Category Archives: Education

School of Agriculture yields 120 graduates

One hundred and twenty persons including 55 females on Friday graduated from the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) with diplomas and certificates.

The students, from the GSA’s Mon Repos and Essequibo campuses completed courses in agriculture, animal health, and forestry and for the first time, agro-processing. During the graduation exercise, GSA’s relevance in the changing agricultural and development setting was highlighted, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

This is the institution’s 50th anniversary and graduation exercise and it has been playing a leading role in agriculture education in Guyana and in the Caribbean in building capacity, GINA said while noting that one of the graduates is a scholarship student from St Vincent and the Grenadines.

A graduate collects his prize and trophy from Mrs Alli Baksh, wife of the Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Alli Baksh. (GINA photo)

In delivering the keynote address, Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said that the 50th class was testament to the strength of the institution. “For those of you graduating today, you should feel a sense of pride that you are graduating from a school that has a long and good history, and you will add to its reputation,” he was quoted as saying. “I look forward to seeing many of you contributing to the success of agriculture in our country,” he added.

GINA reported that government is investing $1.2 million per student per year at the GSA. The report said that at the GSA and at the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s Training Centre at Port Mourant, government is investing approximately $600 million in the training of young people to participate in the development of agriculture.

“We see agriculture as a vehicle to accelerate our development. Agriculture has been responsible for bringing Guyana as a least developing country to low middle income country. It is now time that we move towards a high middle income country and I am confident that agriculture is the vehicle that will take us there,” Ramsammy said. Government recognises that unless it develops its human resources, “the potential of agriculture to rapidly bring our country to another level of development (high middle income country) will not happen,” he added, according to GINA.

GINA reported that the school has introduced a number of new courses. “To satisfy the skill of the agro-processing sector, and as well to provide students with skills to establish their own enterprises, a new one-year certificate in agro-processing was introduced for the academic year 2013-2014,” the report said.

Meantime, a new course in theoretical and practical aspects of the operation of tractors was also introduced. In addition, two short courses -the operation, repairs and maintenance of small equipment which targets field workers, technicians and farmers; and urban agriculture techniques in grow box/hydroponics targeting women involved in urban farming, field technicians and teachers have been added to the curriculum.

The GSA 50th graduation procession

Ramsammy challenged the GSA’s management to commit to further developing the curriculum and to introduce new courses and further distance learning for the school. He posited that the various farms operated by the Guyana Livestock Development Authority and the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute can serve as attachment centres for the students, who could be facilitated in short specialist courses such as the management of black sigatoka disease and red palm mites, GINA said.

Meanwhile, the graduates were charged to set ablaze the modernisation of agriculture by Country Representative of the Inter-American Institution for Cooperation on Agricu-lture Wilmot Garnett. “Those of you from the rural communities, remember you are privileged to be selected to lead and empower especially our small farmers. You have been educated to modernise agriculture,” Garnett was quoted as saying.

He noted that the GSA has done its part in ensuring that students are well-rounded and ready to meet the challenges of agriculture. He encouraged the students to be steadfast in their approach and proactive in confronting these challenges, GINA reported. Garnett also urged the maintaining of zeal and professionalism and encouraged continued learning and networking to keep up to date on new technologies and practices.

This year’s Chief Executive Officer’s prize went to Hussain Ali. This award is given to the best graduating student in any of the two-year programmes offered by the institution at its Mon Repos campus. The Chairman’s Prize (the best graduating student in any of the two programmes offered by the institution at its Essequibo campus) went to Benny Augustus, GINA reported.

Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and ICCA’s Country Representative Wilmot Garnett with the GSA Board of Director, staff and part of the 2014 graduating class in the Diploma in Agriculture (GINA photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘E’ Field Sophia to get $31M nursery school

A $30.8 million nursery school will be constructed at ‘E’ Field Sophia, Cummings Park to accommodate 130 children, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand ann-ounced yesterday.

Manickchand met and interacted with parents at the Cummings Park Community Centre to establish where the school will be built because there was an issue with regards to land space, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported. Initially, the school was slated to be built obliquely opposite the community centre but that land was deemed too small. It was agreed that the school will be built on the northern side of the community centre where there is more space, the report said.

