A deliberate tactic is being embraced by the Ministry of Education to sustainably address poor performances in Mathematics and English. This is according to information contained in an action plan crafted by the Ministry.
It is expected that the action plan which incorporates several measures aimed at enhancing the education sector, will be implemented with funding from the Ministry’s allocation in the 2018 National budget slated to be presented on Monday.
As part of the efforts to put in place measures that will tackle the Mathematics and English shortcomings, the Ministry will be looking to implement processes at the Early Childhood Education [ECE] level.
It has been deduced by education officials that the performances in Mathematics and English could be considerably improved if emergent literacy and numeracy skills are well established at that foundation stage.
ECE primarily represents nursery education, but also includes the first two grades of Primary, since these are recognized as the foundation of the formal education process.
According to information out of the Ministry, ECE is an important focus of the education sector since it has been deduced that at this level, the major issues and concerns relate to the learning environment, access, the curriculum, the level of training of teachers and the nature of the transition from this level to the advanced primary level.
The objective of the Ministry’s ECE programme is to have major outcomes – that is, the improvement in the performance of all students in the various subject areas, and to reduce the disparity in performance between hinterland and coastal students. Essentially, the ECE programme is designed to improve emergent literacy and numeracy outcomes for children at the nursery level and early primary grades.
The Ministry will be looking to incorporate components used in the successful Guyana Early Childhood Education Improvement Project, which saw significant improvement in the children’s learning after one year. The use of the project saw the percentage of students achieving proficiency on the emergent numeracy and literacy test improved by 25 percentage points in both areas, and the students in the hinterland achieved parity with the coastal students in numeracy.
Moreover, in the coming year, the Ministry will seek to facilitate capacity building for Nursery and Grade One teachers in the teaching of literacy and numeracy. This will be done through training Master trainers, who in turn, will be expected to train teachers and then monitor their classes to see whether they are using the recommended methodologies.
Also moves will be made towards realizing improved Supply of Teaching /Learning Materials, in particular the purchase of ECE kits for coastal nursery and Grade One teachers. Hinterland and deep riverine communities will also stand to benefit from the proposed measures, the Ministry has theorized in its action plan.
Among the measures that the Ministry is gearing to implement is to ensure that all teachers have an ECE kit and an accompanying manual on how to utilize the kit. The Ministry will also be providing specific literacy kits at the nursery and primary levels.
The Ministry will also be seeking to have the support of parent/guardian education to further support the development of emergent literacy and numeracy among nursery and Grade One children. This, the Ministry has outlined, can be reinforced once the importance of the parent/guardian role in the development of the child is fully embraced. In the hinterland, this has been executed through parent circles, with one percent trained as a facilitator. This has taken the form of parents/guardians being given tips on how they can stimulate their children, and essentially how to assist them in learning basic things like colours, shapes, counting, and letters in a fun way.
Currently, there are 344 discrete nursery schools and 128 nursery classes in primary schools across the country. Most nursery schools and classes, this publication understands, are now in purpose-built institutions, and most of these buildings are in fair physical condition.
Based on the 2012 census figures, nearly 90 percent of the relevant age cohort is in nursery schools. In the 2013/2014 academic year, 68 percent of the teachers at this level were trained.
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