There will be no letting-up of deliberate efforts aimed at improving the performance within the public education system. At least this is according to Minister of Education, Ms. Nicolette Henry, as she responded to questions from parliamentary opposition member, Africo Selman, on Wednesday in the National Assembly.
Selman in posing a number of questions, asked of the Minister how the sum of $48.6 million was expended as part of an emergency intervention initiative for primary level public schools. The sum was approved by the APNU-AFC government following daunting performances at the National Grade Six Assessment [NGSA] in 2015.
According to Minister Henry, the sum was expended in five strategic areas, including training of teachers in content and methodology; recruitment of coordinators and monitors; training of officers and school administrators to supervise the teaching of Mathematics; regional diagnostic assessment and community-based participation.
The Minister informed that a total of 548 teachers at the grades five and six levels, across all education districts, were trained in this regard, which attracted the sum of $28 million, while the recruitment of 10 Maths coordinators and 41 monitors saw an investment of $7 million.
Further, the Minister said that the sum of $6.8 million catered to the training of officers and school administrators to supervise the teaching of mathematics, and a total of 452 officers, coordinators and head teachers in Regions One, Three, Eight, Nine and 10 were trained.
The diagnostic assessment, which was done in all regions, amounted to $2.9 million.
“In that instance we did a numeracy diagnostic instrument which was designed for pupils entering Grade Six,” Minister Henry informed.
As part of the venture, too, a sum of $3.4 million was spent on community-based participation, which according to Minister Henry, entailed, “the engagement of parents and community personnel in the respective regions.”
The continuance of the programme in 2017 saw an additional sum of $250 million being spent. Of that sum, $62 million was spent on textbooks specifically for pupils of Grade Six classes. Also a total of $153 million was spent on training for teachers, administrators, coordinators and monitors and that, Minister Henry said, “was done throughout the country for the entire of 2017, and we spent $35 million which we used primarily for placing of advertisements…”
The funds also catered to, among other things, the conducting of two NGSA mock examinations which were held prior to the sitting of the NGSA that year.
But the work is still on ongoing, the Minister assured the House on Wednesday.
“There are several things that are still being done. These include capacity building and training for key personnel including teachers, head teachers and education officers,” said the Education Minister.
She divulged too that “We are also working on strengthening, monitoring and supervision of schools, and also in terms of programme development, across the primary level programmes, there are targeted interventions and remedial programmes for all of the regions and Georgetown also.”
The Ministry, according to the Minister, has also been working to maintain parental and community arrangements to help bolster its ongoing efforts.
The sustained efforts, she said, have been thorough enough to even realise improved performance in English Language at the 2018 sitting of the NGSA.
“It turned out to be the best year in terms of performance… we recorded 60 percent passes in English,” said Minister Henry. She however acknowledged that “I recognise that when you have 40 percent not passing, it is still a concern of course [but] it speaks to where we have come from and where we are going, and we will continue to work to ensure that we have improved examination results throughout the education system.”
As she recognised improvement in the system, the Minister noted that the conducting of tests is in fact a means of measuring the work and the performance of the sector which has shown improvement since the implementation of the emergency intervention.
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