Sep 17, 2023 Letters
The Ministry of Education’s (MOE) announcement of new class size guidelines and clear definition of the roles of school administrations in teacher supervision are tiny steps in the right direction for our education system needing massive reforms. Cross-streaming for “A” list schools can also work in all schools as we seek Equity with Excellence in education. Our education system is overdue to be modernized and to serve the interests of a new education for a new Guyana with a new oil economy. Lots of technical assistance is needed from experienced, career educators and consultants. Just recently there were some unflattering headlines – “Problems plague the education system daily” (KN, Peeping Tom, Sept. 15, 2023); “Guyana’s edukayshun systems is sheer melody” (KN, Dem Boys Seh, Sept 15, 2023).
We need conversations on what interventions and improvement designs need to be in place once the NGSA and CSEC results are announced and showing too many failures and underachievement. The power of improvement is in the systems designs, not isolated, “nice to do,” random acts of improvement. Already the massive failures in math are attracting the attention of the MOE. That is good. Huge inequities in student achievement exist between the Georgetown/Region 4 areas and the rest of Guyana. In both NGSA and CSEC, there are schools with perpetually low performances. Why? How do we intervene to turn that around? We tend to celebrate the handful of academically gifted, high achievers as if that is reflective of our total student performance. And the high failure rates of the majority are soon forgotten. How will we reverse this? Some parents ask for transfers when they know their children are assigned to schools perceived as “bad.” How will we rachet up school governance, and accountability, build new school reform cultures, and ensure “No Child is Left Behind” or “Every Student Succeeds” similar to goals in the US education system? How about if the fastest-growing economy in the world also has the fastest and dramatic progress in education too? Can we do it? Yes, we can. I believe our best years in education are ahead of us.
In Guyana, for too long we have done “bean counting” in measuring inputs into education – the number of breakfasts served, number of books issued, grants given, amounts of money spent, number of teachers trained, number of new schools built by one government compared to other governments, etc. Counting inputs is one side of the equation. It’s time we focus on the other side of the equation – impact, outcomes, reculturing, change, and sustainable progress. We must ask the questions – what’s new, different, and better about education design and student achievement given these inputs and investments we have made? We cannot be pouring more and more money into education and student achievement is not affected dramatically, and we continue business as usual.
It’s good to see the MOE fixing the teacher salary problems. As the President holds meetings with teachers and their Union to implement all Collective Bargaining agreements, going forward, we must continue to be concerned about teacher retention strategies, while keeping student needs as our main focus. The Education System is critical in all our change processes in all institutions, and it must not lag behind. Education must be a pacesetter and leader as our national development requires it urgently. We must run harder, longer, and faster in education!
Dr. Jerry Jailall
DECEPTION & CORRUPTION getting WORSE by the minute in GUYANA.
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