Optimism in Government is high as reformative efforts are apace amidst some big and continuing changes made to the education system in Guyana; to improve the quality, choice and opportunities available to families.
So, noted Hon. Nicolette Henry, Minister of Education, during her remarks to the youth and stakeholders of Guyana’s Education system at the Education Day 2017 Rally hosted at D’Urban Park on Friday.
Braving the mid-morning sun in all its glory the Minister and officials of the Ministry led a band of over 3000 youth representing ‘in school’ as well as youth organisations, paraded to the sounds of infectious steel pan music from Parliament Buildings, along Brickdam and into the D’Urban Park arena.
There, amid celebratory applauses Minister Henry announced that her Government is looking forward to seeing earlier steps made to improve the education sector take some root during this academic year.
Hundreds of the nation’s ‘in school’ youth rallied for the cause of Education on Friday as the Government’s ‘seed of conspiracy for good’ as well as the promotion of wellness and quality education in communities, through the Ministry of Education began bearing fruit while chartering a holistic approach to health, education and happiness.
The event was a signature one in the calendar of events of the Ministry of Education that further solidified Education Month and ‘Education Day’, as integral to the nation’s Human Resource and by extension the Country.
Education Month, the first month of the new academic year, gives the Ministry of Education the time and opportunity to reach out to all stakeholders: teachers, students, parents and organisations and the general public.
During the rally Minister Henry spoke of the Government’s ambitions for the education system and noted that the focus is on quality education for every child and a good school for every family.”
The latter, Minister Henry said is far from cliché, but rather it is absolutely fundamental to creating an improved education system that helps every child to fulfill their potential to make Guyana a place where anyone who works hard can get ahead.
To get there, Minister Henry noted, Government needs to be innovative, schools need to step up to the challenge and, crucially, parents need to understand and be committed to their role in the partnership, supporting teachers, too.
Reflecting on the last academic year Minister Henry told those gathered that new things have been tried which saw government spending vast sums on improving education.
The minister noted that, “some things did get better which indicates that Education is clearly an area where money makes a difference.”
Among the big-ticket items were the commission of inquiry that provided the opportunity to listen to stakeholders through whom feedback was garnered to help strengthen strategies and systems.
Further, the Minister said, “We had the ‘grade six’ intervention that will be replicated and elements mainstreamed into this year’s programme.”
The Minister made clear the overarching priorities for the Ministry of Education and by extension the Government; such as reducing the disparity in education, by making sure all schools are working to the same high standard.
Further Minister Henry noted that the Government has, as a principal objective of its public policy, to strengthen the administration of the ten regions and to improve the delivery of education and other public services.
“As part of that policy, there will be the establishing of regional technical institutes to provide access to technical education for a greater number of the country’s young people,” Minister Henry announced.
Also listed by Minister Henry is the active plan to improve the ‘Quality of the education’, with continued, revised teaching methods and embracing the enhancement of Technology in the classroom.
Additionally, the minister noted that Government through her ministry is focused on ensuring that every child has access to quality education as a priority, “providing transport to get students to school is exemplified by His Excellency President Granger’s 5 B’s initiative that has commissioned buses, boats, and bicycles in both the hinterland and coastal communities.”
In concluding her remarks Minister Henry thanked every member of the education team and the staff that worked to put together the program for Friday’s activity and she was adamant that: “Every Child Matters” … “Promoting wellness in communities through Quality Education.”
Chief Education Officer Mr. Marcel Huston in his remarks dubbed the day as significant in the sense that stakeholders are making a statement of the necessity and importance of education.
He posited that Guyana’s progress as a nation can be no swifter than progress in education, and the human mind is the fundamental resource. “It is imperative that as a nation we provide every opportunity for the expansion and growth of this fundamental resource that will promote the development of our communities and by extension our nation. It is in this context the theme for Education Month this year was carefully chosen, that is, “Promoting Wellness in Communities through Quality Education”.
Noting that quality education is critical to the wellness of communities and the nation, Hutson defined Wellness as an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices towards a more successful existence. “Quality education therefore impacts wellness since it enables people to develop all of their attributes and skills to achieve their potential as human beings and members of society through the creation of an enabling environment.
Quality education is a human right and a public good and against this backdrop that the Ministry of Education has been working assiduously to ensure that the children from every part of Guyana including the hinterland, enjoy the best possible education.
Hutson said too that his ministry is constantly seeking ways to improve the quality of education delivered. In this regard, the focus has been on “Improving the Quality of Teacher Education, Aligning Teaching- learning Resources to Improve Students’ Outcomes, Improving Physical Facilities, Fostering Community Alliances, Strengthening Management and Supervision of the School System, Promoting Health and Family Education in Schools. So that students will be sensitive to the importance of making wise decisions in relation to their health and conduct and also Promoting sports and music in schools with a view of creating rounded students in our communities.
Cognizant also Hutson said is the special attention that must be given to schools in the hinterland in particular with a view of closing the gap in performance between such schools and those on the coast. “Our efforts have already begun to bear fruit as we have seen the performance of students at our recent National Grade 6 and CSEC results. All our efforts are, and will be based on our belief that quality education is one of the most basic public services. Our efforts are based on the belief that quality education does not only enlightens but also empowers citizens, and enables them to contribute to the maximum extent possible, to the social and economic development of their communities. We believe that we are on the verge of a magnificent turn around in our education sector,” Hutson declared.
However, a union of the school, home and community is critical to the development and sustainability to this process. In this regard Hutson expressed the belief that the development and sustainability of this process are dependent on the approach to leadership, which is, leadership that embraces vision, compassion, service and a recognition of human beings for who they are and what they are worth.
Saluting the hard-working educational officials, teachers, parents’ partners in UNICEF, UNESCO, CARICOM, the business community, and all other stakeholders’ CEO Hutson profoundly admonished a clarion call to “Let us continue to work together; together we can do the extraordinary!”
(Mondale Smith and Quenita Walrond-Lewis)
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