Probe into state of local education system yielding quality contributions – Dr Roopnaraine
Georgetown, GINA, May 13, 2016
In an effort to review, revise, upgrade and extend the Education Sector’s Strategic Plan, Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine had launched a probe into the education system, to provide evidential basis for the plan’s revision.
The Commission of Inquiry (COI), set up to conduct this probe, has been employing several methodologies. These include holding public consultations where persons can make oral submissions on their perception of the state of the system, and receiving recommendations for its enhancement, via in camera and written submissions, as well as suggestions via email.
Recently, the Chairman of the COI, Ed Caesar along with Director of Culture and Technical Facilitator to the Ministry of Education, Vincent Alexander sat down with the Government Information Agency (GINA) and spoke on the roles and functions of the COI. They also reported that the consultation was yielding “quality contributions” for the enhancement of the education system.
Caesar told GINA that the work of the commission was drawing out many Guyanese who have the interest of the country’s education system at heart. “We have had persons who came and made presentations, and when you listen to them you recognised, we do have a number of people who have the interest of Guyana at heart, who care for the young people in this school system, and who want to see improvement,” Caesar said.
He noted that this was making the process a lot easier. “When we can have that kind of contribution throughout this country we will really be in a position to say … these are some of the things that have been found by the public to be excellent, these are some of the slippages that the public has identified, and these are some of the recommendations that they have made… what now should be the focus, what are the things we can improve, what are the things we can continue to support and what are the new things that must be there if we are going to continue to have an enhanced education sector,” the COI chairman explained.
Alexander said that someone spoke about corporal punishment at the first consultation and made the recommendation for the implementation of “a good counsel and guidance system.” He pointed out too that another person spoke of integration of technology into the system. “So we have had some concrete proposals so far.”
The Technical Facilitator to the Ministry of Education however, cautioned that these are proposals, “they are not yet recommendations coming out of the work of the commission.”
Education reform and COI
Alexander, in answering the question about how the COI fits into the broader education reform, referred to Minister Roopnaraine’s speech, during the 2016 Budget Debates. He noted that the Minister indicated that the Ministry is still in what he referred to as the diagnostic phase of the new regime, of determining what exactly needs to be fixed and how it will be fixed.
“I think, the COI fits into that scenario because the COI is the mechanism which is being used to interact with the stakeholders for them to help in the process of identifying what they consider to be the problems, the deficiencies, the shortfalls and also to indicate what they think could be the solutions,” he said.
He recalled that the Education Minister’s approach is that “what works should remain, what does not work should be changed and what can be fixed should be fixed.”
Alexander explained that the COI does have specific areas of concentration. He explained that the Commission, in addition to delivering a broad, multi-phase strategy framework for national education reform and development, is also expected to make recommendations on the use of technology in the education system. It is also projected to make recommendations on school management, curriculum reform, hinterland education reform, infrastructure, man power development, and community and school relationships.
Who can contribute to the COI?
The Ministry wants to hear from all stakeholders and welcomes the contributions from parents, the business community, teachers and administrative staff. To ensure that everyone is heard, Alexander explained that, “We are going to be doing them spatially; geographically… even as we look at individual organisations, we are also going to be looking at the geographic spread.”
Caesar added that this is all part of a process of ensuring that the needs of each of the education district and the different levels of education are met.
The Ministry is also targeting the input of the Private Sector Commission, the Guyana Teachers’ Union, the Guyana Teaching Service Commission and the University of Guyana (UG). Alexander explained that the Commission in fact is planning to have a joint consultation with UG and the Cyril Potter College of Education, even as it continues to provide opportunities for these levels of persons, and the general public to make written submissions, as well as for them to have in- camera sessions, where they do not have to make a public presentation, but instead meet with a sub- committee of the commission.
The COI project into the education system has a four- month duration.