DRAFT March 26, 1996
I. Basic Features of the Sector
A. Institutional and Regulatory Framework
B. The Educational System
II. Policies of the Sector
A. Past Evolution of Policies
B. Description of Current Policies
III. Description of the Principal Issues and Constraints Facing the Sector
A. Sector-wide Issues
B. Issues Specific to Levels of Education
IV. Sectoral Objectives
V. Policy Recommendations and Their Technical Justifications
A. Overall Policies for the Educational System
B. Policies Specific to Levels of Education
VI. Recommended Legislative Changes
A. Education Act (1876 Act)
B. Technical Vocational Education and Training
A review of the literature suggests that although Guyana's educational system was considered one of the best in the Caribbean during the 1960s, it is probably the weakest today. Learning in the schools, as measured by national and Caribbean-wide examinations, is extremely low. A large proportion of the teaching force is unqualified and untrained, absenteeism on the part of both teachers and students is all too common in the system, and textbooks and other teaching aids are often unavailable. Guyana's success in achieving universal access to primary school in the early 1970s appears to be eroding and is accompanied by rising repetition and dropout rates. Educational subsidies, which tend to be regressive, further exacerbate these problems, favoring wealthy rather than poor children and tertiary rather than primary education.
The decline of the educational system reflects, mainly, the decreasing resources available in the sector. The proportion of GDP allocated to education has declined sharply over the past decade and is now well below that in other Caribbean countries. Nevertheless, there is considerable scope for increasing the effectiveness of the funds expended, especially at the secondary and tertiary levels.
It is within this context that the following issues have emerged on the education and training agenda and have received prominent attention, especially over the last decade.
Declining coverage of the educational system, particularly at the secondary levels.
Dominance of the educational system by the examination process (SSEE, SSPE, NFFAT, CXC). It therefore runs the risk of merely providing students with a capacity to write examinations and not think critically for the world of work.
Expenditure patterns that favour secondary and tertiary education, when the priorities should emphasise primary education.
Excessive emphasis in the secondary level on elite education, with a disproportionate amount of funding going to one school and to subsidise the costs of CXC examinations.
Low quality and rapid turnover of educational facilitators (i.e., teachers, lecturers, instructors).
Overcrowding in some schools and lack of non-teacher inputs, such as school furniture, textbooks, equipment. According to the recent Living Standards Measurement Survey, over half the students attend schools in which there are no textbooks.
The increasing failure of the educational system to attract students (as measured by class attendance).
The questionable relevance of the curriculum throughout the educational system in preparing students for the Guyanese job market.
Large regional differences in the availability and condition of the physical infrastructure and quality of educational inputs.
The emergence of increasing inequities in access to education, in the form of a growing parallel fee-paying system of delivery of education at all levels.
As a result of these various factors, a student entering primary school now has only a 4 percent chance of reaching university.
Faced with this situation, the current administration has set itself "To provide equal access to all Guyanese children and young people to quality education." Achieving this goal requires a focus on fundamental policy reforms, which are discussed in this document, as well as on the issues that are peculiar to each level within the educational system.
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In 1976, a decision was taken to transfer all responsibilities for education to the public sector. All private schools were absorbed into the public system and Government undertook to subsidise education from nursery through university fully, including the costs of textbooks, exercise books, and writing materials. At all institutional levels, the imposition of fees or any other cost-recovery measures was strictly prohibited. This policy was relaxed in 1992 in the face of budgetary austerity. However, to date, all formal education continues to be funded by the Government Treasury.
Guyana's educational system closely resembles those of the other Caribbean countries, except that some countries, like Jamaica, allow a student options to get back on to an academic track at a later stage in his or her schooling. The system includes (non-compulsory) preschool, six years of primary school, four to six years of secondary school, and between three and four years of higher academic or practical education. Schooling is mandatory up to age fourteen and one half years.(1)
This means that the average student is required to complete the full primary course plus two years of secondary education. The statutory age for entering school is five years nine months, and students are usually expected to remain in the school system until age sixteen. Individuals who may have left the school system with low scores or no qualifications have an opportunity to participate in a limited number of adult education courses offered by the University of Guyana, Institute of Adult and Continuing Education (IACE), or the Adult Education Association.
