The time has come for the Ministry of Education to pursue an education agenda that requires new objectives to meet the demands of the 21st century. The education curriculum must be revised in light of the renewed vision for Guyana to achieve sustainable human and social development by 2020.
A new education curriculum must seriously take into consideration the socio-economic, environmental, and the dimensions of human development in the country.
Education must be an empowering tool in order to enable children and adults to be productive, to engage in life-long learning, to solve problems and to be creative and successful. It should also encourage citizens to live together with nature in peace and harmony.
In order to meet these objectives, educators and teachers must reorient their thinking. A humanistic approach to education should be incorporated in the school curriculum in order for children to embrace the ethical principles of an integrated approach for growth and development. This type of learning process is needed for the acquisition of relevant knowledge to help develop the country, improve competence and for service to the country and to humanity.
A humanistic approach will take the debate on education beyond the narrow and outmoded realms of the current curriculum that is based on examinations. However, it must emphasize as a central concern the need for inclusion, one that not only promotes equality of opportunity, but also fairness and equal access to the best schools in the country.
Education must not only be about the acquisition of skills, knowledge and competencies, but also about self-respect and the teaching of the values of society.
It should be an imperative for social harmony in our diverse culture. Given the social quagmire that exists in society, educators must recognize that the only way out of this dilemma is to ensure that education is based on sound ethical values that embrace the principles that transcend the boundaries of religion, ethnicity, status and race.
An integrated approach to education is needed to help children understand the country’s social, economic, cultural and civic responsibilities as well as sustainable development and environmental concerns. This implies that the education curriculum must be reorganized to train students in the field of agriculture and in the techniques and importance of farming. Education is not only to produce lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants, and bankers.
However, this would require a holistic approach to education and learning that goes beyond the traditional notions of cognition and examinations.
It will also require educators to shift their focus from measurement of learning to more holistic assessment frameworks above and beyond the traditional domains of academia. However, this will not happen if emphasis continues to be placed solely on examinations which are designed for the sole purpose of exclusion and the perpetuation of a class differential.
Education should not be equated with the passing of cognitive-based exams, but rather from a much broader perspective; one that recognizes the holistic nature of human development in society.
A humanistic approach to education seems to be the only way in which schools can prepare youths to be good, decent human beings and law-abiding citizens. When children are educated and are encouraged to realize their maximum human potential, they will add value to society and to economicand human development of the country.
Social disharmony could be minimized since they will feel a greater sense of empowerment through an enhanced capacity to contribute to governance and society.
In this way there is no room for the education system to certify persons as failures. The late Malcolm X said: Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
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