The school, which is scheduled to be completed by December 30, will be equipped with classrooms, a kitchenette and sick bay, head teacher’s office, a storage area, two rooms for students with disabilities and five washrooms, water facility, and an access bridge and guard hut, GINA reported.

The contract for the construction of the school was awarded to R. Kissoon Contracting Services and works will be supervised by the Educa-tion Ministry’s, Engineer-ing Department.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand interacting with parents at the Cummings Park Community Centre. (GINA photo)

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand (left) handing over the documents of the project to a resident of Cummings Park. (GINA photo)

Manickchand said that 118 students have already registered and expansion of the school must be taken into consideration because it is anticipated that more children will be starting school in the coming years. She called on the parents to collaborate with the ministry to ensure that the contractor delivers not only in a timely manner but also ensures that all materials expected for the construction of the school are used, GINA reported.

“We don’t want you to take your children very far, we want them close to home…that is why we are constructing this school, and we are consulting with parents because we need your support so as to ensure quality work is executed by the contractor,” Manickchand was quoted as saying. She suggested that the parents form themselves into a committee to assist in overlooking the project.

The Minister also took the opportunity to enlighten the parents on the $10,000 cash grant which is expected to be disbursed in September. The residents said that they preferred the money to be disbursed through the bank   or Western Union. Manickchand said that while the consultation on the distribution of the grant is ongoing, the ministry still has to consult with some financial agencies in this regard, GINA reported.

The initiative was introduced this year and will see the sum of $10 000 being allocated to every child in the public system. The initiative is expected to benefit 188 406 families of the students of nursery, primary, and secondary schools, and will cost a total of $2 billion, the report noted.

 

 

 

 

Guyana to benefit from Mexico/IICA technical agriculture programme

Guyana and 13 other Caribbean nations are set to benefit from an agriculture co-operation agreement between Mexico and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) that will train 150 technical personnel from the region in priority areas for agricultural development.

The agreement was signed by Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (Sagarpa) of Mexico, Enrique Martinez y Martinez and Director General of the IICA Victor M Villalobos within the framework of the Third Mexico-Caribbean Community (Caricom) Summit held in Yucatan, Mexico in April, a statement from the IICA said.

The programme will be conducted in three phases, the first of which is training in Mexico. Participants will also be drawn from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Suriname, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

The second phase involves the transfer of appropriate technology and capabilities acquired during the course, with supervised practicum in the respective countries through local projects, while the third phase will entail systemisation of the lessons learned and evaluation of the training programme, especially the results relating to productivity and the adaptation of Good Agricultural Practices to the conditions of each Caribbean country.

The Mexican Embassy in Guyana and the IICA said the ministry identified 13 officers to participate in the programmes in areas of family farming, protected agriculture, sheep production, rural tourism and plant pathology. Eight officers departed Guyana over the weekend while the remaining five will travel between month end and early August to participate in the programme, each of which will run for about two weeks.

Education Minister visits Berbice as consultations on $10,000 grant continues

Minister Priya Manickchand addresses students and parents in Region 6

EDUCATION Minister Priya Manickchand, accompanied by Georgetown and regional education officers, visited East Berbice (Region Six) on Friday, July 11, to continue consultations with parents and guardians on Government’s new initiative to give each school-age child a grant of $10,000.

The Minister and her entourage were warmly received by Region Six residents, who braved the rains to fill every meeting place in large numbers; and she held engagements with parents in 122 schools in several meetings on

Education Minister Priya Manickchand is mobbed by parents in Berbice

how the Education Ministry can best provide the grant to the children.
Minister Manickchand asked parents to indicate by the show of hands whether they preferred encashing a voucher or purchasing goods from accredited stores with the vouchers; and the almost unanimous choice was being able to encash the vouchers.

The parents/guardians were also asked to indicate the financial service of choice they would prefer to use in encashing the vouchers; and responses ranged from the Guyana Post Office Corporation to Western Union, to various commercial banks, to Mobile Money Ltd.

The Minister encouraged parents/guardians to alert her on issues that were of concern to them, whether or not those issues were education-related; and parents/guardians expressed concerns about businesses that were taking advantage of them by increasing prices on school items when they use the uniform vouchers to purchase items for their children.

