Jul 07, 2016 News
— but public schools performances in the face of challenges laudable
While the 2016 National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) results have revealed that the country’s private schools have yet another year dominated the top performing spots, President of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), Mr. Mark Lyte, has observed that public schools have also been doing well.
This is in light of the fact, he noted, that many public schools operate in environments that are sometimes not even conducive for the teaching- learning process. These teachers in the public school system, Lyte added, operate at a disadvantage when compared to their private school counterparts.
Chief among the challenges faced by public school teachers, Lyte asserted, is that they have to deal with all children in order to fulfil the mandate of universal primary education. Some private schools on the other hand, the GTU President added, have the privilege of screening children before they accept them.
“When compared to the private schools which are producing top students year after year, the public schools are severely affected since most private school screen students for acceptance…public schools work with each child that shows up,” asserted Lyte.
It could therefore be easily deduced, Lyte noted, that private schools are likely to yield better results than public schools based on their process of acceptance alone. But this is not the only factor that could speak to the disparity between the performances at the public and private schools.
According to Lyte, public school teachers are faced with a gamut of mitigating factors in the public school system. He said that these factors include large class sizes, limited teaching resources, unsatisfactory working environment, education management deficiencies, unprofessional conduct of education managers, poor remuneration, burdensome record keeping procedures, poor classrooms, which are sometimes void of ventilation and proper lights, among others.
Lyte is of the firm belief, too, that teachers in the public schools are really not motivated enough due to the lack of a proper education management system. But given the laudable performances of pupils in the public system, Lyte said they should be commended.
“I believe that our public school teachers must be congratulated for their sterling performance in 2016,” said Lyte as he pointed out that “we have seen this year that non traditional performing schools have suddenly made a mark for themselves.
“So the Guyana Teachers’ Union congratulates all educators in the public system for their excellent performance… for their excellent performance in guiding the grade six pupils successfully in 2016.”
NOT A RIVALRY
Since last year Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, made it clear that his Ministry was not worried about the fact that “the private schools appear to outstrip the public schools”. This notion was also embraced by his predecessor, Priya Manickchand.
Minister Roopnaraine had told reporters that the private school versus public school issue have led to an attempt to create a dichotomy or even a sense of rivalry. In fact he had sought to explain that the observed difference in performances could be attributed to a range of selective practices employed by the private schools.
“Our position at the Ministry is that these are all our children and we do not need to get into a debate about the public/private schools, especially given the fact that the reverse is evident at the secondary level in relations to Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) where the numbers are different.”
The Minister, however, expressed his view that there is more that can be done to improve the performances of pupils in the public school system.
Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam, has in the past asserted that the general position of the Ministry over the years has been to support the education of all children, both of public and private schools.
“We are not troubled by what emerges now with regards to the Grade Six Assessment results, largely because it is almost to be expected,” Sam had proclaimed in 2014.
He further vocalised his conviction that “private schools have the wherewithal to do things that our public schools don’t…At the end of the day I think that all of the nation’s children get an opportunity for a sound education, so it is not a public/private kind of conflictual issue for us.”
According to Sam, the desire of the Ministry has long been to see schools across the board improve with a view to ensuring that all children can benefit.
Expressing her conviction on the matter, Manickchand as Minister in 2014 recognised the private school screening tactic was indeed a measure to help improve the performances realised.
She had argued then that “there are a couple of things we have to look at as a nation” including the screening principle embraced by some private schools, whereby a child may be denied acceptance based on efforts to measure his/her academic ability.
The public school on the other hand, accepts every child with varying abilities, Manickchand noted. “Some private schools if you don’t perform over the years, they ask you to leave; we don’t do that…we persevere with every single child in the public school system.”
Manickchand had revealed that the administrations of private schools even have the free-will to terminate their staffers if they are believed to be ineffective, in terms of helping to realise laudable results, something that is unlikely in the public schools system.
Further, she had observed that the children who are doing well “are often the children whose parents are with them ‘foot to foot’.” She pointed out that from all indications, private schools have a better partnership with parents in the quest to ensuring their children perform well.
“We have to look at how we can make sure that our public schools do better.”
There are schools in the public system that are also doing well too. “I want to see all schools do better, including the private schools; I want see every school get 100 per cent,” she had noted.
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