Jul 10, 2010 Letters
I am responding to the letter: “Democratization of Education”, published in Kaieteur News 03-07-10, written by a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education, Mr. Hydar Ally.
In doing so, I write as a Guyanese patriot and not as a partisan. I will endeavour to give this issue the seriousness and objectivity it deserves, and will refrain from making any comparisons between the accomplishments of the present government and those of any other previous government.
However, after reading Mr. Ally’s letter, I have come to the conclusion that the mistake we have been making all these years, is to equate school attendance or access to schooling with receiving an education.
I would like to suggest that in order to fully comprehend the real meaning of “democratization of education”, it is imperative that we understand first, what is meant by – “to educate”, and second, what is implied and demanded in the democratization of education. Success in the “democratization in the delivery of education to children and young people in Guyana” as claimed by the writer, will have to be judged in accordance with demonstrated commitment to criteria inherent in the concepts – “to educate”, and “to democratize the delivery of education”.
The words educe and educate, are derived from the Latin verb ‘educere’ – to draw out or draw forth. To educate (which is an extension of educe), means not only to draw out or draw forth, but in addition, to nurture, train and develop the innate capacities (potentials) which have been drawn out or drawn forth. When applied to human development, to educate means not only to discover the hidden talents of individuals, but also, to provide the humane experiences that will nurture, train and cause these innate potentials to develop optimally.
Implicit in the foregoing is the use of a variety of strategies and methodologies tailored to the multiple intelligences and needs of individuals.
This is what it means to educate – not just increased access to schooling by building new schools and providing places in classes where the teachers for the most part use chalk, talk, drill and rote.
To have an adequate conceptualization of what it means to “democratize the delivery of education” (to use the writer’s own words), we can take our cue from one of the pillars of the democratic process characterized by – ‘one man, one vote’. Whether you are a rich man, poor man, beggar man or thief, each vote has equal value on election day. This is a “Right” enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Guyana.
It is, therefore, essential that each and every citizen be intellectually prepared to discharge his or her civic duties responsibly.
Therefore, to democratize education in Guyana (or to “democratize the delivery of education in Guyana”), it is imperative that education in Guyana be declared a “Human Right” enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana. Education is the other pillar of a democracy. The “Vote” and “Education” go together like a horse and carriage. These are the two pillars of any viable democracy. After 44 years of political independence, education is yet to be declared the Constitutional “Right” of every Guyanese citizen.
This would mean that any government of Guyana would not only be morally bound to provide access to schooling, since schooling is compulsory by law, but also, legally bound to provide each and every Guyanese child throughout the length and breadth of Guyana, from Waini Point to Crabwood Creek, from the New River Triangle to the Rupununi, not only with the same quantity (number of years in school), but also with the same quality of education (well resourced schools with ample and adequate facilities, staffed by well educated and competent professionals). At present this is not the case. Although we cannot, realistically, expect this to be accomplished in near future unless the fortunes of Guyana change dramatically, evidence of progress in this direction during the 44 years of conducting our own affairs, would have been most welcome.
However, since the government is not legally bound to provide the same quality of education for each and every Guyanese child, few schools, if any, have ample and adequate facilities or are purpose-built, or are staffed by well educated and competent professionals. Had the parents of some students not been able to afford the costs of extra lessons (before and after school, week-ends and holidays included) provided by experienced teachers, we would have been unable to herald the successes of many of our students, much less claim parity with other Caribbean students. There is so much dissatisfaction with the public school system in Guyana that private schools have been mushrooming all over the country. Sadly, only the children of those parents who can afford to pay the necessary school fees have the choice of attending any of these private institutions. Would this be an example of the “democratization of the delivery of education” in progress?
Mr. Editor, over 12 other claims have been made in the letter “Democratization of Education” (Kaieteur News 03-07-10), all of which can be challenged on the grounds of validity, merit and effectiveness. However, after the above exposition, the writer may now wish to recant.
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