Parents and students listen to Minister Manickchand

The parents were very angry that when the voucher programme is not on, prices for school items would cost much less, but as soon as the ministry announces start of the voucher programme, stores raise their prices. Parents expressed that they would normally be able to get many more items if they paid cash than when they purchase with the vouchers. They said they felt robbed. One woman at Tagore Memorial Secondary School said, “These stores unreasonable. The government trying to help the people and the store gouging out them eye”.
Minister Manickchand said that if this report is true, she is very disappointed with the stores. She assured the parents/guardians that if the ministry finds any store that has raised its prices for parents shopping with the government-issued vouchers, the Ministry would deal condignly with that individual business.

The Minister said that, on the other hand, she knew of some stores that would actually give special tokens to parents shopping with the vouchers. She publicly called on storeowners to have a conscience, and explained to the parents that they have the power to make the stores offer competitive prices.

Parents also expressed their views on automatic promotion, and made recommendation on how children should be promoted.

Minister Manickchand addressed a range of other issues raised by parents/guardians in the county, and committed to bringing to the attention of the various Ministers the matters that were raised.

(GINA)

 

 

 

Education Minister engages former students of President’s College on way forward for the school

Education Minister Priya Manickchand stresses a point during Saturday’s consultation on concerns regarding the state of President’s College

THE President’s College (PC) should be an institution reserved for the best performers at the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) examination, which determines the placement of students at secondary schools.

Entry to the PC should be restricted to 120 students of the top three per cent of NGSA performers, with allowance being made for one top student from Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine. And if the 120 students do not want to take up the places offered, as has been the case in many years, and only, for example, 20 students accept their placing, then the school should still be run to cater for those 20 students.

An old student raises a concern at the consultation

Those were quintessentially the contentions that attracted a robust five-hour exchange between Education Minister Priya Manickchand and a stakeholder group of approximately 20 former PC students on Saturday during a meeting hosted by the Education Minister at the National Centre for Educational Research and Development (NCERD) to hone in on schools’ admission policy.

The recommendations have since raised some level of concern with the Minister, who pointed out that the subvention to PC, where students live in, is presently $180M per year, and it may not be economically prudent to spend that amount of money on 20 students, instead of 120 students per year.

The former students were, however, adamant that the school should be reserved only for the top performers, irrespective of whether the number of children who accept the offer is small.

The Education Minister committed to addressing this recommendation, but made it clear that any change from the current admissions policy would require wide consultations with the parents, students and communities which will be adversely affected.

“If the request here now is to consider rebirthing the admission of only the top two per cent, I cannot do that without talking to the parents and students who are benefiting now. I have a constitutional responsibility to consult with the people who are going to be affected,” she said.

An interesting question that was asked during the consultation was: “Why change the current admissions policy when it benefits a wider cross section of students? This wide cross section of students, for example a student from Mabaruma, would not have had an opportunity to attend a very well-equipped school like PC, because the reality is that Government does not have all the money to equip all the schools with everything they need. Still, these students, once given a chance, do well. So why change what is working for the sake of having another elitist school?”

The premise of the question was rejected, and the old students who recommended a change were adamant that PC needs to be an institution reserved for the best performers.

CURRENT POLICY
The current admissions policy at PC is that all admissions would be done according to marks obtained, places available, cut off scores, and places of residence. All applicants would be ranked for selection according to score, and this year’s cut off score was 491.

According to the policy, a number of resident places would be identified for students of Regions One (Barima/Waini), Seven (Cuyuni/ Mazaruni), Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) and Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo).

Available resident places are advertised for students of Regions Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), Five (Mahaica/Berbice), Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) and 10 (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice), and the Linden/Soesdyke Highway. Non-residential students from Cummings Lodge to Mahaica would also be allocated places at President’s College.

The old students also called for a review of this policy to allow students from Cummings Lodge to Mahaica to have the option of residency.

Chief Education Officer Mr. Olato Sam, who was part of the panel fielding questions from the stakeholder group, explained that the current policy was put in place during 2009 after the number of students opting to attend PC began to drastically decline.

“We were not able to fill the school with the traditional numbers…the lowest number we had in the lead up to 2009 was 49, when the capacity is 120 in the first year admissions. What we were faced with was a decision on how to fill the school,” he said.

According to him, discussions on viable placement policy led to two scenarios: * One, extend the admissions to the best performing students in all the regions, in addition to the top two per cent; or * Two, have both residential and non-residential students attending, which would both ensure that the 120 first year admissions quota would be met and give an opportunity to students who would not have such an opportunity by setting an applicable benchmark, since the top three per cent were being awarded places at well-equipped schools like Queen’s College (QC) and the Bishops’ High School (BHS) anyway.

