CHAPTER 18

EDUCATION

 

18.I BASIC FEATURES

18.I.1 Although Guyana’s educational system was considered to be one of the best in the Caribbean during the 1960s, it is probably among the weakest today. Its decline is due to a number of economic and social factors which have already been considered in this document. Suffice it to say that these factors have led to a most unsatisfactory and unacceptable state of affairs: learning rates in the schools are extremely low; a large proportion of the teaching force is unqualified and untrained; absenteeism on the part of both teachers and students is rife; and textbooks and other instructional materials are often unavailable.

18.I.2 Guyana’s success in attaining universal access to primary schools in the early 1970s has been eroded, and has been replaced by rising repetition and drop out rates. Moreover, a survey of school-leavers and the adult population has revealed alarmingly high levels of functional illiteracy.

18.I.3 The educational system includes (non-compulsory) preschool, six years of primary school, four to seven years of secondary school, and between three and four years of higher academic or practical education.

18.I.4 Schooling is mandatory up to the age of fifteen years. This means that the average student is required to complete the full primary course plus three years of secondary education. The statutory age for entering school is five years nine months, and students are usually expected to remain in the school system until age sixteen. Individuals who may have left the school system with low scores or no qualifications have an opportunity to participate in a limited number of adult education courses offered by the University of Guyana, the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE), or the Adult Education Association, as well as by various NGOs and the private sector.

18.I.5 With the introduction of the regional system in 1980, a greater element of decentralisation occurred. As early as 1985, the ten Regional Democratic Councils were given the mandate to construct and maintain schools in their jurisdictions; allocate resources among schools; recruit and pay temporary and acting teachers; and ensure that schools operate according to regional and national objectives. The central Ministry retained responsibility for monitoring educational indicators across the regions; ensuring that there are no significant disparities in the quality of education across regions; procuring and delivering textbooks to all schools; coordinating and administering the main primary and secondary school examinations; providing support services to the schools in Georgetown; and directing the operations of most of the institutions of higher education, including the post-secondary institutions and the Teacher Training College. The University of Guyana is autonomous in academic matters; however, most of its funds come directly from the Ministry of Finance.

18.I.6 The educational system has four basic levels: nursery, primary, secondary, and post-secondary. In total there are 1,273 schools in Guyana: 386 at the nursery level; 426 at the primary, a similar number (426) at the secondary level, including 322 secondary departments in primary schools; 21 prevocational institutions; 1 teacher training college; and 1 university. In addition there are 7 special education and 5 private schools.

18.I.7 The number of teachers in Guyana in 1997-1998 was 9,495, of whom 2,066 were male and 7,405 were female. There exists a female dominance in the teaching staff at every level.

18.I.8 Nursery education is available to children who are 3 years 9 months by the end of the first term of the school year. Pupils spend two years in a programme designed to develop their social, intellectual and psychomotor skills through activities that are based mostly on child development rather than on subject matter disciplines.

18.I.9 The programme is delivered in discrete nursery schools and also in primary schools that carry nursery classes. Of the 1,978 nursery level teachers in the system in 1997/98 only 54 were graduates, and only 668 were trained.

18.I.10 Primary education, which is compulsory and of six years’ duration, is aimed at providing basic literacy and numeracy skills. The official age of entry is 5 years 9 months by December 31 of the year of admission. Net enrolment is about 98 percent. Attendance rates have been improving, but there is still great variation among regions.

18.I.11 In the 1997 - 98 academic year there were 418 discrete primary schools and eight primary classes in the public system. There were also five privately-run primary schools. Pupil/teacher ratios range from 21:1 to 33:1. The ratio of students to trained teachers is less satisfactory, ranging from 41:1 to 186:1. There has been a steady decline in the percentage of trained teachers: while in 1985/86 trained teachers comprised 77 percent of the teaching population, by 1997/98 the percentage had dropped to about 50 percent. The shortage of trained teachers is more pronounced in the hinterland areas where over 60 percent of the teachers is untrained.

18.I.12 There are two secondary education programmes: a four-year programme which is offered in the Secondary department of Primary (All-Age) Schools and discrete Community High Schools. This programme offers a mix of academic and pre-vocational skills with a strong bias towards the pre-vocational skills, especially in the final year; and a five-year programme which is done in General Secondary Schools and prepares students to write the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examination and/or the General Certificate of Education (GCE) examination ordinary level at the end of five years. This programme is more academically-oriented. Students who perform well at these examinations have an opportunity to pursue studies for the GCE Advanced Level (‘A’ Level) Examinations or Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).

18.I.13 About fifty-five percent of the teachers at this level is professionally trained. This represents a ten percent reduction in the proportion of trained teachers since 1986.

18.I.14 In view of the need to improve the quality, relevance, equity and efficiency of education, preliminary work began on a Secondary School Reform Project in 1995 with funds from the World Bank. Under this project, twelve pilot schools (one Senior Secondary School, one General Secondary School, seven Community High Schools, and three All-Age schools) are being used as the testing ground for the reform.

18.I.15 Post-secondary education is provided by the University of Guyana, the Cyril Potter College of Education; technical and vocational education and training institutes; and private sector institutions.

18.I.16 The University of Guyana offers courses leading to first degrees in all Faculties, i.e., Agriculture, Arts, Education, Health Sciences, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Technology. Undergraduate diploma and certificate courses are also conducted in all Faculties. In addition, associate degrees are provided in the Faculty of Health Sciences. There are Graduate Diploma programmes in Education Development Studies and International Studies. Programmes leading to the Master’s degree are given in Guyanese History, English, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Education.

18.I.17 The Teacher Training Programme at the Cyril Potter College falls into two categories: (i) in-service training for teachers already in the service; and (ii) pre-service training for individuals intending to make teaching a career.

