…as efforts are made to encourage literacy
“A literate population is going to drive speedier development,” was the declaration of Minister
of Education, Priya Manickchand, as she reflected on the work of her Ministry during the past year at her end of year press conference on Friday last.
In order to foster literacy, Manickchand said that much needed attention was directed to putting measures in place to ensure that children are firmly on a course to become literate by Grade Four. But in order to implement the tactics to realise this ambitious goal, Manickchand disclosed that strategic action was imperative.
For instance, she disclosed that because of the formerly prohibitive prices of books used within the school system, coupled with the inability of the system to realise the desired results, it was required of the Ministry to amend and refine the materials utilised to teach.
Moreover, a decision was made by the Ministry to produce over the course of the year two new series – The Roraima Series for Nursery age children and the Atlantic Reader for Primary age children.
“We have already begun using the Roraima Series and we will begin using the Atlantic Series in the New Year…” said the Minister as she boasted of the capabilities of local experts who were tasked with writing the Series, both of which are accompanied by workbooks.
And Minister Manickchand is convinced that the reading materials are of such high quality that they will be of international benefit, although they were written with the Guyanese/Caribbean child in mind.
And they were so crafted, the Minister observed, since the writers benefited from the guidance of international literacy standards and benchmarks that could effectively trace the learning process of children.
“We would know, that once a child finishes, successfully, a particular chapter, exactly which benchmark and standard they would have met in the effort to making our children literate by Grade Four,” said the Minister, as she also spoke of measures in place to strengthen their literacy skills even after the Grade Four level.
And as efforts were being directed to improve literacy, the Minister noted that the Ministry was also cognisant of the need to ensure that both teachers and students are comfortable in the schooling environment.
Moves to address this were evident by the procurement and distribution of text books within the school system and the provision of adequate furniture.
Moreover, the Minister at her press conference said that she was only too pleased to report that textbooks for core subject areas of Mathematics, English, Social Studies and Science were procured for all children attending public primary schools. As such, she noted that it is expected that each child should be in possession of a personal copy of the said texts.
Additionally, relevant Mathematics and English textbooks were procured for each student from Grade Seven to 11, and by now each student should have been in possession of his/her own copy, the Minister said. She went on to point out too that “this is the first time in our country that we have procured these core texts for each and every child across the country as personal copies.”
Meanwhile, in the quest to ensure that furniture is not an issue, Manickchand said that Government, through the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, or through collaborations between the two, has been strategically and consciously procuring furniture requested by schools for each child so that they are comfortably accommodated.
Manickchand had, in August of this year, informed that deliberate efforts were being fostered by the Ministry to not only improve the delivery of education, but to ensure that children are in a comfortable learning atmosphere. For this reason, she said that the Ministry had strategic measures in place to ensure that each public school is outfitted with adequate furniture.
“Every single school, (whether) nursery, primary or secondary, is supposed to have enough furniture for all of our children to sit comfortably,” Minister Manickchand said.
The Ministry has therefore been on a mission to address known shortcomings in this regard, by finding out directly from individual schools of their needs, informed the Education Minister.
With this information in hand, she said that efforts were made to specifically procure the needed furniture and transport same to the various schools across the country.
But according to the Minister, “if schools were not vigilant and say I need 10 (furniture) when they really needed 12 or 15 then they may be short, but I would not like to hear that.”
However, she noted that should a school not be in receipt of the quantity of furniture it requires, the administration of that school will be answerable.
“We will ask why is your school short?. Because this Government made sure that enough money and a lot of effort went into planning how every school is going to get furniture for their children by the beginning of the term, and we should be in that place right now,” the Minister asserted.
She however, noted that while the focus this year was on ensuring that children are comfortable in their schooling environment, efforts will be made by Government to specifically cater to the teachers in the budget next year.
“So we are doing it in phases…next year we will have enough furniture for all the teachers of this country, whether it be chairs and desks, lockers, or the other kinds of things that teachers need…We are saying that next year we want all of our teachers to be comfortable in the same way that all our children should be comfortable now.”
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