Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, is very concerned about the manner in which some Berbice schools are being managed and supervised.
He linked the poor management of these schools to the ineffective and much to be desired results at the final examinations at these schools, namely the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and CSEC Exams.
The Minister, along with top- brass officials of the Ministry of Education (MOE), had summoned all head teachers in Regions Five and Six to a meeting yesterday at the University of Guyana Berbice Campus.
Because of the poor management, he said that his Ministry will now be focusing more on these poor-performing schools and less on those schools which are doing well. The Minister expressed disappointment that many students pass through the education system and are allowed to finish it without even knowing how to read and write properly.
“It’s a serious indictment in this country when students are moving through the grades and can’t read. You see the public concern about literacy everyday you open the newspapers,” he said.
He pressed the school managers present to make sure each child in the schools is catered for. He challenged them to ensure that each child under their care knows to read and write by the time that child would have passed through Grade Two in primary school.
He told the gathering that if teachers do not capture children during this “learning” window period, the chances of the children not knowing to read become greater.
He blamed parents for not sending their children to school regularly and punctually. He said that the MOE has measures to deal with those, whom he termed, “difficult” parents. “Those difficult parents who are not responding to your calls must be taken to a higher level [to court]”, he said.
One of the initiatives that the Education Ministry is seriously contemplating is to have students write only English and Mathematics at the NGSA because these are the two areas of deficiency in student performance.
Baksh said that this system already obtains in Caricom. He said that they are also deciding whether to pay teachers to offer extra instructional time after school and on weekends, to students who are slow in English and Mathematics.
“But you [the teachers] have to ask for this. We will ensure prompt payments to them [the teachers who will participate]”, he said.
He praised Region Five for having just near to the requirement of 70 per cent trained and graduate teachers. Region Five has 69 per cent trained teachers and some 66.4 per cent trained teachers at the primary schools. However, he alluded to a meager 39 per cent regional Mean Score at the NGSA in that same region and said that this is the general picture in other regions as well.
He urged the school managers to raise that figure to 50 per cent immediately.
Baksh also told the senior educators of both regions that he believes many head teachers are too “cozy with teachers” at their schools and that this practice is affecting proper management of the schools.
Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam, and Senior Technical Adviser to the Minister, Mr Roopnarine Tiwari, and Regional Education Officers of Regions Five and Six were also present during the meeting.
During a plenary segment, head teachers aired concerns, shared ideas and solutions, recommendations and posed questions to the minister and his team from Georgetown. Some of the matters raised during the plenary were the need for radios and TVs for primary schools, timely delivery of biscuits and juice for schools, not enough stocks and materials to clean school lavatories and what one head teacher referred to as “hunting for textbooks” for his school.
Similar meetings are expected to be held throughout the country shortly. (Leon Suseran)
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