18.I.18 A network of technical and vocational education and training institutions offers a wide range of training programmes. These institutions include: the Government Technical Institute; the New Amsterdam Technical Institute; the Linden Technical Institute; the Guyana Industrial Training Centre; the Carnegie School of Home Economics; and the Guyana School of Agriculture.

18.I.19 Other institutions including the Board of Industrial Training, the Private Aircraft Owners Association; the Guyana Sugar Company, the two government-owned bauxite companies, the Light and Power Company, and the Guyana National Engineering Corporation contribute meaningfully to education.

18.I.20 Over the last decade there has been a proliferation of private schools in computing, accountancy and business, electronics and mechanics.

18.I.21 During the last decade what can be described as a parallel system has developed alongside the formal Ministry-controlled system of education. Both because of its nature and because no serious analysis of it has yet been done, there are few, if any, quantifiable data available. An out-of-school education system has also developed in response to the perceived shortcomings of the educational system.

18.I.22 Many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) including various churches, parent associations, community groups, and firms, are involved in education. In addition, the international donor community has long recognised the need to strengthen Guyana’s educational system and provides support in numerous ways.

18.II ISSUES AND CONSTRAINTS

18.II.1 Sector-wide Issues

Financing of Education

18.II.1.1 The enviable reputation established by Guyana in the 1960s as having one of the best educational systems in the Caribbean was based on a combination of factors, among which were a system of private and public schools and the payment of tuition fees. However, fees were abolished in 1976 for all levels of education, when all schools were brought under State control. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Government soon found it difficult to meet growing public expectations for full access to education of a high quality. Moreover, this inability to maintain standards was exacerbated by the oil crises which occurred soon after, and the consequential further decline of the economy. Declining financial allocations from the State since then have adversely affected both the quality of education in Guyana, and citizens’ access to it.

18.II.1.2 In the period 1989 to 1992 Guyana’s expenditure on education was only 5.5 percent of its total revenue. This compared unfavourably with almost all the countries in the world. By 1998 the rate had improved to 12.9 percent. It was still, however, far short of norms for the hemisphere and the world. Two of the most grievous consequences of this allocation level are low teachers' salaries and a shortage of funds to improve physical plant and to supply materials.

Balance Between Different Levels of Education

18.II.1.3 It is generally acknowledged that the returns to a nation are greatest from investments in primary education. Yet available data demonstrate that in Guyana the level of public expenditure at the primary level is still relatively low. There is a need for national commitment, as a matter of fundamental urgency to basic education and re-education, both in the rural and hinterland regions and in the capital city and its environs. Primary education, the platform for all future learning, where the fundamentals of the basics are learned, must be given the priority it deserves.

Inequities in Spending on and Access to Education

18.II.1.4 Recent patterns in educational spending show a distinct bias in favour of the students who are academically more advanced, many of whom come from families who might be capable of defraying part of the cost of their children’s education. This phenomenon is part of a larger syndrome in which educational expenditure does not seem to contain any element of targeting. It must be recognised that the provision of free education amounts to a fiscal subsidy, and that the targeting of such subsidies to the most needy students would enable the existing levels of funding to be more effectively utilised for raising the quality of education.

18.II.1.5 An inequitable pattern, which is directly linked to the issue of teachers' salaries, is emerging, where families who are able to afford the cost of private tutoring increasingly take recourse to that option. Families of the lower-income strata are unable to provide this benefit, and so their children become educationally disadvantaged. The allocation of funds to all schools should be based on a more rational and equitable basis, having regard to programme, location, etc.

Gender Sensitivity

18.II.1.6 Gender imbalances are present at all levels of education in Guyana. For example, few female students specialise in the areas of science and technology, despite the fact that boys and girls are required to be involved in all subject areas up to Form 3 (Grade 9). In addition, the large drop-out rate of male students could be related to the fact that there are relatively few male role models in the profession, a situation which may be linked to low salary levels.

Administration of Education

18.II.1.7 The programmes that are implemented by the Regional Administration sometimes deviate significantly from the plans and programme of activities initially established by the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Regional Education Department. This is caused, in large part, by the inadequacy of the structural relationships among the Central Ministry, the Regional Education Department, and Regional Democratic Councils. As a result the educational system appears to be incapable of dealing effectively with the recent surges of capital and technical assistance inflows from bilateral and multilateral agencies. In addition, planning at the regional level currently does not always include officials serving in their respective communities.

Quality of Education

18.II.1.8 The overriding objective of the entire educational sector is to enhance the quality of education, i.e., improve the process by which children and youth learn. Attaining this objective will require an array of measures, ranging from improvements in the salaries, academic and technical qualifications and training of teachers, to curricular changes and improvements in physical plant, and to the promotion of greater community involvement in schools.

Social Infrastructure

18.II.1.9 The collapse of social infrastructure - pride in community, social values and graces, civility - has made the teaching environment more difficult.

Current Levels of Literacy

18.II.1.10 There is a literacy problem in Guyana. Indeed it is estimated that there is a 21 percent rate of absolute literacy in Guyana, and an overall functional literacy rate that is just over 50 percent. This state of affairs is due in part to weaknesses in the education system and in part to the absence of a culture of literacy in many home environments. As a result of this constraint many students graduate with low levels of literacy and have little or no opportunity of developing into functionally literate citizens.

18.II.2 Issues Specific to Levels of Education

Pre-school Child Care

18.II.2.1 The demand for day care and play school facilities in terms of formal requests has risen significantly, particularly in Georgetown, but also in other urban centres. While the problem may not be as acute in the rural areas, hard data on which to base any type of planning of facilities are difficult to acquire.

18.II.2.2 The provision of day care and play school facilities is not within the competence of the Ministry of Education. However, there is a logical link between the day care and the play school systems on one hand, and the formal schooling system on the other, particularly at the entry level of nursery education. Given this nexus, all concerned stand to gain by at least exchanging views and reaching broad agreements on the relationships between the two, in order to ease the transition from one stage to the other and to enhance the level of comfort of the new entrants into the schooling system.