With the introduction of the regional system in 1980, a greater element of decentralisation was introduced into the educational system. As early as 1985, the ten Regional Democratic Councils assumed much of the responsibility for the provision of education, in that they were given the mandate to:
construct and maintain schools in their jurisdictions
allocate resources among schools
recruit and pay teachers(2)
ensure that schools operate according to regional and national objectives
The central Ministry retained responsibility for:
monitoring educational indicators across the regions
ensuring that there are no significant disparities in the quality of education across regions
procuring and delivering textbooks to all schools
coordinating and administering the main primary and secondary school examinations
providing support services to the schools in Georgetown
controlling the operations of most of the institutions of higher education, including the post-secondary schools, technical and agricultural institutes, and the Teachers' Training Institute
The University of Guyana is autonomous and receives the bulk of its funds directly from the Ministry of Finance.
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The educational system has four basic levels: nursery (the only level that is noncompulsory), primary, secondary, and post-secondary. Table 20-1 below shows the educational levels, the applicable age group, and the equivalent grades.
In total there are 894 schools in Guyana. Table 20-2 below presents the distribution of this total by level and region.
The most recent information from the Ministry of Education (1993-1994) shows that the number of teachers in Guyana is 7,453. Table 20-3 below presents the distribution of teachers by gender and level. There exists a female dominance in the teaching staff at every level.
Educational system: Levels/Grades/Age Groups
|Nursery||3 years 9 months to 5 years 9 months||-|
|Primary||5 years 8 months to 11 years 9 months||1 - 6|
|General Secondary||12 years to 18 years||7 - 12|
|Community High||12 years to 17 years||7 - 10|
|Primary with Secondary Departments||12 years to 17 years||7 - 10|
|Post-secondary||15 years and over||-|
Distribution of Schools by Level and Region
Source: Ministry of Education, December 1994.
Distribution of Teachers by Gender and Schooling Level
Source: Ministry of Education, December 1994.
1. The Nursery Level
Of the 363 nursery schools, more than 200 are found in rural areas. Children are admitted at 3 years 9 months and may remain in the system for 2 years. Although nursery education is noncompulsory, the coverage has always been consistently high (above 70 percent) and continues to increase. More than 44 percent of nursery school teachers are trained but more than 80 percent of these schools are not housed in purpose-built buildings. Data on the qualifications of nursery school teachers are presented in Table 20-4.
2. The Primary Level
Primary education is compulsory. It commences at 5 years 9 months and continues for 6 years. In practice, participation rates are below what they should be. There are few data on participation rates (net enrollment rates), and the true situation is masked by the fact that many children register at the beginning of the school year, and then cease attending not long afterward. It has been estimated that, as of 1994, only 68 percent of the corresponding population of school age was attending primary school, and that the corresponding ratio is almost as low as 50 percent in some regions. In large part as a result of this situation, studies have shown that functional literacy in Guyana is low at present.
At this level, there are approximately 420 schools and 3,746 teachers. Table 20-5 presents the total number of teachers at this level by gender and region. Pupil/teacher ratios range from 35:1 to 40:1. However, while this index might be deemed satisfactory, it is undermined by teacher absenteeism, which has become a major problem. Also, there has been a steady decline in the number of trained teachers. By way of example, whereas in 1985-1986 some 77 percent of the teachers at this level were trained, by 1991-1992 only 60 percent were. As one would expect, this shortage of trained teachers is more pronounced in the hinterland regions. All indications are that more than half of the primary school teachers in these regions are untrained.
3. The Secondary Level
There are three categories of schools at the secondary level: General Secondary, Community High, and the Primary Schools with a Secondary Department. There are 98 schools at this level, with the greatest density being in Regions 4, 5, and 6. Generally, all Secondary Schools lack educational equipment and materials and they are in need of major rehabilitation.
Community High Schools and Primary Schools with Secondary Departments offer a 4-year programme that mixes academic, pre-vocational, and occupational training. General Secondary Schools offer a 5-year academically oriented programme that culminates in students sitting the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Examinations and/or the General Certificate of Education (London) Ordinary Level (GCE 'O' Level) Examinations. Students who perform well at these examinations have an opportunity to pursue studies for the GCE Advanced ("A" Level) Examinations.
