Nov 05, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will soon provide the Ministry of Education with a US$43M loan that is expected to go a long way in easing massive overcrowding at hinterland schools.
According to project documents, the loan is expected to create a better learning environment in 31 hinterland schools, mainly in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine.
The schools identified will have access to an improved learning environment with the provision of essential services including water, energy, and connectivity and an improved quality of education services through a package of comprehensive services to create multicultural, student-centered classrooms.
With respect to overcrowding, the IDB in its Socio-Cultural Analysis dated October 2022, found that at Kariakau Primary School (Region One), it was initially designed to accommodate approximately 20 to 30 students. However, the school currently has an enrollment of 135 students in Grades One to Six. In addition, the school also houses a nursery school with an enrollment of 44 students, and a Primary Top with an enrollment of 74 students in Grades Seven, Eight and Nine.
The IDB in its report said the overcrowding of the school has resulted in classroom activities being conducted at the ICT Hub and the Teachers’ Quarters, and the school having to operate on a rotational basis where students of specific grades attend class on a shift system.
At Tabatinga (Region Nine) where a new school will be constructed, students for the time being are required to travel 20-25 minutes by walking to attend the Arapaima Primary School, where there is mass overcrowding. The IDB said Arapaima Primary School was built to house 250 students but currently has 515.
At Hosororo Primary School in Region One, the IDB said there is ‘severe overcrowding and lack of facilities.’ It said the main auditorium space is divided by chalkboards into five classrooms, which accommodates Grades One to Five, and there are two Grade Six classes which are located in the space allocated for the science and Information Technology labs.
The financial institution said too that the upper flat of the building houses Grades 7-11, but is currently without electricity due to the building not being wired. It further noted that the current overcrowding is resulting in a daily disruption in classes, due to the noise and distraction of all the primary grades being housed in one space. In addition, the IDB said there are security concerns surrounding the safety of teaching aids and other resources that are often left unattended during noncontact periods.
Once key upgrades are completed, the IDB said it is expected that approximately 3,261 students in the hinterland regions will benefit from the improved learning environment. Such works fall under Component One of the Ministry of Education’s Educational Recovery and Transformation project.
Under Component Two, it is expected that 4,106 students from Grades Two to Six and their 165 teachers, will benefit from the provision of digital devices.
The IDB said it sees this project as critical, especially when one considers the fact that the gap between the hinterland and the coastland, where education is concerned, has widened. The institution said this indicates that improvements are more significant on the coast.
The bank said too that the gap accounts for the inability to access resources such as adequate schools and classrooms facilities, access to essential services such as water, internet and electricity, and deficiencies in the delivery of education such as adequate number of qualified teachers to student’s ratio.
Importantly, the bank said the gap has widened in communities that are located in remote locations such as Kariaku, Region One where it is expensive to access, and where there are no alternative options to the public school system. It said these results in over-crowding of classrooms, and students competing for limited resources.
Furthermore, the IDB said primary schools in communities like Kariaku and Hosororo, are expected to provide resources to educate nursery levels and primary-top levels where no nursery or secondary schools are available. As such, students that have completed a primary education are forced to continue their education at a primary top, migrate to another area where there is a secondary school, or are forced to leave school and seek employment.
The IDB said the gap creates unequal opportunities, which have marginalized some indigenous communities, and therefore have provided fewer indigenous students with the opportunity to complete a secondary education.
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