Guyana’s move to early childhood education gets international acclaim

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DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Guyana’s shift in emphasis towards pre-school education has been seen as a model for many other developing countries. This is according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Alice Albright.

Back in 2013, the government of Guyana, with support from the GPE developed a program for early childhood care and education aimed at strengthening the skills of teachers; improving teaching and learning materials; and training for parents and primary caregivers.

Research carried out by the education ministry had discovered that few children in remote communities were prepared for learning

According to Albright, Guyana is just one example of the huge shift in emphasis towards pre-school education in recent years.

She quoted Minister of Education Nicolette Henry saying, “a story of growth, a story of hope, and a story of encouragement, particularly for our most vulnerable and disadvantaged population.”

More than 8,000 children in remote areas of Guyana benefitted from the program. The GPE CEO said almost 90 percent of children now master reading and math skills compared to 37 percent in 2016.

She said for the first time, there is a global commitment on early learning in the UN-agreed Sustainable Development Goal for education, which specifically calls for children’s access to at least one year of quality pre-primary education.

GPE, the world’s only partnership and fund solely focused on education in developing countries, has invested about US$200 million in more than 35 partner developing countries to support early childhood care and education. However, the overall funding is still very low, despite the evidence that early learning better prepares children for primary school, improves their learning and reduces repetition and drop-out rates, thus making education systems more efficient.

Finally, it was noted that conflict is a major and growing impediment to early learning. Fewer than five percent of children in countries affected by conflict have access to pre-primary schooling.