Sam said the latter option was decided on.

QUESTION OF INVESTMENT
Several of the old students contended that the reasons for the reduction in the number of students willing to attend PC included infrastructure problems, shortages of teaching staff, and the reduction of the wide range of programmes that were previously offered.

The Minister accepted that the programmes offered then, such as horseback riding, are not being offered now, but she said that the investments in the school have not only continued, but have significantly increased.

She, however, conceded that there appeared to have been some internal management problems with the school.

On the question of shortages of teachers, she noted that all schools, from time to time, have to deal with this challenge; and she made it a point to say that the current ratio of trained teachers to students is one to 35, which is the ideal ratio. She was clear that there are no remarkable shortages at the school.

Relative to the programme content, the Minister acknowledged that there has been some loss, but she was confident that all is not lost; and she pointed out that the nine-month-old Board of Governors was working on restoring this.

She rejected the assertion that infrastructure problems, shortages of teaching staff, and programme content in the school were the sole reasons why students were not taking up the offer to attend PC.

“It was never a question of there being a lack of Government commitment,” the Minister stressed.

Manickchand also pointed out that Guyana’s realities of 2014 have changed from those of 1985, and she said that some of these new realities may have affected parents’ decisions not to send their children to the school.

She said that, in the last few years, a number of top performing students were given the option to attend PC, but decided to attend schools within their own regions.

“This speaks to the investment we have been making across the board. We have developed our schools in regions, and have resourced those schools with facilities, equipment, and trained staff; and children are choosing to stay at schools in their own areas… So it is not one thing,” she said.

She gave the example of the top students for the Caribbean region in 2012 and 2013, who both stayed at schools in Essequibo (Abram Zuil and Anna Regina respectively) instead of taking up places offered to them at the Georgetown schools.

TAKE AWAY
Other issues that came up for discussion were (a): The accomplishments of the Board of Governors since its appointment, which was listed and lauded
(b) Efficient internal management and (c) The opportunity for the PC old students to play a greater role in bolstering the state of the institution.

By the end of the session, and following an appeal by Minister Manickchand for “preconceived notions” to be dispelled, the stakeholder group agreed to the following:
1. That the Minister of Education would review and consult on the recommendation for a review of the admissions policy

2. The Minister of Education would review the policy that non-residential students from Cummings Lodge to Mahaica would also be offered residential places at President’s College, to allow students in this catchment the option of residency

3. That the Minister of Education would publicly announce PC as a national school, as are QC, BHS, St. Stanislaus, St Roses High and St. Joseph High

4. That the Ministry of Education would ensure clearer communication of its policies and decisions

5. That old students of PC can attend the weekly meeting of the Board of Governors with PC teachers, every Thursday at 1.15pm

6. That greater steps would be taken to make PC self-sufficient

7. That the old students would organise themselves in a more efficient manner, as the Government of Guyana would support an old students association that is looking at supporting the school; and

8. That there needs to be a clear definition of where the school should go, academically and in other regards.

Considering the fact that tangible takeaways were agreed on, the Education Minister called for the engagement in the interest of improving PC be a two-sided one.
Manickchand said, “It is easy to say you are interested, but harder to put your money and time where your mouth is. I cannot keep engaging if you are falling down on your job.

“Discussions are great, but you have to properly send criticisms my way, and you have to do more than be critical if you are interested in contributing to PC.

“From the last meeting to now, the old students have not done the things they said they were going to do, and I believe one of the important things that needs to be done is to ensure there is an organised old students association.”

The Minister pointed out that she had deliberately appointed a number of old students to the board, and was very disappointed to see that their attendance rate at board meetings was so low.

(By Vanessa Narine)

 

NGSA students at a particular Region 1 school to be reassessed on July 2 and 3

STUDENTS in a particular school in Region One, who were affected by the integrity of the recent National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA)through irregularities, will be reassessed on July 2 and 3.

This was announced by Superintendent of Examinations, Sauda Kadir, at a Ministry of Education press briefing last Thursday at the National Center for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), Battery Road, Kingston.
In a press release on May 30th, the Ministry of Education announced that there were irregularities in the conduct of the NGSA in Region One which has affected the integrity of that school’s NGSA results. The Ministry at the time indicated to the public that they were actively considering various options and would make interventions where its paramount consideration will be what is in the best interest of the affected students.

