The fact that the education sector has been under tremendous scrutiny over the last two years has served to help bolster progress as it relates to the delivery of education. Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, made reference to this notion recently, even as he voiced his belief that“…a day does not pass without some commentary in the print or electronic media about the education sector. I have checked the number of editorials last year and there were over 60 on the education sector of Guyana alone.”
According to Baksh, “I don’t think any other sector has gained so much prominence and this is how it should be…as I have always said we must debate continuously on education issues and be bold enough to effect changes such as policy changes and other initiatives and so on as we go along.”
The Minister’s remarks were forthcoming recently when he addressed a gathering at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) to mark the launch of a multi-million-dollar project geared at improving teacher quality. The project represents a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education and the World Bank.
In the area of teacher education and training, Baksh asserted that the intent is to see the transformation of Guyana through various initiatives. As such, he noted that the investments that have been streamlined come as a result of a lot of hard work internally by the staff of the Central Ministry of Education and the CPCE.
Quoting from the Teacher Education Hemispheric Project which speaks to the question of a harmonized policy framework for teacher education in the Caribbean, Baksh pointed out that “teacher education is more aligned conceptually to the transformational model which use teaching as an intellectual process.”
The education of a teacher, he said, should be seen as a process of development of persons into teaching and learning steps, who are able to respond to the ever changing and unpredictable school-classroom context through reflection and informed decision-making. Such persons, he said, should be sensitized to issues of social justice that relate to education and schooling, and empowered to be its advocates.
In developing any programme on teacher education, Baksh noted, there is always need to look at the aims and purposes of education as defined by the Ministry of Education. “That is very, very important and in our strategic plan, which has a clear vision outlined for the development of education generally, and teacher education in particular, it states that education is more than an instrumental activity for supporting national development or reducing poverty.”
According to Baksh, too, intrinsic value is important in education in order for students to achieve their full potential, be provided with knowledge, skills and values, and be able to lead happy and productive lives.
“Not a single child must be left outside of the system…Love of country, respect diversity and ideal of democracy, justice and peace – that is the vision outlined for the education system of Guyana…”
The need to revamp teacher education is linked to the fact that the current programmes at the teachers’ training college were not delivering, and due to the fact that Guyana has been placed behind the rest of the Caribbean, according to Baksh.
Based on a survey conducted two years ago by the World Bank, “it was clearly shown that Guyana needed to catch up with what was taking place in Caribbean countries.”
In recognition of this state of affairs, Baksh said that efforts were engaged to move “very vigorously and in two years we have reached this position. In teacher education there are many challenges and complex issues, it is not just about infrastructural problems which you can move ahead very quickly with, but it calls for deeper thinking.”
Moreover, the Minister disclosed that the Education Ministry has been able to benefit from a number of consultancies which has helped to ensure that the foundation was laid for the World Bank-supported teacher education project, which is poised to help improve the effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of quality teacher education.
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