Parents and students alike were among the target audience that Minister of Education Priya Manickchand reached out to yesterday as she continued to amplify the need for an urgent improvement in the Mathematics and English pass rate obtained countrywide. The recently appointed Minister, backed by senior education officials the likes of Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam, and Assistant Chief Education Officer (Secondary), Ms. Doodmattie Singh, have been travelling the country to meet with stakeholders ahead of the commencement of a project, slated to start next week. The project is aimed at improving the national pass rate in the target subject areas and is intended to prepare students for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examination next year.
The programme, according to the Minister, represents an earnest collaboration between the government, teachers, parents and students in order to facilitate the much needed improvement in the subject areas at CSEC. Upon taking up the Education Minister portfolio Manickchand said that she immediately recognized that there was a noticeably low pass rate in the two target subject areas, with Mathematics being more alarming. In light of this she has introduced an aggressive strategy which will see students being furnished with the requisite resources to help bolster their performance. The Ministry has committed to providing some 4,000 students, who will be a part of the pilot project, with CXC General Maths Book I and II, the Self-Study Guide for CXC, the collection of revision DVDs, the combined pass papers from 2008 to 2011, Model Solutions to difficult answers, Combined Solution for everything in addition to a geometry set and graph paper and a scientific calculator.
And in order to sensitise the relevant stakeholders about the ambitious initiative the Minister has been personally raising awareness at a number of target schools which have been identified to pilot the project. Among the schools participating in the project are Abram Zuil, Anna Regina and Aurora (Region Two); West Demerara, Zeeburg, Patentia, Leonora, Stewartville (Region Three); Annandale, Coven Garden, Bladen Hall, Hope (Region Four); East Ruimveldt, Christ Church, North Georgetown, Central, Brickdam, North Ruimveldt, Richard Ishmael (Georgetown), Bushlot, Mahaicony, Bygeval, Woodly Park Primary Tops (Region Five); J. C. Chandisingh, Tagore Memorial, , New Amsterdam Multi, Berbice High, Skeldon LinePath (Region Six); Three Miles (Region Seven), St. Ignatius (Region Nine), McKenzie High, Christianburg and Silver City (Region 10).
The efforts saw the high profile education team venturing to Region Two yesterday where Abram Zuil, Aurora and the Anna Regina Secondary Schools were visited. Previous meetings were held targeting schools in Berbice, Georgetown and West Coast and West Bank Demerara Schools. The team met and held extensive and frank discussions with the target teachers ahead of meeting with parents and students and several issues of concern that have been hindering the delivery of education were amplified and proposed remedies were highlighted as well. At the Abram Zuil Secondary School, for instance, infrastructural concerns were highlighted with teachers alluding to poor ventilation and congested classrooms and the need for a new state of the art school to be constructed in the area.
But while there are plans for a new school building for Abram Zuil Secondary by 2013, Minister Manickchand pointed out that there is need to prioritise addressing the many education needs across the country. “We have to look at whether we should give a new building now to Abram Zuil or build a school in the hinterland first…We have to see where the more urgent needs are before we make these crucial decisions,” Manickchand noted.
She nonetheless made reference to the improving past rate the school has been delivering over the years even as she assured that the Ministry has plans to help further bolster the school’s performance. She alluded to the ministry’s plan to ensure that there is universal secondary education where all public education facilities are conducive to learning. The Minister drew reference to the relatively new Aurora Secondary school, pointing out that there are times when manageable situations will persist until requested improvements can be provided. In the interim though the Minister noted that “no school will be left out…but at the same time we have to ensure that our development are equitable and we are working on making all facilities conducive to learning; it is already in our five-year development plan,” the Minister confidently pointed out.
With just about 20 weekends left before the sitting of the CSEC examination, Manickchand said that there is need for students to start utilizing the resources that the Ministry will provide. And according to the Minister, the Ministry has already started making efforts to procure the necessary items some of which will be made available by Monday. The initialization of the project next week will see teachers delivering Mathematics and English classes to students during next week and according to the Minister teachers will be financially compensated for their time since the school term officially came to an end yesterday. The sessions, according to ACEO, Doomattie Singh, will take on the form of normal school as students will be required to wear their uniforms. She asserted too that the programme is not merely intended for students who are failing but it is for all students including those who are deemed top performers.
The Minister’s visit to Region Two yesterday also saw her addressing a cluster meeting of teachers drawn from schools between Taymouth Manor and Good Hope, during which she outline her plans for the education system.
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