“Guyana today, is a country of bright prospects but also one of colossal complexity. A field of unprecedented opportunities lies before you. The opportunity for engineers to build bridges and roads to open our vast hinterland and to develop schemes to exploit our hydro-electrical potential; the opportunity for geologists to develop our bauxite, diamond, gold, manganese an d quarrying resources; the opportunity for biologists, botanists, zoologists and agriculturists to expand food production; the opportunities to improve communication and human learning; the opportunity for manufacturers, shippers, builders to drive our economy forward at a faster rate…
These opportunities can be achieved only by people with a first -class education. They can be achieved only by the creation of an ‘education nation’ that brings all our people together in a knowledge society. They can be achieved only by combining our energies, integrating our communities and working together for the common good, rather than pulling apart…. An education nation ought to be one in which intelligence prevails over ignorance, cooperation over confrontation and national integration over communal disintegration” – President David Granger
Education remains a key part of President David Granger’s plan to keep Guyana moving forward. In just four short years, the APNU+AFC government has spent over $170 billion on education with a record $52.2 billion committed in the 2019 budget. The Coalition believes that education is central to a better quality of life for all citizens, especially our youth, giving them skills to pursue meaningful careers and achieve the good life.
It is no secret that the APNU+AFC administration inherited a public education system that was in crisis. In 2015, over half of our students were failing the National Grade Six Assessment. However, targeted interventions, especially in numeracy and literacy, were made and this resulted in improved performance in the National Grade Six Assessment. The percentage passes in English moved from 42 percent in 2016 to 60 percent in 2018. Mathematics moved from 14 percent in 2016 to 38 percent in 2018; and Science from 28 percent to 46 percent.
APNU+AFC will continue to increase our investment in education, increase school enrolment and improve exam results. In the past four years, the government has increased the number of teachers. Over 1,800 new teachers have been trained to ensure that students get the one-on-one attention that they need. Three thousand five hundred (3,500) primary school teachers have been equipped with the necessary skills for quality delivery of the curriculum.
Under the theme ‘Every child in school’, the government has prioritised access to educational access, attendance and achievement. The Public Education Transport Service (PETS) (known popularly as the 5 B’s Initiative) was born out of a recognition that many parents found it costly to send their children to school. This service has distributed 1,400 bicycles, 29 buses and 10 boats. PETS is saving parents money and, more important, it is getting our children to school without expending any money from the government coffers.
In order to prepare our children for the jobs of the future and to be more fully prepared to be active participants in the emerging petroleum sector, greater focus has been placed on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. The government is also expanding technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programmes so that our youth can receive training in carpentry, robotics, welding, auto mechanics and other life skills.
The APNU+AFC government has modernised our curriculum to include technical skills that focus on manufacturing, business, and the energy sector. The Coalition, cognisant that a better qualified and skilled workforce means that Guyana can create more jobs and attract more foreign investment, has increased access to university and higher education.
Strengthened TVET, and reintroduced the Guyana Youth Corps to play a vital role in preparing students for the labour market. The Youth Corps will train young Guyanese in relevant skills to pursue a specific profession, whether that be in construction (e.g. plumbing, carpentry, masonry etc.), creative industries (graphic/product/industrial design), or the new growing IT sector.
APNU+AFC is taking steps to improve the performance of all learners. Modern facilities including cafeterias and sanitary facilities have been built to make sure students and teachers alike have a comfortable environment to study and work. Better drama, music and sports facilities are being established, to help foster a positive learning environment for our young people; helping them to develop non-academic skills that are vital for healthy and fulfilled lives. The government is also providing education support grants for non-academic subject areas in order to help our young athletes, musicians and artists to advance their talents.
Speaking to a massive crowd of more than five thousand Guyanese assembled at Union Village East Berbice- Corentyne Region, on August 1, 2019; President David Granger said; “We have a plan which will ensure that the forthcoming decade will be a “decade of development” for all Guyanese that will place emphasis on education:
Every citizen has a right to education. This is a basic entitlement of all children. Free education is an entitlement mandated by our Constitution [Article 27], which states: “Every citizen has the right to free education from nursery to university ….” The President went on to say that our expected petroleum revenues will help us to restore free education in accordance with the injunction of our Constitution at the primary, secondary and university levels.
The APNU+AFC government is creating a 21st century nation. Our education policy aims at providing Guyanese with the knowledge, skills and values to become productive citizens in the economy of the future. We will build an education nation. We will use or revenues from the petroleum sector to bring our people together in a knowledge society. We will use our resources to repel the dark forces of poverty, hatred and oppression that threaten to pull us apart. Ours will be an education nation, where intelligence prevails over ignorance, cooperation over confrontation, and national integration over communal disintegration.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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