The secondary school enrollment rate of 55 percent is slightly higher than those in the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America, where the rate tends to be around 50 percent, but still 55 percent cannot be satisfactory. There has been a steady decline in the number of trained teachers at this level. As an example, whereas in 1985-1986 some 67.5 percent of these teachers were trained, by 1991-1992 the percentage had fallen to 61 percent as many trained teachers have either emigrated or moved into the private sector. The central grievances of those who departed were low salaries and poor working conditions. Tables 20-6 and 20-7 present an analysis of the teachers at this level, by gender, region, and qualification, for the academic year 1993-1994.
4. The Post-secondary Level
Post-secondary education is provided by:
a. The University of Guyana
The University of Guyana offers courses leading to first degree in the Faculties of Agriculture, Arts, Natural Sciences, Medical Sciences, Education, and Technology. In addition, to these programmes, several diploma and certificate courses are conducted in the fields of Public Administration, Personnel Management and Public Communication. There are also two Graduate Diploma programmes, one in Education and the other in Development Studies. At the moment, programmes leading to the Master's degree are offered in Guyanese History, Political Science, Chemistry, and Geography.
b. The Cyril Potter College of Education
The Teacher Training Programme falls into two categories:
i) In-service training for teachers already in the service
- Nursery teachers training programme (two years)
- In-service primary teachers training programme (two years)
ii) Pre-service training for individuals intending to make teaching a career.
- Primary teacher training (two years)
- Secondary teacher training (three years)
Training for teachers within Georgetown and its environs is provided at the Cyril Potter College of Education complex.
c. Technical and vocational training education
A network of technical and vocational training institutions offers a range of training programmes. These institutions include:
(i) The Georgetown Technical and New Amsterdam Technical Institutes
They offer courses at two levels: craft and technician. Craft courses cover a wide scope and include carpentry, plumbing, welding, and bricklaying. The courses offered for technicians are mechanical and electrical engineering, building and civil engineering, surveying, and telecommunications. The technical institutes also offer courses in commerce and secretarial science, at certificate and diploma levels.
(ii) Guyana Industrial Training Centre
This centre offers accelerated training courses of not more than 48 weeks' duration in six craft disciplines: carpentry, electricity, agriculture, mechanics, masonry, welding, and plumbing.
(iii) The Carnegie School of Home Economics
This school provides full-time courses in household management and catering. The students may write external examinations, e.g., CXC, in needlecraft and in food and nutrition. Evening classes for adults and a variety of home management and craft skills are taught.
(iv) The Guyana School of Agriculture
This institution offers courses leading to a Certificate or Diploma in Agriculture. The syllabus includes natural science subjects, economics, and the practical aspects of crop farming and animal science. On graduation, the students are equipped to be teachers of agriculture, foremen, extension workers, and agricultural field assistants. Diploma students are eligible for entry into the University of Guyana.
d. Alternative education
The following institutions make significant contributions to education but operate outside the formal educational system.
(i) The Board of Industrial Training (BIT)
Under the aegis of the Ministry of Labour, it is responsible for the apprenticeship and in-plant skills training and carries out its mandate through the official technical and vocational schools and approved industrial training institutions.
(ii) The Private Aircraft Owners Association.
It is an NGO which operates a training centre for pilots and aircraft engineers. The World Aircraft Association accredits their programme.
(iii) GUYSUCO, LINMINE, BERMINE, GNEC, GEC and several other large and medium sized industrial companies have also established industrial training centres to develop skilled workers in their specific areas.
5. Parallel System of Education
During the last decade what can be described as a parallel system has developed alongside the formal Ministry-controlled system of education. Naturally, both because of its nature and because no serious analysis of it has yet been done, there are few, if any, quantifiable data available.
The parallel system developed initially as a response to the perceived shortcomings of the educational system per se, as parents began to experience anxiety about whether their children would be successful at the SSEE, given problems like the overcrowding in primary schools, the low proportion of trained teachers and frequent teacher absences. Pressure from parents, in the form of requests to teachers with good track records for private coaching for their children, coupled with the enormous economic difficulties faced by the teachers themselves, soon led to a growing pattern of "after school lessons." It has been argued that some effects of this are:
what is learned in school has become even less important;
teachers are often less concerned about their classroom teaching than about the private tuition;
children who do not attend such lessons are at a disadvantage by comparison with their peers when they take the examination;
the tiredness they feel after spending hours at extra lessons results in apathy or absenteeism from school;
the tendency for children to avoid essential curricular activities such as sports and cultural events, and concentrate on examination activities, is reinforced;
the examination syndrome is reinforced.
