In an attempt to realise continued improvement in the public education system, the Ministry of Education has mandated all schools to meet consistently with parents to discuss their children’s progress. This development was outlined in a statement issued by the Minister yesterday.
And this mandatory proposal, according to the Minister, will be instrumental in fostering collaborations to generate collective plans for overall improvements.
“We have also worked assiduously to ensure that Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) are structured and are operating effectively in most, if not all, schools across the country.” Baksh is optimistic that this year, already engaged measures will be expanded to ensure that schools become true community entities.
A recent international report published by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) states that “Guyana…has made significant strides in making schools child-friendly.”
As such Baksh underscored that it is of utmost importance “for us to improve on this in 2011 so that all of our schools are welcoming, clean and safe environments for all of our children and staff.”
According to Baksh, his Ministry is committed to seeing the overwhelming majority of students wanting to attend school regularly and punctually, a development which will undoubtedly require the support of communities.
He further asserted that the increase in the number of students writing the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examination is highly encouraging and speaks to progress in reducing the drop-out rate and the provision of viable options for all of students at the secondary level.
He revealed that although the pass rates in Mathematics and English have improved, “we are certainly not satisfied with these levels and have implemented various strategies aimed at raising these scores; an approach which has gained the full support of all of our secondary head-teachers.”
In addition, he noted that significant resources are continually being channelled into the secondary alternative pathways through the Secondary Competency Certificate Programme which has expanded over the past year. This is especially essential to ensure that each student leaves school with some basic level of competency in core areas.
And all efforts, according to Baksh, are already aimed at making this a reality.
“Critical in attaining this, however, is the foundation set for all of our pupils, beginning at the pre-primary level. It is important that enrolment continues to increase so that more of our children can be guaranteed a solid foundation on which to build their educational futures.”
Added to this, Baksh said, that a range of initiatives have been introduced to improve performance at the primary level. The continuous assessment programme, the new literacy methodology which includes the literacy hour and accelerated literacy instruction periods, the Interactive Radio Instruction programme, the Fast-track Literacy programme and the National Grade Six Assessment are all currently being evaluated to ensure that “we optimize their collective potential in certifying that our pupils are literate and numerate by the time they complete the primary cycle.”
At the same time, he noted that the Ministry has introduced the Literacy Certification Assessment at the Grade Four level which will be conducted in June of this year and is critical in ensuring all students attain the prescribed literacy benchmarks.
According to Baksh, the Ministry is now in fact ensuring that students are given support in basic areas
of need. He said that from reports received from every Regional Education Department, the introduction of the National School Feeding Programme has had a significant impact on students’ attendance and attention levels.
Further, he noted that the Ministry has been highly encouraged with the overwhelming response to the distribution of school uniforms and textbooks across the country.
“We now provide support for students writing CSEC with CDs and study materials in English and Mathematics and our newly established Multimedia Centre along with the Educational Television Channel will go a long way in supporting classroom instruction with a range of supplemental resources.”
But in all of this, he noted that teachers have the most critical role to play, adding that the Ministry remains committed to supporting efforts in improving performance standards. This is evident by the assigning of Literacy Coordinators to every region and efforts to continue training of teachers and provide instructional support in this critical area.
In addition, Baksh said that the Ministry has developed the competency framework for teachers in the area of Information Technology which will support the infusion of technology in classroom delivery strategies.
“We are on track in our efforts to equip our primary and secondary schools with functional Information Technology laboratories and we have acquired a range of supporting educational software to this end. The Cyril Potter College of Education is now offering the Associate Degree programme…This innovation entails a higher level of academic preparation for our teachers as it requires them to be more aligned to the needs of students in this modern era.”
He noted that teachers can now be trained and move on to the University of Guyana to complete their Degree in as little as four years. As such he said that the Ministry has engaged the University in discussions regarding the structure of their academic programme to limit the time teachers spend away from the classroom to attend classes.
“Our teachers must at the same time recommit themselves to provide the required remediation and additional support many of our students so desperately need to be successful. This is critical if more of our students are to find true value in their educational experiences,” Baksh added.
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