Nursery Level Education

18.II.2.3 The two-year programme at the nursery level is designed to provide young children with a learning environment that will facilitate their physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development, as well as the development of basic skills and desirable attitudes to learning. However, the majority of Guyanese children speak home languages that are different from the official language of the country and, unless this fact is recognised, the literacy and language problems which characterise our school-age children at present, will continue.

18.II.2.4 Overcrowding exists, especially in Georgetown schools, due to parents’ requests that children be placed in schools near to their place of work rather than home, and due to parents’ perception that some nursery schools are linked to "good" primary schools.

18.II.2.5 The Government’s school feeding programme, supported by the World Food Programme, is not fully accessed, particularly in areas where nutritional deficiency is more pronounced. Forty percent of the children in this category have no access to vital supplements. The percentage is as high as 60 in the riverain and hinterland areas.

Primary Level Education

18.II.2.6 The schools with successful track records are experiencing growing overcrowding, while the ones with poor records are underpopulated. This has created gross imbalances in the demand and supply of educational facilities.

18.II.2.7 Because of the pivotal role of primary education in regard to eventual access to higher education, and subsequently to the job market, access to quality primary and basic education has been identified as critical to poor families, indigenous peoples, and marginal workers. As noted above, State funding for education has failed in the past to reflect the priority of primary education.

18.II.2.8 The wide ranging differences in the interpretation and delivery of the curriculum offered at various primary schools throughout the system is a source of much concern.

18.II.2.9 Other basic concerns at this level are the need for teachers to spend more quality time in the classroom, the need to promote more faithful attendance by pupils, the need for improved provision of instructional materials, the need to improve facilities, and the need for greater parental and community involvement in the schools.

18.II.2.10 Teachers, and especially head teachers, need professional training in administration and in managing the relationship between school and community.

Secondary Level Education

18.II.2.11 About 50 percent of the nation’s eleven year olds are directed into schools which have programmes of shorter duration than the standard, and teachers who are generally under-qualified and untrained. Moreover, they often occupy derelict and badly-designed buildings and are required to learn in a depressed environment. In this respect, a strategic concern that merits review is the present structure under which a child’s educational fate is virtually sealed at the end of primary school, when the examination results determine whether his or her future track will be academic or vocational. Given that there are "late bloomers" in any system, the present structure may be shunting aside potential academic talent.

18.II.2.12 A growing number of students, especially boys in the secondary department of the primary programme and the CHS, are dropping out before grade 9 (before the completion of basic education).

18.II.2.13 The secondary school curriculum and the general teaching methodology are driven by the examination process and not by an overriding concern to stimulate and encourage critical thinking and optimise assimilation of material. As a consequence, the evaluation mechanism which monitors the reliability and consistency of the teaching-learning process is deficient.

18.II.2.14 The persistent shortage of secondary school teachers has created a situation where about half of the secondary school teaching staff is employed on a part-time basis. Although salaries were recently increased, conditions of service remain uncompetitive with respect to the packages offered by the local private sector and in overseas markets. The net result is an increase in extra lessons throughout Guyana. This in turn leads to limited participation of pupils in both co- and extra-curricular activities despite sporadic attempts by the management of schools to organize and structure such activities on a regular basis.

18.II.2.15 The core curriculum, in these days of globalisation and informatics, fails to provide students with basic computer literacy and foreign language competence. The attempts to correct this are as yet too feeble.

18.II.2.16 Secondary, like primary schools, need greater parental and community involvement, rehabilitation of facilities, and better instructional materials.

Training of Teachers and Inspecting of Schools

18.II.2.17 The lack of adequate numbers of suitably qualified applicants has caused the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and the Faculty of Education to lower their entry requirements for persons seeking to be trained as teachers. The high demand for graduates from these institutions has often permitted graduates to be recruited to teach at higher levels in the system than those for which they were trained. Two other major difficulties are the recruiting of suitably experienced lecturers to train the teachers and the inability of the current staff to properly assess the practical aspects of the training.

18.II.2.18 Inspection is done at all levels: nursery, primary and secondary, on an average of only once every three years. This is as a consequence of the shortage of staff, the non-existence of necessary amenities such as computers and the scarcity of transportation facilities.

University Education

18.II.2.19 Tertiary institutions in most parts of the world which are developed, or are successfully developing, generally enjoy a level of autonomy which frees them from political and extraneous influences that would jeopardize or impair their ability to accomplish their mission. There are clear indications that the University of Guyana does not enjoy this level of autonomy. Heavy reliance on Government funding, and the uncertainty of the level of funding have undermined the ability of the University to operate as an autonomous tertiary institution.

18.II.2.20 The University of Guyana is not performing to its full potential because of a number of factors: these include undue interference in its management, many years of inattention to the physical plant; a number of minimally qualified lecturers; a lack of basic equipment; and inadequate facilities and low salaries.

18.II.2.21 Most importantly the University has failed to keep pace with the development of technology.

18.II.2.22 Low standards of intake adversely affect the University’s performance, as some of its limited resources are being used to deliver remedial courses to bring students up to entry level requirements.

18.II.2.23 The University needs to mobilise more funds and improve its capacity for financial management. It must strive to increase its cost effectiveness.

18.II.2.24 The University’s records highlight a strong student bias to enroll in the social sciences and the arts, and to avoid technology and natural sciences. This bias may also be a reflection of the state of education at the primary and secondary levels. Given the current demand for engineers and technicians, it is critical that the enrollment in these latter areas be increased either directly at the University or indirectly in special contractual arrangements.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

18.II.2.25 Technical education in Guyana appears to be delivered haphazardly, and to be without a vision or a grand design. It is poorly financed and managed; the linkages between those who deliver TVET and the private sector which absorbs the graduates are tenuous; and the basic training of the students is often inadequate.

