Investing in Excellence
We are extremely pleased with the announcement by President Ramotar that from this year, the top performers at CSEC and CAPE would be awarded scholarships abroad and at UG’. This newspaper has long advocated the resuscitation of the “Guyana Scholarship” programme which had produced so many distinguished Guyanese who went on to serve this country with great distinction.
In September 2007 we wrote, “We ought to take the lead from Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yu’s book when he set out in the 1960’s to chart and lead Singapore on the path to First World status. In addition to soliciting and receiving all the grants and aid that have been pouring in from the Cuba and the developed countries, let us in a structured manner negotiate a number of scholarships to the latter’s elite universities especially in the subject areas that would assist in our development thrust.
“As we have advocated in the past, let us resuscitate the Guyana Scholarships and award the scholarships obtained to the top Upper Sixth Form performers on condition that they return to serve the Government for five years after completion of their studies. This would provide, in our estimation, the requisite incentive for some of our best and brightest to return and serve our country.”
It appears that the government has eschewed the suggestion to negotiate scholarships with friendly governments and opted to pay for the scholarships. We hope that this policy is not carved in stone on the presumption that the universities in the US and UK are all ‘private’ and therefore not under the auspices of their governments. We are sure that the said governments extend a wide array of services to their universities, which give them some influence in awarding scholarships – once the awardees have satisfied the admission criteria.
But we also pointed out in 2007: “Today it is not just the UK that has a monopoly of the top universities – nor even the US, for that matter: India, China, Japan and a host of other countries can hold their own with the best in the world. In fact the top Indian colleges in science, engineering and business produce students who are in such demand that head hunters from the west snap them up like hotcakes.
“While we are on the subject, we ought to mention that the latter institutions were able to catch up with and even surpass the older ones in the developed countries by sticking to rigorous and rigid admission and retention standards.
As such, we believe that our Ministry and Minister of Education (MoE) are on the right track to insist that any student who wishes to proceed on to the Sixth Forms ought to have passes in English and Mathematics at CSEC. Sixth Form work is for those who intend to do serious University work and there ought to a solid initial screening process.”
We note that the government has offered scholarships to CSEC top students also, but we caution that if we expect these young students (generally sixteen years old) to enter the top foreign universities, they will have to complete their CAPE. And this brings us to the promise by the MoE that they will establish specialised Sixth Form School(s).
The recent CSEC results demonstrate that even though Queens College received the “cream of the crop” at the NGSA, they were unable to translate that into commensurately high results. We hope they had a ‘wake-up call” this year.
Something is amiss at what is supposed to be our ‘premier high school” – more so in light of interviews that revealed the Queens high flyers – at CSEC and CAPE – attributing their success to ‘lessons’. Many Guyanese do not remember that at present, all science students proceeding from CSEC to CAPE must transfer to Queen’s, which then somewhat undeservedly receives credit for their success.
The removal of their Sixth Forms to the specialised school might lessen whatever challenges the present Queens’ administration faces; and simultaneously better prepare scholarship winners, and other graduates, for the rigours of competitive university life.