Jagdeo unhappy with education bureaucracy
Stabroek News
January 29, 2007

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President Bharrat Jagdeo says he is dissatisfied with the education bureaucracy and says he had suggested a long time ago that the Ministry of Education collaborate with the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD) to prepare special learning programmes to boost the sector.

A Government Information Agency (GINA) press release said Jagdeo made these statements during the graduation ceremony at the Saraswati Vidya Niketan Education Institute two Sundays ago. Jagdeo commended the staff at the institute commenting that many students did not have opportunities to interact with their teachers like those at the institute.

He recalled that he had suggested measures be put in place to boost programmes at schools with the purchase or free distribution of tapes.

The president also said the perception that rural children are uneducated and not as smart as those in urban areas is a fallacy and many times the problem is that they lack opportunities. The institute's Kamini Singh emerged as the top achiever with five distinctions and three grade ones at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams and received the President's Award. Twenty-eight other students graduated with Singh and the institute's Principal Swami Aksharananda said the school now ranks fourth with a 76.36 per cent average and with students recording 100 per cent passes in many subjects against the achievement at the national level. The institute, which was formed in 2002, and offered CSEC exams for the first time in 2005, recorded outstanding results at these exams during the past two years.

Jagdeo said he was disappointed when he compared those statistics with the national CSEC results. He said the education system's bureaucracy "has become fossilised" and "our reports are not good enough to match the changing context of the world." He reiterated that his discontent is levelled at the system and not at the teachers and that he had suggested the collaboration between the ministry and NCERD should include special programmes which focus on primary subjects such as Mathematics and English. Jagdeo said he recommended that they "prepare the learning materials for forms one to five… and we will dedicate enough time on the national television or even set up a learning channel dedicated to education."

Jagdeo said though some rural children face other challenges before his administration took office few Amerindian children were given the chance to pursue formal education beyond the primary level. "We don't know how fortunate we are on the coast although this is a rural area.

Before we got into office regions 1, 7, 8 and 9 … never had a secondary school, not a single one…Since we have been in office we have built secondary schools in some of the villages".

Jagdeo recalled that during his tenure as finance minister $25M was set aside for the National Library to erect branches throughout the country. "I said to them: buy a container, put it on a foundation, paint it up and put a little window and that can be the library so children can have access to books because I know growing up in the rural area how hard that was. They did not spend a cent," he said.