Jun 10, 2019 News
All teachers must be trained by 2040, and all public training institutions for teachers must be accredited internationally. Those are the goals of the Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040. The public education system has been failing to produce grades that prepare students to compete on the international stage.
In 2018, the percentages of passes at the end of secondary school were 67 percent and 43 percent for English A and Mathematics, respectively. At the primary level, those were 60 percent and 38 percent, respectively. These results are poor, but could be considered decent when compared to previous years. This needs urgent attention.
Guyana needs trained teachers at every level in order to improve the quality of public education. According to GSDS, 42 percent of teachers in the public system were untrained. By 2017, that statistic had been reduced to 20 percent. Though it is an improvement, it still requires attention, the strategy states.
It is not uncommon for untrained teachers to be hired at schools in the countryside, as well as in riverain and hinterland communities. Some are hired to teach as soon as they leave school. This is often due to a lack of trained personnel in the area. Vision 2040’s development agenda purports itself to prioritise investments in education, particularly at the secondary level, consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4.
The goal is to have 100 percent trained teachers by 2040. It predicts that this will not just improve student performance, but that it will provide better long term employment opportunities for educators, and a stronger labour market.
Vision 2040 notes, “Teaching is a time-honoured profession that must be returned to its prominence in Guyanese society.”
Mediocrity must be discredited, and excellence rewarded. It is expected that teachers at all levels of the service have written job descriptions with assigned outcomes and performance measures. And teachers must, as in advanced countries, be drawn from the highest ranks of university/college graduates; “must demonstrate proficiency and mastery of subjects, and excellence in teaching skills and methods.” The strategy also notes the lack of male teachers in the education system and the effect it has on the performance of boys in school.
It states, “88% of the total teaching pool comprises women, which may contribute to the challenge of keeping boys in secondary schools.”
More male teachers are to be incentivized to participate in the teaching profession, to just advance students’ academics but to be counselors and sports coaches.
“Participating on sports teams is an incentive to keeping boys in school.”
“Particularly,” it notes, “the under-achievers must be tied to good and/or consistent academic performance.”
Even then, there’s much more to be done. Training institutions have to be well accredited, not just to local, but regional and global standards. The Education Ministry currently defines standards, and it is hoped that these are gradually oriented towards international ones in the long term.
The Cyril Potter College of Education is the primary teacher training college. Whether it is sufficient to meet the system’s needs is another story. So others must be accredited.
Further, the teaching pool will have to be widened to attract top performers in the CARICOM Single Market Economy. The onus isn’t just on teachers, however. Vision 2040 intends to invest in attractive and competitive teacher compensation packages, which are to have parity with performance benchmarks and continual professional development.
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