The 09/02/17 editorial in the Kaieteur News headed “New Learning Philosophy Needed” claimed that “we inherited an education system from Britain that is geared towards producing students to pass examinations but who are unable to demonstrate having learnt a skill or knowledge that can relate to their daily existence”. This kind of comment is not new; I have seen it in our media many times before and every time I see it I ask myself how come the schools I attended and taught at during the heyday of the British rule over ‘British Guiana’ were apparently not subjected to such seemingly inadequate, as reported: “education system from Britain”?
I attended the Blairmont Primary School in the 1940’s and I know for a fact that besides the regular ‘academic subjects’ the boys were required to do Gardening, Woodworking and Book-binding while the girls were required to do Sewing, Knitting, Cooking, Baking and housekeeping in addition to mandatory participation in sports and other physical activities. I still recall the joy and inspiration I got from the first BIG FAT TOMATO I reaped from my ‘school garden’ which was located next to the Estate’s Main Office close to the school. It left such a strong impression on me that ever since, my own kitchen garden has been an integral part of the locations wherever I lived in or out of Guyana, providing the surrounds were compatible for such activities.
I attended and subsequently taught at the Berbice Educational Institute in New Amsterdam where again, while the main focus was the academics in pursuit of passing the secondary school examinations (Cambridge School Certificate and London General College Examination (GCE), there was no deficiency or hindrance to the pursuit and development of personality, sports and life skills. I know of the many agriculturalists, engineers, lawyers, doctors, educators, managers and similar professionals who originally attended the schools, both primary and secondary, which I attended and taught at during the British regime over Guyana, so what’s the big deal about ‘the education system we inherited from the British’? Or, is this another ‘alibi’ for the perceived ‘shortcomings’ of our current educators?
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