QUALITY ASSURANCE
In recent years, the Ministry of Education established a number of quality assurance mechanisms to ensure that examinations and their subsequent results are of the highest integrity. In fact, it was these measures that allowed the Ministry to identify this problem in the affected area and school. No other irregularities were found in any of the other schools in Guyana.

NO REASSESSMENT
Meanwhile, three children who
were on their way to participate in the second day of the NGSA at the Academy of Excellence at Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara, were injured in a vehicular accident that prevented them from completing the examination. The Ministry of Education has since announced that these students will not be reassessed but other measures will be taken to award them a secondary school.

(Rebecca Ganesh-Ally)

N/A Multilateral hosts inaugural school-leaving ceremony

A section of the outgoing class of 2014

THE New Amsterdam Multilateral School (NAMS) once again led by example as the premier learning institution in Berbice when it hosted an inaugural exercise in the form of a school leaving ceremony for the class of 2014.

The innovative event was held Wednesday in honour of 181 students who recently sat the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

Mrs. Gloria Beharry presents a medal to a student.

The 2009-2014 batch of 235 pupils is the largest intake in the history of the school so far. However, 54 of them did not complete the five-year programme at the institution.
Guest speaker at the history-making event was former headmaster Elton Lewis who congratulated those who made it through to the CSEC level and reminded them that the learning process is yet to be completed.
“In school, you are taught a lesson then given a test; in life you are given a test that teaches you a lesson.” He added, “This is a proud moment not only for you but for the stakeholders in the education process.”
The retired educator also stressed the need for further investment in the education sector, and quoted U.S. President Barack Obama who said, “We have an obligation and responsibility to pay emphasis in our students and schools; we must make sure that the people who have the grace, desire and the will, but not the money — can still get the best education possible.”

MEMORABLE HISTORY
Deputy headmistress of NAMS, Shaundel Phillips, in her remarks to a gathering of parents, invitees, teachers and students, noted that the class of 2014 is a batch with a memorable history.
“We know the journey was challenging, we have had our moments where we were up, in the center and moments when were close to the bottom but never fell,” she recalled.
It was revealed that the group had a ‘high level of energy’, which kept teachers on their heels and, forced them to develop new ideas in ensuring the effective delivery of education in a conducive atmosphere.
“Even though at times I had to tell you about your utterly disgusting and reprehensible attitude, I did remind you that you have a purpose (at school),” Phillips said. “Unless you stay focused, your goals will not be achieved,” she cautioned.
President of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), pastor Carlton Charles and school board member Mrs. Gloria Beharry also extended best wishes to the outgoing class and urged them to remember their alma mater.
Medals were presented to each student, while awards were given to those who were consistent in their academic performances and other outstanding performers in sports and co-curricular activities.

(By Michael Khan)

 

 

Disbursement mechanism for education grant being finalised

EDUCATION Minister, Dr. Priya Manickchand, yesterday told the National Assembly that the mechanism for the disbursement of the $10,000 education grant for all students in the public school system is being finalised.