18.II.2.26 A few industries provide their own training programmes, but they are primarily for a narrow range of skills.

18.II.2.27 A survey of existing TVET institutions ought to be speedily made, and a system developed to use their combined facilities in a more rational manner. There is a dearth of female students entering the field of technical education. The reason for this state of affairs ought to be identified and rectified.

Special Needs Education

18.II.2.28 The term "special needs" is used to refer to slow learners and children with emotional and physical learning disabilities, as well as the gifted. There are very few schools in Guyana which are dedicated to children with special needs: David Rose’s, Saint Barnabas, and the Sophia Special Schools. Four other schools have a classroom dedicated to children with special needs: Saint Rose’s High School for the blind; South Ruimveldt Park Primary School for the hearing impaired; Diamond Primary School for multiple disabilities; and the New Amsterdam Primary School also for the blind. These facilities are meant to respond to all levels of children with disabilities. None is adequately staffed and equipped.

18.II.2.29 Considering the limited available resources, it could be presumed that most special needs children are either in regular schools or at home, and that their special educational needs are left unmet.

Adult Literacy Programmes

18.II.2.30 Many adults in Guyana are illiterate, or at least not functionally literate. However, there has not been enough emphasis on adult literacy campaigns.

18.II.3 Constraints

General Constraints

18.II.3.1 In spite of an upward trend in recent years, budgetary allocations to education are still far from adequate.

18.II.3.2 Teachers’ salaries are in general too low to attract and retain the most qualified staff.

18.II.3.3 There is an insufficiency of instructional equipment and material.

18.II.3.4 Physical conditions have deteriorated.

18.II.3.5 The levels of training for many teachers are inadequate, especially in the hinterland regions.

18.II.3.6 Many teachers are not academically qualified for the levels or subjects they teach.

18.II.3.7 The relative lack of amenities in many hinterland areas makes it more difficult to recruit teachers for those areas.

18.II.3.8 There has not been a strong tradition of involvement in the schools by parents and communities, although there has been an increasing trend in this regard. Experience worldwide has shown that such involvement tends to raise the quality of instruction, reduce student absenteeism, improve the condition of physical plant, and assist in identifying supplementary sources of financing for schools.

18.II.3.9 Men are underrepresented in the teaching profession; hence there is a relative lack of role models for boys.

18.II.3.10 Constraints Specific to Levels of Schooling and Functions

18.II.3.11 In addition to these general constraints, there are several additional constraints which are specific to each level. They are as follows:

a. In the administration of education:

b. In Nursery Level education:

c. In Primary Education:

d. In Secondary Education:

e. In teacher training:

f. At the University of Guyana:

g. In technical, vocational education and training:

h. In special needs education:

18.III SECTORAL OBJECTIVES

18.III.1 The three fundamental, all-embracing, objectives of the nation's educational system are:

    1. raising levels of literacy and numeracy in the population;
    2. improving the population's command of life skills; and
    3. meeting the special educational needs of children who are physically or mentally challenged in one way or another.

18.III.2 To facilitate the achievement of these basic objectives in the context of the current issues and constraints affecting the educational system, the following broad operational ‘objectives will be pursued.

    1. Increasing the relative importance accorded to primary education within the system.
    2. Undertaking a remedial or recuperative campaign at the level of adult education, for all school leavers and other adults who have not attained sufficient levels of literacy.
    3. Increasing student attendance.
    4. Increasing the effectiveness of instruction at all levels in the system, per unit of resources expended.
    5. Mobilising greater amounts of financial resources for all levels and types of education.
    6. Targeting the expenditures on basic education more effectively.
    7. Maximising the results throughout the education system, from Kindergarten to University.
    8. Increasing public awareness of the value of education and functional literacy.
    9. Making the system more flexible in order to accommodate students who mature academically at different rates.
    10. Reducing regional inequalities in education.
    11. Increasing the gender sensitivity of the system at all levels with regard to specific issues affecting both male and female students.
    12. Focussing more on scientific and technical education, computer literacy, and informatics.

 

18.IV THE STRATEGY

Financing of Education

18.IV.1 The share of the national budget allocated to education will be raised continuously from the present level of approximately 14 percent to 20 percent by 2005, and will be sustained at or above that level for the rest of the decade.

18.IV.2 All current administrative and legal barriers to the establishment of private schools will be removed.

18.IV.3 Private schools will be required to comply with Ministry guidelines on curricula, teacher qualifications and safety standards of physical facilities. However, maximum freedom will be given to those schools in respect of staff management and promotion, the kinds of educational materials used, and other areas of operational decisions. Indeed, innovation will be encouraged in school administration. By permitting private schools to emerge and absorb part of the student population in a self-financing way, the resources available to the public system will yield higher levels of support per student.

18.IV.4 Mechanisms for improving consultative processes with communities and target groups on cost-sharing activities, on the development of school financial plans and related topics, and for the involvement of community watchdog groups in the monitoring of the use of physical facilities to reduce repair costs will be expanded and made more systematic.

18.IV.5 Selected school administrative services, such as transport, catering, etc. that could be more competitively delivered commercially, will be contracted out.

18.IV.6 A modest basic fee that would contribute to books and materials, and school security and first aid services, will be established for primary and secondary schools. Mechanisms for parent involvement and consultations will, at the same time, be put in place. It must be recognised that, at present, most parents do pay for their children's education, through the purchase of materials that are not readily available and through extra-curricular lessons to compensate for the existing deficiencies of the system. This demonstrated willingness to pay needs to be channelled in directions that would help to strengthen the system. Every effort will be made to enhance partnerships between parents and schools. Mechanisms will be put in place to identify those families that should be exempted from paying fees.

18.IV.7 Examination subsidies for CXC and GCE, except for the poorest families, will be reduced significantly. The payment of even these reduced subsidies will be based on satisfactory performance by students at the national fourth form test.

