A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is calling for a national Commission of Inquiry (COI) to ascertain why the overall results at the primary, secondary and tertiary public education levels continue to be unsatisfactory.
APNU, the largest faction of the Opposition in the National Assembly, at a press conference yesterday, said that it is alarmed that the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) has been obliged to dismiss an average of two to three teachers every week for offences within the public education system.
According to APNU’s Leader, David Granger, offences ranging from teaching under the influence of alcohol, carnal knowledge of students, flogging of children without authority, inefficiency and poor supervision and misappropriation of school funds, are but a few of the worrying problems.
Granger noted that the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) has raised concerns of the dangerously worrying trend of school violence.
“There has been the appearance of the so-called ‘Gaza’ and ‘Gully’ gangs which target teachers they dislike. The number of violent incidents and the severity of those incidents immediately require a comprehensive investigation.”
Concerns were also raised by APNU as to the plan by the TSC to recruit overseas Mathematics and Science teachers for the public education system.
According to the Opposition Leader, it is a fact that not enough is done to amend the problems of educating and employing Mathematics and Science teachers locally.
The coalition also expressed concern with what they called “educational apartheid”- the disparity between performances of private schools as against public schools, with the former performing seemingly better.
Issues were also raised about the level of education in the hinterland.
“It is evident also that, of the 16, 811 candidates who sat the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) this year, only 173 students who comprised the top one per cent were placed in the best secondary school. Over 80 of the 173 students were from private schools around the country. No student from the hinterland, namely the Barima-Waini, Cuyuni-Mazaruni, Potaro- Siparuni and Rupununi regions or from the Mahaica-Berbice Region, qualified among the top one per cent.”
According to APNU, an alarming number of candidates who sat the examination performed so badly that there could be a conclusion that they were probably “functionally illiterate”. Mathematics in particular is a problem for concern.
“The CSEC pass rate for this subject declined from 34.5 per cent in 2010, to 30.4 per cent in 2011; to 29.69 per cent in 2012; and to 28.92 per cent this year, 2013; the trend is clear,” Granger warned.
He said another contributing factor to this “education apartheid” is the alarming dropout rate that prevails in public schools, particularly in the hinterland, where completing secondary school often takes students far from home and family.
“Children who fail to attend school regularly or who drop out of school completely are most likely to be unemployed face a life of poverty or become involved in crime which can lead to imprisonment.”
Granger said that there is enough evidence to warrant a formal investigation into the entire public education system.
“Silence will not solve the problems. The Ministry of Education is well aware that discipline and performance in the country’s public schools have been unsatisfactory over the last decade.”
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