management.

The conduciveness of school environments was another sore point raised by the minister, which he said the school's management will have to address. In this regard he stressed the need for a vibrant Parent Teachers Association and highlighted too, the ministry's plan to hire personnel to address these specific issues.

Meanwhile, a countrywide literacy survey and a plan to address the high incidence of school drop-outs are lined up as elements of the ministry's five-year strategic plan.

More commitment

But the minister feels all the plans for the upward movement of the education system would be useless without teacher commitment. As such a call was made in this regard.

"Whatever we do, you and I, we will be evaluated at different levels and we will be judged in terms of what we have delivered to our nation's children," the minister told the administrators.

"This will require a partnership and all of us in the education sector have a part to play in educating our children and I want your support to commit yourself to making this a reality," the minister appealed.

He urged them to join him and the ministry in moving Guyana to the top of the education chart in the region.