18.IV.8 The restructuring of administration, enrolment and expenditure at President's College, which has already begun, will be continued. Attempts will be made to maintain standards and the capacity to deliver quality education. Other residential schools will be improved to bring them more in line with President's College.

18.IV.9 Aspects of the Secondary School Reform Project (SSRP) and the Primary Education Improvement Programme (PEIP) support the involvement of parents and other members of the community in the development of school improvement plans. Partnerships will be expanded and schools will be allowed to raise, by these and other mechanisms, supplementary funding without prejudicing their regular allotment from the Ministry of Education. In this way, schools will be given additional incentives to strengthen community alliances. The supplementary funding mobilised in this way will be used for purchasing additional equipment and materials, establishing programmes of teacher incentives, providing additional financial resources to special education, and establishing bursaries for students of low-income families.

18.IV.10 Modest charges for the after-school care of young children will be made. Care of this kind can become an activity that more than pays for itself, thus contributing to funding the central educational mission of the schools.

18.IV.11 The hiring-out of premises will be done during periods when they are not utilised for schooling.

Targeting Educational Expenditure

18.IV.12 The financing strategies which have just been outlined will also enable the better targeting of educational expenditure on needy students, so that in the end the subsidies implicit in this expenditure would go to those who most require them.

18.IV.13 The variations in the amount of spending per student between regions with similar characteristics will be reduced.

Balance between Different Levels of Education

18.IV.14 Notwithstanding the emphasis that needs to be placed on primary education because of its fundamental place in the acquisition of basic education, it is also essential to realize the interdependence that necessarily exists among the various levels of the educational system. One level feeds the other both up and down the system. Today's unqualified or under-qualified teachers are the products of yesterday's classrooms. The nation cannot wait ten years to see improvement in the functional literacy levels of today's six-year-olds, while at the same time seeing its stock of functionally illiterate out-of-school youth and adults increase. To break the cycle, emphasis will be placed on securing appropriate literacy and numeracy skills throughout the system. There will be an attack on illiteracy from multiple points. This will include the testing for literacy levels and the building in of remedial programmes well in advance of CXC examinations. This will be the premier priority for the first decade of the 21st century.

18.IV.15 Candidates for entry to UG and CPCE will be required to write admission tests in English Language, Mathematics and Social Studies with difficulty levels which are at least on par with an upgraded fifth form level; or successfully complete a remedial programme as a requirement for entry.

18.IV.16 To facilitate improved standards, students who enter these institutions will be required to demonstrate the ability to write cohesive prose compositions that are devoid of spelling and grammatical errors.

Gender Sensitivity

18.IV.17 Specific material on sensitivity with respect to gender will be included in the curricula for teacher training. In these courses, trainee teachers will be exposed to gender-free teaching skills and techniques.

18.IV.18 A special commission will review the curricula of the system, and its teaching and learning materials, with respect to gender considerations, and appropriate revisions will be made.

18.IV.19 Monitoring tools and mechanisms will be developed by the Ministry of Education for following the treatment of gender issues in the school system, and for providing corresponding feedback to school administrators and teachers.

18.IV.20 Special bursaries will be established to encourage girls to go into scientific and technical vocational fields and also to encourage boys to complete high school. Increased attention will be given to providing encouragement to males to stay in school and to develop intellectually. Positive role models will be used to help them discover the value of education.

Administration of Education

18.IV.21 Improved baseline data, along with their computerisation, and systematic budgetary monitoring procedures will be developed and implemented.

18.IV.22 The relationships between and among the Central Ministry, the Regional Education Departments and the Regional Democratic Councils will be redefined and clarified and their respective coordination mechanisms strengthened.

18.IV.23 Training programmes for school administrators, central educational authorities and regional officials will be strengthened and applied more broadly. Special orientation and training programmes will be instituted for newly appointed regional officials.

18.1V.24 Mechanisms will be developed to involve community members more fully in the annual planning exercise for each school and in the implementation of such plans. Particular emphasis will be given to involving the families of children with special needs.

18.IV.25 Similarly, mechanisms will be developed for the involvement of representatives of local communities and regions in overall education planning and delivery, including issues related to the curriculum.

 

18.IV.26 Policies Specific to Levels of Education

Pre-School Care

18.IV.26.1 Training will be provided to day care and playgroup instructors.

18.IV.26.2 A survey will be conducted in order to develop a greater understanding of the demand for day care and play school facilities.

18.IV.26.3 Partly as a function of the results of this survey, a programme will be launched to upgrade existing facilities and build new ones. Regular meetings will be set up between concerned agencies and representative parents and teachers, in order to arrive at a common understanding of the basic elements of a "curriculum" for day care and play groups.

18.IV.26.4 A campaign will be carried out to establish strategic alliances with the business sector, NGOs and community-based organisations to provide enhanced child care facilities within nursery schools in general, and in particular in the main urban centres.

Nursery Level Education

18.IV.26.5 The new curriculum, which has been formulated, will be continually monitored to:

18.IV.26.6 Campaigns will be undertaken to increase the enrolment in nursery schools by at least 15 percent over the next five years, with particular emphasis on the hinterland and deep riverain areas. By 2010, nursery education will be available to all children in the relevant age cohort.

18.IV.26.7 Expanded training activities will be provided for teachers to improve their capabilities. The quantitative goal of the expanded training programme will be to increase the number of trained teachers at this level by at least 20 percent annually.

18.IV.26.8 The number of facilities specifically built for purposes of nursery schooling will be increased. Through the PTAs, the private sector will be encouraged to help in providing more of these facilities.

18.IV.26.9 Teachers at this level will also be trained to teach English as a second language.

18.IV.26.10 Informational material and short courses will be developed for community groups, NGOs, and parents who wish to participate in the delivery of early childhood education. This will expand initiatives already started by the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programme and the MOE

Parent Education programme.

