Education Minister visits Mon Repos Primary – assesses physical, environmental conditions
GINA, GUYANA, Monday, May 22, 2017
Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine today, visited the Mon Repos Primary School, on the East Coast of Demerara, to assess the state of the school’s facilities and environment. The minister was accompanied by the Chief Education Officer (CEO) Marcel Hutson and regional officials including the Region Four Regional Chairman (RC), Genevieve Allen.
The visit to school is the beginning of periodic visits for the Minister to schools in each region in the coming weeks and months. It is aimed at finding solutions to the many challenges associated with maintaining school facilities, Minister Roopnaraine explained.
“My real plan is to try to visit the schools from literally Crabwood Creek to Charity. It is a big work. There are a lot of schools, but I am basically very unhappy when the budget comes around that the Ministry of Education is basically sending back all of these monies to the Treasury and we have work to do…there needs to be a lot of work in relation to the upkeep and maintenance and ensuring that the schools are repaired in a timely way, so that we are not looking at a bigger and bigger disaster,” the minister pointed out.
He further explained that, “It is like a potholed in the road. You start with a small hole, you neglect it, and after a couple of mornings, couple of rain showers, what you have is a pond in the middle of the road, and that is a good metaphor for what we are seeing, and I think that it is very important that we try to ensure that the schools in which we are educating our children are really worthy of our children, and I am frankly not really happy when I see the condition of some of the schools,” Minister Roopnaraine said.
The Education Minister said that the ministry will be working with the schools, head teachers, regional officials and the relevant agencies to
pursue solutions to address the deteriorating infrastructure. He explained that, “What the ministry would be doing is that as far as we can influence regional policy (because at the level of the budget, we have the Minister of Communities, who sits right there and it is not like we are in different governments)… we are going to solicit as much assistance from the Ministry of Communities to ensure that at the level of the region we can get what needs to be done,”
“We cannot do everything sitting in Brickdam, but you know the education system is very, decentralised and we have to ensure that the regions get their full share of attention,” he noted.
Constitutionally, education is the government’s responsibility, whereas school facilities are generally the regional government’s responsibility.
Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson said that a large part of what the ministry will have do, is monitoring to ensure that annual repairs and construction are carried out on all the facilities.
“As the minister rightly said we have a decentralised system, but that does not negate the fact that we have a responsibility by policy, and by virtue of the fact that we are responsible for supervision and monitoring of what happens in the regions, so we are going to move in that direction,” Hutson said.
He added that, “It is important that we step up the pace in terms of what is happening at the regional level because at the end of the day, when things do not go right in the regions, the central ministry gets the blame…so we will work with the regional administration to ensure what has to happen, happens.”
Although hard evidence is scanty, a few studies indicate that when a school building is in disrepair, student achievement suffers. Government as part of rebuilding the education system to deliver twenty first century learners has been focusing on improving not only access but quality education. Improving the physical conditions of the education facilities forms part of that agenda.
By: Macalia Santos