Kaieteur News – The President should have a serious chat with his Minister of Education. It is unacceptable for students to be housed under tents, when there are far better alternatives available.
It matters not whether the school, its Parent Teachers Association and/or the students recommended and/or agreed to a tent solution. The APNU+AFC is correct in asserting that having students accommodated in such circumstances constitutes a violation of their rights. Such conditions are inhumane and impair their right to secure an education as provided for in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Guyana is not Mongolia where, in order to cater for the nomadic communities, tents are erected as classrooms, and the location of schools change every 45 days.
The problem of overcrowding is an administrative problem. The Ministry of Education should have had records of the level of accommodation at each school, and thus when making school placements should have catered for the capacity of each school. The responsibility for this problem rests at the feet of the education authorities.
Each year, the Ministry of Education spends billions of dollars in constructing schools. Private schools are also being established along the coast and this is absorbing a significant number of students. How then it is that there is this problem where some schools do not have a full intake and others are overcrowded?
This is an administrative problem which should be fixed. It is not going to be fixed by erecting tents and inconveniencing students. Fix the school placement system and the problem will be solved. There should be by now more places in schools than students. If this is not happening, especially in light of the spread of private schools, then this is another area in which the education system is failing our students.
The overcrowding problem may be associated with parents wanting select schools for their children. There used to be a time when many parents would be desperate for their children to attend Stella Maris Primary School or St. Margaret’s Primary School. It is surprising how many parents changed their addresses so as to allow their children to fall within the catchment for eligibility to these favoured schools.
A few months ago, the St. George’s School in the heart of Georgetown was razed by fire. The parents were called in and their students reassigned to other schools. One parent complained that she was from Cummings Lodge and now will be inconvenienced in having to relocate her child to another school. But prior to the fire, her child was attending a school which was miles away from where she lived.
The Ministry’s attempt to fix the problem is not by re-organising the school placement system. Its response is to expand schools. The Ministry says that this is to cater for the increase in the number of students writing examinations. But are the numbers increasing enough to justify the expansion policy?
This data does not support this policy. The nursery school population is projected to remain about the same by 2025. And in terms of enrollment, there is only likely to be about 1,000 more nursery school children in 2025 than there are today. Primary enrollment is projected to increase by five percent but accommodation has to be made for the fact that an increase in private primary school enrollment may ensure about the same level of enrollment in public schools in 2025 as it is today. And secondary school enrollment is actually projected to decline by 2025.
Yet, Queen’s College is throwing in an extra wing to cater for a large student intake. Does this solve the problem or is Queen’s College being assigned too many students? There are cut off marks for placement at that school. Why not raise the qualification criteria for entry into that school by a few marks and thereby reduce the actual intake?
It can hardly therefore be that the problem with overcrowding of schools is a fast increasing school population. The fact that this overcrowding presently is isolated, suggests that it is a management problem.
The Ministry’s Education Sector Plan 2021-2025 appears to lay the blame at poor classroom management by teacher. The Plan claims that there appears to be a lack of knowledge about classroom management since teachers complain about overcrowded classrooms and not being able to cater to the diverse learning needs of diverse students in a given class. But is the problem at the level of the classroom or is it at the level of school placements?
The President made some lofty promises about education at the United Nations. This whole tent affair suggests that unless he remedies the problems at the level of the Ministry of Education, his plans will flounder.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Exxon has to put up a sign board across the Demerara Harbour Bridge to tell Guyanese what % of revenue we are getting from the Stabroek Block!
Dec 06, 20222022 Diamond Mineral Water Festival… Kaieteur News – The 2022 edition of the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) Diamond Mineral Water Hockey Festival came to an exciting finish on Sunday evening at...
Dec 06, 2022
Dec 06, 2022
Dec 06, 2022
Dec 05, 2022
Dec 05, 2022
Kaieteur News – I can’t publish names but you know the number of people, some well known that have spoken harshly... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States of America... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]