18.IV.26.11 Provision will be made for the nursery schools to offer supervision for children who cannot be picked up immediately at the end of the session. Fees commensurate with the effort will be charged for providing this service, or alternatively parent volunteers will be recruited.

18.IV.26.12 Guidelines and documentation will be available to communities that wish to start their own nursery schools.

Primary Level Education

18.IV.26.13 The percentage of primary teachers who are professionally trained will be increased annually, so that the proportion of trained teachers, by the year 2010, will be at least 80 percent. Distance learning methods for in-service training will be utilised as well as the regular programme of the CPCE. Care will be taken to ensure that training programmes are conducted in such a way as not to have a disruptive effect on students.

18.IV.26.14 A programme for raising salaries with the additional budgetary allocations will be developed, giving special consideration to hinterland areas and introducing mechanisms for the effective implementation of performance-based incentives (merit increments) for all teachers. Performance-based incentives, including financial assistance, will also be given for the attainment of appropriate relevant and additional academic and professional qualifications.

18.IV.26.15 Except where there is a major learning difficulty, the focus at the primary level will be on improved literacy, numeracy and communication skills.

18.IV.26.16 Curricula relevant to the lives of students and to challenges of current and evolving trends will be developed. The curriculum will therefore include introduction to a foreign language and computers and the development of life skills or problem-solving abilities. Values, moral underpinnings and factual material for good citizenship will also be stressed. A panel of experts will be convened for the purpose of revising the curriculum.

18.IV.26.17 Student performance norms, according to grade, level and subject, will be established.

18.IV.26.18 There will be a review of current assessment practices, supported by a system of improved record-keeping in schools to institutionalise continuous assessment.

18.IV.26.19 This system of continuous assessment will be put in place with a view to effecting a smoother transition from Primary to Secondary Level. Such assessments will be supported by the use of cumulative record cards, which are currently being developed. A national committee will be convened to evaluate the SSEE with the aforementioned performance norms and continuous assessments.

18.IV.26.20 There will be more than one entry point into the academic stream. Eliminating the SSEE will not alleviate the problems associated with the lack of sufficient places in good schools and the lack of qualified teachers.

18.IV.26.21 Primary teaching guides will be made available to all teachers in the system at this level. The guides will also be provided to all supervisory staff, in order to improve the capacity of the inspectorate and regional supervisory staff to monitor the implementation of the curriculum.

18.IV.26.22 Assistance from external donors and local NGOs will be utilized to strengthen school-feeding programmes so that virtually all primary schools will be covered.

18.IV.26.23 The programmes of rehabilitation and construction of schools will continue. Assistance for this activity and for the design of purpose-built structures for different levels of enrolment will be sought from donor agencies. Special attention will be paid to schools in poverty-stricken areas.

18.IV.26.24 The location of new schools and the rationalisation of existing schools will be informed by data gathered in a recently completed School Mapping Exercise and by norms established in the new Education Act and Regulations. The School Mapping database will be updated each year by information gathered from the returns of the annual statistical questionnaires, which are sent out to all schools.

18.IV.26.25 Alliances with programmes such as SIMAP, BNTF and others, for activities such as the repair of schools, provision of furniture, creation of libraries, and supply of developmental materials, will be maintained and strengthened. PTAs will be actively involved in the coordination of outside support for the schools.

18.IV.26.26 The libraries established under the PEIP will be maintained. PTAs will be encouraged to undertake the establishment of school and community libraries in cooperation with head teachers, teaching staff and students.

18.IV.26.27 Depending on the outcome of the current project, additional schools with past achievement rates that are below average will be converted into magnet schools through an intensive and coordinated programme of renovation of physical plant, introduction of additional teaching materials, and provision of intensive in-service training to the teaching staff.

18.IV.26.28 Ancillary staff will be reintroduced into schools with more than 500 pupils.

18.IV.26.29 The testing of strategies for facilitating the transition between nursery and primary and between primary and secondary, which has been started with assistance from UNICEF, will continue. By the end of the decade, there will be well-researched and documented strategies for improving the transitions among these levels.

Secondary Level Education

18.IV.26.30 Community high school programmes will be extended by one year. The first year will be utilised for repeat and remedial work in language, mathematics and science, as a first step to the unification of GSS, CHS and the secondary departments of the primary schools.

18.IV.26.31 The relevance of the curriculum will be improved by incorporating Spanish and more intensive work with computers, and by devoting more attention to technical and vocational subjects and general life- skills.

18.IV.26.32 A more structured system of supervised teaching in the secondary schools, especially from Form One to Form Three, where the learning of basic concepts is crucial to increasing students’ capacity to understand and apply analytical tools at subsequent levels in the educational system and later in the world of work, will be enforced.

18.IV.26.33 Guidelines for teachers to help students develop cognitive learning skills will be prepared and distributed. Teachers will be encouraged to foster analytical skills, critical thinking and advanced application skills and to set questions that test all levels of the cognitive domain.

18.IV.26.34 A more equitable system for awarding CXC subsidies to students based on need, and on their performance and demonstrated ability, will be established.

18.IV.26.35 A programme for implementing measures to increase the cost-effectiveness of all residential schools will be implemented: the pupil-teacher ratio will therefore be increased, but not to exceed the national recommendation for secondary schools which will be outlined in the new Education Act; greater accommodation will be made for students from the hinterland; and the administrative staff will be rationalised.

18.IV.26.36 A policy of assigning available and experienced form teachers who are able to offer advice, guidance and pastoral care to all students, and in particular to those of Forms One and Two, will be formulated and implemented. In addition, consideration will be given to engaging the services of persons qualified to give guidance and care to students and if necessary, to families.

18.IV.26.37 Efforts to ensure that the first forms have a full complement of teachers for all subject areas will be redoubled. Whenever possible, experienced teachers will be placed in the early forms as well as in the examination years.