The disclosure was in response to a question from Shadow Education Minister, Amna Ally, as to what mechanism will be employed by the Ministry of Education to disburse the $10,000 per child, as has been promised in Budget 2014, and when will the monies be disbursed.
Minister Manickchand replied that the monies will most likely be disbursed at the beginning of the Christmas Term, or even during this same term, so as to ensure that students on roll, and newly registered ones are captured in the roll-out of the disbursement.
She said that consultations are ongoing with parents, teachers and other stakeholders so as to decide on the best mechanisms for disbursement.
Minister Manickchand assured the House that Members of Parliament (MPs) will be kept abreast of what mechanism of disbursement has been finally agreed upon, which is both efficient and effective.
More than 188,000 students, she said, are expected to benefit from the grant, including over 3,000 additional nursery school students, given the change in the entry age from three years, nine months to three years, six months.
She surmised that the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, may have to return to the House for a supplementary provision to cater for the increased number of children expected to be enrolled in the public school system, once the new school year commences.
Additionally, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) MP, Vanessa Kissoon, has suggested that the voucher system, which is used to offer uniform assistance for students, be employed to efficiently undertake the disbursement of the education grant.
The grant was approved by the National Assembly in April, during the 2014 Budget debates, and was one of several measures announced by the Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, to contribute to the improvement of the lives of the Guyanese people. The provision caters for each nursery, primary and secondary school child in Guyana.
After the announcement of the financial support, Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr. Roger Luncheon, in April said that Cabinet is currently exploring ways through which the $10,000 per child cash grant can be disbursed.
“The main focus is access…whether the access would be unfettered, essentially open-ended, and the parents have absolute discretion…,” the HPS had said at the time.
He said too that Cabinet was also looking at ways through which this disbursement could contribute to a cashless transaction, or at least promote the development of financial services in Guyana.
The Ministries of Finance and Education and entrepreneurs alike have all recognised that handling disbursements in a cashless manner can help improve the financial sector.
According to Dr. Luncheon, ‘cashless’ does not involve an actual cash transfer; instead, a voucher can be given to the parents as is done in the uniform assistance programme, whereby specific items of clothing and other school requirements can be purchased.
The other possibility is not exactly cashless, he noted, in that public officers could receive this grant, along with their salaries and other emoluments, which are deposited in Bank accounts.
The proposed cash grant initiative will benefit approximately 188,406 families, and will cost the government a total of $2B.

(By Vanessa Narine)

Manickchand lays historic Education Bill in National Assembly

Education Minister, Dr. Priya Manickchand having a brief word with the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Sherlock Isaacs moments before the Bill was read for the first time

–First whole Education Bill since Guyana gained Independence

A PROPOSED Education Bill, the first of its kind since Guyana gained independence, according to subject Minister, Dr. Priya Manickchand, was tabled in the National Assembly yesterday, and read for the first time.

The current Education Act being utilised in Guyana came into being since 1876, and was last amended sometime in 1976. The proposed Bill, on the other hand, is intended to repeal the Education Act; reform the legal

Minister Manickchand stops by to say ‘Hello’ to some St. Stanislaus College students who were at Parliament yesterday

framework for education in Guyana; and provide an effective system of education related to the needs of the people.
The 126-page Bill includes legislative provisions for several first-time undertakings, and addresses several areas, ranging from administration of the sector, to special-needs education. And with regards to the latter, the Bill outlines the determination of special educational needs, special needs appeals, and the establishment of a council on special education.

SPECIAL-NEEDS EDUCATION
According to the Bill, the Chief Education Officer shall provide a special education programme for any student of compulsory school age, and may provide education for a student beyond that age, who, by virtue of intellectual, communicative, behavioral, physical or multiple attributes or other conditions, is in need of special education.

North Georgetown Secondary’s Headmistress and students at the National Assembly yesterday (Photos courtesy of the Ministry of Education)

It says, “A student who is entitled to a special education programme shall have the programme delivered in the least restrictive and most enabling environment that resources permit, and that is considered practicable by the Chief Education Officer in consultation with the principal and professional staff of the school and the student’s parents, having regard to the educational needs and rights of other students.
“A special education programme may take the form of an individual education plan tailored to the specific or individual needs of the student.”
The proposed legislation further empowers students with special needs, by stipulating that if it is determined that a student will require an individual education plan, then the cost of developing, providing and maintaining the plan shall be split between the parents and the Ministry.
Provision has also been made for the establishment of a Council on Special Education, which will advise the subject Minister on the guidelines for implementing a special education programme.

ADMINISTRATION
In terms of administration, the Bill stipulates that the Minister shall, subject to the resources of the State, ensure that all citizens of Guyana, regardless of age, race, creed, gender, physical or mental ability or socio-

Queen’s College students and their headmistress and Education Officer, Ms. Melcita Bovell who were all present to witness the historic Bill being laid in the House

economic status, are given the best opportunity to achieve their full potential through equal access to quality education, as defined by the standards and norms outlined by the Ministry. The section dealing with administration also addresses the de-centralised education system of management; the responsibilities and powers of the Education Minister; and the establishment of a National Advisory Committee on Education
The Bill specifies that the functions of the Advisory Committee shall be to advise the Minister on: Matters relating to education; matters respecting the discharge of any of the Minister’s responsibilities or the exercising of the Minister’s powers under this Act, as the Minister refers to the Advisory Committee; and on any other matters relating to the promotion of education that the Minister requests advice on from the Advisory Committee.
Several detailed parameters by which private schools should be guided are also mentioned in the Bill.

