By Leon Suseran
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds declared Education Month 2014 in Berbice opened last Friday. The launching ceremony was held on the lawns of State House in New Amsterdam. Apart from the speeches, cultural items from various schools and the Teachers’ Choir punctuated the programme, which was chaired by Education Officer (Secondary), Mr. Claude Johnson.
Region Six Educational Officer, Ms. Volika Jaikishun brought greetings from the Education Department as well.
Delivering the feature address Prime Minister Hinds underscored the importance of education in Guyana, since according to him it leads a nation to the path of development.
The Government, he expressed, is quite pleased with the “progress of education over the last two decades.”
He reflected that in earlier times, education was very much restricted and exclusive. “Today, we have confirmed primary schooling available for every young person…and we are working and very soon will be at the point where all of our students have an opportunity for secondary education…this has been a focus particularly of this government.”
The Prime Minister acknowledged that some policies of the government on education have not been understood, “but we have been focusing on policies to build more broadly…focusing on extending the opportunities for secondary education into the hinterland and other far flung villages, where there were none before, as well as expanding post-secondary and technical education opportunities.”
Guyana, he said, is a young country that has made “great gains”, “but we still have a far, far way to go…our challenge is what can we do with what we have today and how well are we doing with what we have today…”
Hinds said that the issue is not just to compare what Guyana has with other countries, “but to think of how well we are doing with what we have.”
He commended the Ministry of Education for doing quite well with the resources they have. “We always want to do better, and in particular, in the areas of discipline, application— those are areas we need to keep our eyes on.”
“We have been progressing in education from stage to stage…and our first emphasis was on restoring buildings and then we moved on with emphasis on providing textbooks, improving teaching; and this is the way we will go…progressing from stage to stage.”
He commended the performances at the recent CSEC Exams.
He affirmed his belief that if everyone works together, a continued upward growth can be seen.
Region Six Chairman, Mr. David Armogan described education as the key to development. “If you look at countries that are developing at a fast pace, you will see that education is the prime mover in those countries, hence the government’s investment in education, taking the largest slice in the national budget.”
Armogan noted the investment in teacher training, and mentioned that centres of training have been set up in all the Regions to ensure access to more potential teachers.
The official said that an improvement in results in Berbice has been seen in the NGSA and CSEC performances, with nine students making the national chart, “and a girl from this Region is second in the country in the CSEC Exams.”
However, the Chairman regretted the amount of, “low- performing schools in our Region which we have to pay attention to,” where 50 per cent of the students in the Region did not manage to get five subjects in Grades 1 to 3, “and that is a bit disappointing because at the end of the day, you have to cater for every single child in the school system.”
The government will not rest comfortably until that milestone is reached, he said.
Out of 17 secondary schools in the Region, “only 11 of them are doing well; seven of them are below par…below 45 per cent and so we have to bring those schools up.”
Among the activities planned for the month’s celebrations in Berbice are Give-a-Book Day, where five tents will be set up across the Region in Skeldon, Tain, Canje Turn, New Amsterdam and Tacama Turn in Stanleytown; a march against truancy; distribution of certificates to students who made 90 per cent attendance in schools; truancy campaigns; exhibition of teaching aides; jump-rope extravaganza; Mathematics Olympian Competition and Learning materials display.
Today, there will be reading at 11:00 hrs in all schools, for World Literacy Day.
According to the Region’s Education Officer, all students will stop whatever they are doing at 11:00 hours and read a book in school.
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