18.IV.26.38 Years of compulsory schooling will be extended either to the age of 16 or to the completion of a five-year secondary programme.

18.IV.26.39 Certification at the secondary level will be broadened to include an examination which, by means of content and reporting, will give indication of the level of achievement of students.

A Second Chance at Basic Education

18.IV.26.40 The non-formal system of education will be strengthened. Programmes will be designed both to develop basic literacy skills and to raise the level of functional literacy and numeracy of young Guyanese adults as well as the older members of the population. This will be a part of the priority programme.

18.IV.26.41 A Guyana Council for Adult and Continuing Education will be established as a coordinating body involving all stakeholders in adult education. This body will set strategic directions, develop logical progressions, and ensure coherence and standards in the learning path for adults, including certification. It will also seek funding, and establish creative partnerships between centres for basic and functional literacy and the private sector.

18.IV.26.42 Basic and functional literacy classes for adults, as well as core secondary curricula content, will be conducted at suitable locations. Teachers and other literacy facilitators will be specially trained to teach adults.

Training of Teachers

18.IV.26.43 Eighty percent of all teachers will be trained by 2010.

18.IV.26.44 The number of trained graduates will be increased by 50 percent in the same period.

18.IV.26.45 New training centres at the regional level and the development of modalities of distance training will be established. The establishment of an accreditation body will ensure that there is sufficient equivalency in the various teacher-training programmes.

18.IV.26.46 Assistance will be sought from external donors to secure access to improved technologies for teacher training.

18.IV.26.47 The cost-effectiveness of teacher training by distance education methodologies will be improved. However, trained teacher educator ratios in training programmes will be increased.

18.IV.26.48 A part of each year’s increase for education in the national budget will be allocated to improving the salaries until they are at a realistic level. Savings realised through increases in the cost-effectiveness of training programmes will also be directed in large measure to increasing salaries.

18.IV.26.49 A more realistic assessment of the cost of training a teacher than currently exists will be made, and this cost will be factored into contracts. In the event that teachers break their contracts, they will be required to repay on a pro-rata basis.

18.IV.26.50 Entry requirements for teacher training programmes will be strengthened.

18.IV.26.51 Teacher training will emphasise:

18.IV.26.52 Greater opportunities will be provided for training of the current stock of teachers through short courses and seminars given in situ, and through distance learning.

18.IV.26.53 Incentives will be provided to teachers for participating in training programmes, especially those linked to acquisition of knowledge and techniques in mathematics, sciences, technology and languages.

18.IV.26.54 A system through which highly qualified persons who have not come through the educational curriculum in their tertiary studies can acquire professional teaching competence through intensified and abbreviated courses in teacher training will be provided. In addition, provision will be made for such persons to participate in teaching on a part-time or occasional basis without having received full certification from a teacher-training programme.

18.IV.26.55 Provision will be made for licensing teachers who are trained at institutions other than CPCE and the University of Guyana.

18.IV.26.56 The relationships among CPCE, NCERD and the University of Guyana will be rationalised to emphasise greater linkages between programmes.

18.IV.26.57 A systematic evaluation of all teacher-training programmes will be undertaken every five years to establish levels, benchmarks and relationships between the various teacher-training programmes.

18.IV.26.58 In the long term all heads of schools will be academically and professionally qualified prior to their appointment. They will also receive specific training in management and administration.

18.IV.26.59 Provision will be made for the teacher educators to receive periodic refresher materials and courses.

18.IV.26.60 Guidance teachers, and vocational guidance personnel, will be trained and appointed to schools.

18.IV.26.61 Instruction in the teaching of English as a Second Language will be provided at Teachers’ College and will be a requirement for certification.

18.IV.26.62 All candidates for Teachers’ College will be required to pass a special college admission test in English and Mathematics.

18.IV.26.63 There will be limits as to the length of time an unqualified or under-qualified teacher, currently employed, continues to teach without improving his/her academic and professional qualifications.

18.IV.26.64 A code of conduct for teachers will be developed and implemented by the teachers’ union and Ministry of Education.

18.IV.26.65 Teacher training programmes and management courses will include the presentation of racial, ethnic, religious and other sensitive issues.

Tertiary Education

18.IV.26.66 The University of Guyana Council will be appointed by a broad-based, non-partisan body which will include the government, the opposition parties, representatives of religious bodies, the private sector and the trade unions.

18.IV.26.67 A predictable, reliable level of subvention to the University will be maintained over the long term, based on a transparent and workable formula.

18.IV.26.68 The public subvention to the University will be transferred in a lump sum on an annual basis at least two months before the commencement of the academic year.

18.IV.26.69 The University will seek to have a more viable and cost-effective grouping of courses.

18.1V.26.70 The University will seek to achieve more significant efficiency in the utilisation of its existing income by improving its management, attention being paid to the number of administrative units and positions and to the ratio of ancillary to academic staff.

18.IV.26.71 Training and assistance will be provided to improve the institution’s capacity for sound financial management and coordination.

18.IV.26.72 Management will act more speedily to commercialise the University’s potential services in research and development. Consultancy services will be expanded.

18.IV.26.73 Fees will be maintained and will vary from programme to programme.

18.IV.26.74 The student loan scheme will be maintained.

18.IV.26.75 Greater support for the University will be mobilised, through both domestic and foreign sources, including contributions to scholarship funds.

18.IV.26.76 Rolling five-year plans will be prepared for capital and recurrent expenditures, to ensure greater predictability and probity in the use of funds.

18.IV.26.77 A University grants commission will be set up, with membership drawn in part from the University Council, to recommend medium and long term Government financial allocations.

18.IV.26.78 The University’s entry requirement of five O’ Levels or five CXC, inclusive of English, will be retained.

