An evaluation into the operation of the Guyana Learning Channel will be undertaken within two weeks which may lead to a review of what is already being done, according to Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh.
This move, according to Baksh, will entail the involvement of some 100 persons, inclusive of head teachers, teachers and students, who are expected to provide feedback at a formal forum slated to be held at the National Center for Educational Resource Development (NCERD).
“This is a new programme for Guyana and we need feedback on what people think about the programming itself, about the content of the programme and all of these things, and therefore we will conduct a more formal evaluation which may change the way we are doing things now.”
Minister Baksh revealed, too, that as the programme progresses, local content is being developed but this will not be accomplished overnight. He acknowledged that there have been some early teething problems which are currently being resolved.
The Ministry, Baksh said, is moving towards linking the academic programmes to the curriculum in the school system in selected areas. However it is expected that programming will focus on early childhood, primary, secondary and technical and vocational education.
The intent, according to the Minister, is to improve continuously on the quality of the programming.
“We are going to start building content over time. We have already acquired a lot of content from internationally recognised universities like the Indira Gandhi Open University and many others in the Caribbean.”
The Minister revealed that some very interesting academic programmes have been surfacing in the area of science and the Ministry is seeking to thrust those along with mathematics programmes to a prominent level.
Having scrutinized the learning channel programming over the last two weeks, Baksh said that there has been a qualitative improvement since the start of the programme close to two months ago. He is especially pleased with the programmes in the area of the sciences.
The Iwokrama group along with some other private individuals and entities have been working along with the Ministry to improve the airing capacity of the learning channel.
Baksh revealed that Government Ministries including Health and Agriculture have been developing programmes to aid the Channel as well.
“Locally we are asking persons if they develop content to bring it to us and we will look at it and screen it.”
In addition, efforts are being directed at collaboration with the Brazilian and Venezuelan Embassies to be able to develop modules for language programmes.
This is essential, the Minister said, if there is to be effective sequencing and coherence of programming.
“We are working with these entities and we are hoping to have somebody look at these programmes for language development, especially for Spanish and Portuguese. So it is now all coming out…people expected a miracle in two weeks…since its (the Learning Channel) establishment.”
“Notwithstanding some of the criticism, what people should have been doing instead is to give us feedback; we have an open line…We need feedback about people’s thinking so that we can make improvements… television programmes are like that.”
According to the Minister, the education sector is on the move to improve quality of programmes, especially the academic content, and is therefore sourcing more and more programmes.
The operation of the Learning Channel is being coordinated by Dr Seeta Shah-Roath, who according to Minister Baksh “is well qualified and she has extensive experience in TV programming and communications.”
Dr Shah-Roath is a re-migrant and was instrumental in setting up a multimedia centre at NCERD, the Minister disclosed. “I am satisfied with her inputs.”
Dr Shah-Roath in an invited comment recently said that she is contented that only the best of efforts are being applied even as “we address the technological and logistical challenges.”
According to her, efforts are being focused on a continuous improvement drive for both content development and acquisition and delivery of the Learning Channel.
The Learning Channel is being introduced in three phases, with the first phase covering most of the Coastal Belt from Charity to Corriverton; the second phase is expected to be in place by this monthend or early June, and should extend to the areas of Kwakwani, Ituni, Linden and a few others, while the third phase is expected to cover all other areas across Guyana.
However, Minister Baksh noted that there have been some delays in the coverage capabilities as Government has been seeking to get approval from neighbouring countries for the kind of frequency of their transmitting sets.
“We have been able to get that now, so we have already placed our orders for areas bordering Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname, so that will cause a slight delay and we expect these by June or July.”
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