Jul 04, 2017 News
“We can’t have schools not performing for decades and nothing is done about that.” This was the firm declaration of Chief Education Officer [CEO], Mr. Marcel Hutson, at a forum during the past week to announce the results of
the 2017 National Grade Six Assessment [NGSA].
In order to ensure that all schools are steadily producing improved performances, Hutson said that “accountability of performances at the level of the schools and classrooms will be brought sharply into focus.”
He insisted that “schools have to perform…so there is an accountability issue.”
But achieving this goal, according to the CEO, cannot be done by an individual; rather a team effort is imperative. “It’s all about a team. One man can’t do it! One man said if we are going to cause children to stumble for the projection of ourselves, our own self interest, it is better to put a millstone around your neck and be thrown overboard,” said Hutson.
“The crux of the matter is we don’t have time for contention, for confusion and for strife because we are dealing with the lives of children; we are dealing with fulfilling the potentials of our children.”
For this reason, Hutson noted that the approach that must be adopted is that of “servant leadership”. “We must practise servant leadership as teachers, as officers, as stakeholders generally. We must serve,” stressed the Chief Officer of the Education Ministry.
This year when the results were announced, there were some drastic improvements across subject areas particularly in Mathematics. The subject area of English this year, for the first time in many years, recorded a more than 50 percent pass rate.
The improvement was attributed to deliberate intervention measures that were focused on addressing the weaknesses in the area of Maths. However, the measures that have been utilised not only helped to improve the performances in Maths which moved from a 14 percent pass rate to 46 percent but across the other subject areas –English, Science and Social Studies – that pupils are assessed in at the NGSA.
According to Hutson, the Ministry will seek to retain the approaches that have worked and others will be reviewed. Among those that are up for review is the Interactive Radio Instruction Programme which has over the years been used to teach Mathematics at the primary level. There have been reports that this programme has not served well to help improve the performances of pupils. Hutson informed that the IRI programme will be reviewed with a view of realising greater impact at the lower grades.
He said, “We will start mock exams at the end of Grade Five to get our children into this mode [of improved performance].”
“We will hold high expectations of our pupils. If you feel our children can’t perform they will not perform but if you believe that there is something in them that will make them do well you will push and cause them to do well,” the CEO underscored.
The Ministry also has a strategic tactic to deal with schools that are faced with a teacher shortage problem. Based on the advice of Minister Nicolette Henry, Hutson said that the Ministry is gearing to adopt a pre-packaged model lesson approach that will be delivered in video format to schools faced with the teacher shortage problem. Mainly schools in the hinterland regions have had this challenge, Hutson informed.
Implementing these measures, he explained, are aimed at sustaining improved performances country-wide.
“Our watch words will be sustainability and continued improvement because there are times when we can become cocky and believe that we are doing well and lose focus,” said the CEO. “I believe by the grace of God we will help the children of this nation to enjoy a better life and by extension a prosperous Guyana.
“That is where we want to go so we will continue work,” said Hutson. He recognised the support the public education sector was able to gain through former Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, and current Minister, Ms. Nicolette Henry, who has had hands-on approach to helping to correct the shortcomings in the system.
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