18.IV.26.79 To expand the intake of students, high school diplomas will be considered in conjunction with other requirements for entry. A scholastic aptitude test will be utilised as part of the selection process.

18.IV.26.80 The University’s capacity to provide remedial teaching prior to enrolment will be strengthened.

18.IV.26.81 Scholarships will be provided to needy students.

18.IV.26.82 Adult and continuing education programmes will be strengthened.

18.IV.26.83 Triennial reviews of course offerings will be undertaken with a view to revising them in the light of the requirements of the economy, modern trends and international developments.

18.IV.26.84 In 2001, the University will develop a long term plan for establishing and strengthening centres of excellence which eventually could draw students from the Caribbean region and elsewhere. Special support from industry and international donors will be sought for research and teaching programmes (and student scholarships) in those centres. Topics that commend themselves as natural candidates for such centres include tropical forestry and forest management, geology and mining, and fisheries management.

18.IV.26.85 Forms of collaboration with the University of the West Indies and other universities will be intensified.

18.IV.26.86 The University’s foreign language offerings, especially Spanish, will be improved as a priority.

18.IV.26.87 The mainstreaming of gender will be introduced in more course offerings. Faculty and administrators will be given special materials and seminars on the subject.

18.1V.26.88 The availability of cultural and sports facilities for students will be increased and support will be given to activities which will enhance the quality of the students’ social life.

18.IV.26.89 The most deteriorated aspects of the physical plant will be urgently rehabilitated and systematic maintenance of all facilities will be implemented.

18.IV.26.90 A stronger University presence will be created in both Berbice and Essequibo, which may be expanded as demand and resources permit.

18.IV.26.91 The emoluments of the University teaching staff will be scrupulously scrutinised to ascertain whether its various levels enable it to recruit teachers of the highest available calibre.

18.IV.26.92 The University will establish and strictly enforce, academic and experience requirements that are comparable to those obtaining in the Caribbean, for the recomitment and promotion of its academic staff.

18.IV.26.93 A special pre-university science course will be established at the University in order to increase its intake of students for training in science and technology. Course applicants will be required to pass a special test.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training

18.IV.26.94 A tripartite council comprising representatives of the trade union movement, the private sector and government will be established.

18.IV.26.95 This council will provide guidance in financial management and will take responsibility in such areas as the certification of graduating students and the periodic evaluation of the TVET system.

18.IV.26.96 Employers will be encouraged to support TVET programmes in kind as well as in cash, by contributing employees’ time and making available equipment and materials.

18.IV.26.97 The TVET system will be structured, so that it might offer more short-term courses in general for those with a basic education, craft programmes for qualified Form IV graduates, technician and diploma programmes for Form V graduates with appropriate CXC qualifications, and the opportunity for admission to programmes at the University of Guyana for outstanding graduates.

18.IV.26.98 In consultation with GUYSUCO, the facilities offered at their technical institutes will be remodelled in order to provide training to a wider cross-section of students than those now catered for at these institutions.

18.IV.26.99 Special emphasis will be given to short courses in rural areas on topics that have the potential to enhance the income of farmers.

18.IV.26.100 The increased funding available for TVET will be used to expand its scope, and to improve the quality of instruction. The expansion will take place in areas indicated by the tripartite council.

18.IV.26.101 Information technology and design and technology programmes at primary and secondary levels will be introduced.

18.IV.26.102 The geographical coverage of the TVET system will be widened and made more accessible to rural/hinterland communities.

18.IV.26.103 A programme to increase the number of female applicants in non-traditional fields will be initiated.

18.IV.26.103 The provision of entrepreneurial studies in the curricula of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions will be an important aspect of this sub-section of the education sector.

Special Needs Education

18.IV.26.104 The National Strategy for Special Needs Education will focus on putting children with special needs into the mainstream of education. Those who are severely challenged will be catered for in special institutions, to ensure an appropriate educational climate, including relevant curricula with effective instructional materials and the requisite support services and physical infrastructure; foster informed involvement of immediate families of children with special needs as well as interested communities; train teachers in the essential skills and techniques required in special needs education; develop partnerships with support groups and non-governmental organisations; and ensuring the provision of suitable challenges for the gifted.

18.IV.26.105 A programme of early and regular diagnostic testing will be instituted in the schools to identify learning difficulties and put in place timely remedial measures. In this regard, the Ministry of Health will work in close collaboration with the educational system for the early detection of special physical needs and the design of timely interventions where necessary, preferably before school age. This cooperation will also encompass the educational needs of street children, dropouts, juvenile delinquents and abused children.

18.IV.26.106 All schools will be required to articulate their multi-year and annual plans and resource requirements for satisfying children’s special needs.

18.IV.26.107 The nature of examinations and assessments to which special needs students are subjected will be reviewed to make them more varied and appropriate.

18.IV.26.108 Existing special needs schools will be strengthened in all aspects to enable them to cater more effectively to their students.

18.IV.26.109 The committee on Special Needs will be resuscitated, more formally recognised, expanded in the scope of its activities, and empowered to deal more effectively with associated issues. The committee’s substantive responsibility will be to develop, introduce, support, and monitor appropriate educational programmes for those students with special needs.

Other Educational Policies

18.IV.26.110 Guyana will become a centre of learning for English as a second language, for persons from the countries of South America. A task force will be established to review possibilities in this area and formulate recommendations.

18.IV.26.112 To preserve its traditions and meet the challenge of interacting on a greater scale with the external world, programmes will be developed to promote reading and creative writing as a means of sustaining Guyanese art forms.

18.IV.26.113 Textbooks and other teaching materials will reflect the character of Guyanese society. Curricula will include ethical and moral instruction to provide the platform for discussing civic virtues, tolerance and understanding in a multi-racial society.

18.IV.26.114 The school programme will endeavour to inculcate, discipline, courtesy and orderliness in students and, through them, in the general society.