DECENTRALISED SYSTEM
On the matter of decentralising the education system, the Bill states that the Ministry of Education, headed by the Minister, Permanent Secretary and the Chief Education Officer, has responsibility for:
* National education strategic planning and research;
* Policy formulation and development;
* Resource mobilization;
* Providing centralised services in relation to teacher training and development, facilities of school inspection, curriculum development, text and exercise books, school feeding, administration of examinations, setting of academic and non-academic standards;
* Monitoring and evaluating education delivery and policy implementation; and
* Reporting on the performance of the education system throughout the ten administrative regions, including the Georgetown education district
With respect to the ten Regional Democratic Councils, they are responsible for the management of the country’s ten administrative regions, except the Georgetown district; and their responsibility extends to the general supervision of education in each region, and to the actual implementation of the education programme through the Regional Education Departments. The Georgetown education district is managed by the Ministry of Education, through a Principal Education Officer.
The Regional Education Departments, according to the Bill, will be directly responsible for the management and supervision of the day-to-day implementation of education in their respective regions, with among their major areas of responsibilities being:
* Management of the delivery of education at the regional level through regular monitoring, supervision and inspection visits to schools;
* Communication of education policies;
* Advising a Regional Democratic Council on education and providing feedback to the Ministry;
* Establishing and maintaining good school and community relationships through the involvement of a Parent Teacher Association in every school;
* Ensuring overall consistency of the regional work plan and school improvement plan with the strategic plan of the Ministry; and
* Ensuring that the non-academic standards are met.
Additionally, the employment of teachers, qualifications of teachers, requirements for employment as a teacher, and the appointment of teachers to public schools, etc., are clearly stipulated in the Bill. The Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) is to be governed by this piece of legislation too.
Also, the institution of a national curriculum, guidelines addressing core and foundation subjects, assessment stages, determination of attainment targets and the establishment of subject panels are included.

OTHER AREAS
Another section of the Bill that deals with students’ rights and responsibilities includes the right to education, compulsory education, free tuition at schools, students’ responsibilities, accountability of students, the return of property and the exercise of rights.
Parents’ rights and responsibilities are also dealt with in the Bill and takes into consideration several areas, such as: Choice of education; rights and responsibilities of parents or guardians; student records and reports; Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs); suggestions and wishes of parents to be considered; and school committees.
Other areas are: The admission of students, maintenance of order and discipline in schools, categories of schools and the stages of education and management of public educational institutions and the attendance of students.
Relative to the latter, the Bill says, “It shall be the duty of the parents or guardians of a child of compulsory school age to cause the child to regularly and punctually attend school unless the child is excused from school attendance as prescribed by the regulations. The parent or guardian of a child of compulsory school age who wishes the child to be exempt from compulsory school attendance may apply for a certificate of exemption from attendance.”
Additionally, provisions addressing distance learning and continuing and adult education are also included.
Monitoring, evaluation, reporting and development in the sector and the purpose of monitoring, evaluation, reporting and development also form and important part of the Bill – all in the interest of  providing an adequate frameworks for the delivery of high quality, contemporary education, to better develop each student’s potential and maximise their educational achievement.
The move to draft a new Education Bill to adequately address the modern education issues and challenges currently experienced by the sector began in 2005. The Bill tabled in the House reflects information gleaned by the Ministry through a number of public consultations held countrywide between the Ministry of Education and all key stakeholders.

NB: Please put in a box in corner of page:
* Provides for modern education system and to meet needs of students of all ages and abilities
* Caters for de-centralised education system of management
* Mandates establishment of National Advisory Committee on Education
* Provides for the establishment of a Council on Special Education
* Regularises the operations of private schools which must now have permit, be registered, comply with standards.
* Prescribes severe penalties for assault and abuse of teachers by parents and students
* Makes education compulsory from nursery to secondary.

(By Vanessa Narine)

 

Hard work really does pay off

Jorrel De Santos

–as NGSA top achievers find out

JORREL De Santos of New Guyana School secured the top position as Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand announced the National Grade Six Assessment 2014 results, ahead of her previously stated June 27 date.

