Qualified Head Teachers and Deputy Head Teachers could remain active classroom teachers if they so desire. This development comes even as the Guyana Teachers’ Union [GTU] agitates for the implementation of the Master Teachers Programme.
This programme, according to General Secretary of the Union, Ms. Coretta McDonald, revealed moves are apace to have the programme come to fruition through the Task Force established to negotiate salary hike for teachers.
“The Master Teacher Programme is one that allows teachers who are very good in the classroom to remain there by choice…Some teachers are very good in the classroom but when you make them administrators they can’t perform as well as they like as classroom teachers,” said McDonald.
Moreover, McDonald shared her view that the state of affairs is one that places teachers at a disadvantage. In this regard, she said, “We have now been able to gather some information to put in place the Master Teachers programme.”
The programme, according to McDonald, will cater specifically to teachers who are qualified to be Head Teachers and Deputy Head Teachers who have a preference to be in the classroom. “So they are going to be recognised for their qualifications and experience and paid for that even while they are in the classroom,” said the GTU General Secretary.
Once this programme is in place, McDonald said that “they don’t have to access promotion to see that reflection in their salaries. They can have that reflection in their salary without applying for headship or deputy.”
The Master Teachers’ Programme and that of the number of subjects students opt to write have been gaining attention at the level of the Task Force.
According to McDonald, the union has been giving close attention to the issue of examinations, particularly when it comes to students’ participation in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate [CSEC] examination.
McDonald said, “We are looking at this whole issue of all of these exams that we are having. We are trying to revise things in the education system and have it more career-oriented so that we would not have children writing 19 and 21 subjects that they can’t use at any one time.”
Proper advice for students, particularly as it relates to their subject options, should not be optional. In fact, it is imperative that the public education system have in place a cadre of personnel who are capable of offering this crucial advice.
This was in fact the proposal that was made some time ago by Former Chief Education Officer, Mr. Ed Caesar, whose service was retained to head a Commission of Inquiry [COI] into the education system.
As Chairman of the Commission, Caesar said, “Our members are suggesting that if there can’t be a welfare person in a school, [then] there must be a Welfare Officer responsible for a cluster of no more than five schools in every region.”
But according to Caesar, the Welfare Officer must also possess guidance and counselling skills since such persons would essentially have to be more than a mere Welfare Officer. “That person has to advise on careers with respect to these students…” said Caesar as he pointed out that “rather doing 32 subjects, students can be advised that they can do as little as seven and be able to pursue their career of choice.”
“People need to advise our young people but in order for people to do that, they need to know how to advise…” said Caesar as he added “the Welfare [within the public education system] is a cry for help.”
However, Caesar noted that the COI, for which a final report is to be released, was not in any way responsible for a decision by the Ministry of Education to announce cap on the number of subjects students should be eligible to write. He’d shared his conviction that care must be taken in any decision to limit the number of subjects that students are permitted to write at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate [CSEC] Examination.
“We did not say anything about that in our report. All we said basically is that we are to ensure that our children benefit from any examination that they have to write…but I am aware we have our views but we didn’t mention anything at all about that,” Caesar stressed.
However, the Education Ministry has imposed a limit on students writing the CSEC Examination. Based on a circular signed by CEO, Mr. Marcel Hutson, which was disseminated throughout the 11 education districts, “the maximum number of subjects a student can select in any stream in a List, A, B or Sixth Form Secondary School must not exceed 10; Mathematics and English must be included.”
“The maximum number of subjects a student can select in a List C, D or E Secondary School must not exceed six; Mathematics and English must be included.”
The circular further pointed out that of a maximum of 10 and six subjects; there is also a pre-requisite to the number of subjects a student can write at CSEC. This will depend on the student’s performance at the National Grade Nine Assessment and/or the Annual Examination administered at the end of Grade 10.
But Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, explained that students will be allowed to write as many additional subjects as they like based on the recommendation coming from individual schools.
“If your school recommends that you do so many subjects, then so be it…They make their recommendations based on performance so based on your performance, they can even recommend you to do 30 something [subjects] or based on your performance, they could recommend that you do five…that has always been the case and will remain the case,” said Minister Henry even as she asserted that the school system is always required to work with rules and regulation.
In addition, the Minister amplified that the focus of her Ministry is more on the quality of performance and not on the quantity of subjects written. “The number of subjects, this can get you some attention, [but] it is not our primary focus, our focus is to ensure that students in the secondary schools are able to matriculate and that is to pass Mathematics and English,” asserted Minister Henry.
In recognition of deficiencies and lapses in the system, the Minister added, “We have to ensure we take responsibility and implement systems that can better allow our students to matriculate.”
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