Speaking to the press at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) on Battery Road, Kingston, Georgetown, she said the highest possible standardised scores obtainable were 136 points for Mathematics, 132 points for English Language, 137 points for Social Studies and 135 points for Science, making a total of 540 available.

Aliah Mohamed

She also said cut-off marks for the top sixth form secondary schools are Queen’s College (QC) 514; Bishops’ High School 510; St. Stanislaus College 506; St. Rose’s High School 503 and St. Joseph High School 500.
The other top nine candidates are Aliah Mohamed of School of the Nations with 531 marks; Ravi Singh of Westfield Prep with 530; Isaac Mallampati of New Guyana School with 527;

Ravi Singh

Analise Samaroo of School of the Nations with 525; Krystal Singh of Success Elementary with 524; Jeremiah Bentham of Winfer Gardens with 524; Jeron Boucher of Genesis Early Childhood in Region Three with 524; Shania De Groot of Success Elementary with 523 and Reuben Stanley of Mae’s Under-12 with 523, all of whom secured places at QC.

DE SANTOS, who hopes to be a successful neurosurgeon, scored 533 marks out of a possible 540 to secure himself a place at QC. Speaking with the media, the confident youngster said:“I knew I would have done well because of the amount of work I put in. But I didn’t expect to do this well.” He explained that a lot of his recreational activities, such as playing video games and surfing the Internet had to stop. He thanked all his teachers, including his nursery school teacher, who helped to lay the foundation for him, his parents and family who supported him through his journey, as well as God for giving him the strength and understanding. His advice to other candidates is “Revise, revise, revise! The exam is not easy! Even though you might have done a past worksheet that was easy, still take my advice: Revise!”

Isaac Mallampati

Second-placed ALIAH MOHAMED, of School of the Nations, said she was very surprised when she was given the good news. She explained tha, when the work at school was finished, the homework and reading at home continued, even on weekends and holidays, but “It paid off.”

RAVI SINGH of Westfield Prep, who gained third position, related that the NGSA exams called for a lot of studying and commitment. He said that a lot of his hobbies and fun had to be put aside in order for him to achieve good results. When asked what his advice is to fellow students now preparing for the NGSA, he said: “This is a very stressful journey, but you have to brave-up; do your best.” He thanked God, his teachers, his friends and above all, the support of his family, for his success at the exam. He said, very boldly, that he wants to be a pilot.

Analisa Samaroo

ISAAC MALLAMPATI, also from the New Guyana School, conceded that “the exams were challenging, but because of all my studying, I was able to do well.” He gained fourth place with 527 marks, and is still considering what his plans for the August holidays are, while very excited about going to QC.
“I knew I worked hard, but this is such a surprise! I didn’t know I would have done so well!” said an excited Analisa Samaroo of School of the Nations, who achieved 525 marks to secure the fifth position.
She explained that she had to give up some of her hobbies to facilitate extra studies. “I hope they work hard, so that they can get to where I am going now” was her advice to her colleagues preparing for their exams.

Jeremiah Bentham

JEREMIAH BENTHAM from Winfer Gardens Primary shared the sixth position, achieving 524 marks, and securing a place at QC. “I feel very shocked at the moment but yet happy,” was his immediate response. He pointed out that his day starts as early as 04:00 hrs to have some extra studies done. He credited his success to God, his parents and teachers. “When you are in the exam room, do not doubt yourself; and make sure you study hard,” he advised fellow students.

Sharing the ninth position, REUBEN STANLEY from Mae’s Under-12, who gained 523 marks, said that he had a disappointing start when he missed the National Grade Two Assessment, but he continued to study, and today, it has paid off. He credits his success to his parents, who asked him to stop playing video games, cut down on his play time and continue to revise. He expressed thanks, as well, to his teachers and fellow classmates. “I love Science; it’s my best subject,” he said.

Reuben Stanley

A percentage of the marks gained at the Grade Two and the Grade Four Assessments was combined with the marks gained at the Grade Six Assessment in order to determine the candidates’ overall scores. Five percent of each candidate’s Grade Two score in Mathematics and English, and ten percent of the Grade Four in the same subjects, were added to 85 percent of each candidate’s score in those subjects. The combined scores in Mathematics and English were combined with the scores gained in Science and Social Studies.

(Photos by Sonell Nelson)

(By Rebecca Ganesh-Ally)