A similar system has developed at all critical points in the educational system, especially in preparation for NFFAT, CXC, and GCE 'O' and GCE 'A' Level examinations, to the extent that whereas initially these were private lessons given almost individually, now there exists what is almost a full network of parallel schools.
6. Private Vocational Schools
Over the last decade there has been a proliferation of private schools in computing, accountancy and business, electronics and mechanics. These institutions fall outside the current scope of the MOE's mandate. That apart, the amount of resources required to monitor, evaluate and regulate these institutions would only serve to increase the strain on the already depleted educational resources.
7. The Role of Non-governmental Organisations
Many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are involved in education, including various churches, parent associations, community groups, and firms.
Very little information exists regarding the contribution made by the NGOs to the running of schools in Guyana. What is clear, however, is that the level of financial, material, and human resources being transferred into the educational system by NGOs has increased dramatically since the mid 1980s. Such contributions include:
- construction of schools, donation of land, materials, labour, and funds;
- provision of security services;
- repairs to fencing, building, residences;
- donation of books,
- provision of furniture and equipment;
- educational training;
- provision of transport for school functions;
- free use of facilities for school functions;
- supervision (or even teaching) of students during school hours.
The above list is not exhaustive, but it does show the dimensions of the contributions made by NGOs. Undoubtedly, these resources represent a welcome addition to the resources allocated to those schools for non-salary recurrent expenditures, especially since they are outside the control of the Ministry. They do, however, create some problems. First, they obscure, even if only marginally, the magnitude of the resource problems facing the system. Second, inevitably those schools with a greater proportion of their students coming from the more affluent sections of the society benefit more than those with more disadvantaged students. Thus social inequalities are brought into the school system in yet another way.
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In 1976, a decision was taken to transfer all responsibilities for education to the public sector. All private schools were absorbed into the public system and Government undertook fully to subsidise education from nursery through university, including the costs of textbooks, exercise books, and writing materials. At all institutional levels, the imposition of fees or any other cost-recovery measures was strictly prohibited. This policy was relaxed in 1992 in the face of budgetary austerity. However, to date, all formal education continues to be funded by the Government Treasury. Over this period, there were no changes of significance in the structure of the educational system or in teacher training.
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Educational policies have remained relatively unchanged over the last three decades. However, the current attempts at cost recovery, especially at the tertiary level, do stand out as a significant change in recent times.
The primary objectives of current educational policy have been:
1. Improving equality of access to education through:
enhancement of physical plants;
expansion of education services in general and in particular for children with special needs;
collaboration with other government agencies, NGOs and community-based organisations;
reformation and upgrading of the legal and regulatory framework of the system.
The broad intention has been to provide the means whereby everyone has the opportunity to participate in the educational services provided. Focus is intended to be placed on improving, not only geographical, but socio-economic accessibility. Initial teacher training and technical services and vocational facilities especially to hinterland regions, are to be expanded. Much effort will also be channeled toward the enhancement and expansion of educational services to children with special needs. That apart, several critical issues of a regulatory and legislative nature must be addressed in order to make government's policies enforceable.
2. To make curriculum more demand-driven rather than supply-pushed by:
facilitating the acquisition of life skills by young people through the continuous review and updating of the present curriculum inclusive of its evaluation process at all levels of the system;
improving the quantity and quality of instructional material and facilities at all levels.
The goal is to make the curriculum more flexible and relevant to the needs of the society and the demands of the labour market. Also, the aim is to facilitate the acquisition of those skills, knowledge, attitudes, and values that will enable all citizens to contribute meaningfully to national development. The focus is intended to be on improving students' performance through a variety of new approaches to the teaching-learning process, including the acquisition of skills in the management of sensitive issues in that process, since they are skills that can be applied to other situations later in life.
3. To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the system through the strengthening of the managerial, administrative, and supervisory capacities of the system. In particular, the focus here is on efficient management of all resources through strategic planning, establishment of reliable data bases, development of procedural manuals for managers at all levels of the system, and the professionalisation of education at the school level.
4. To provide a well-trained and qualified cadre of educational personnel through:
expansion of current in-service teacher training centres,
use of the training methodology of distance education to upgrade the quality and increase the number of teachers in the hinterland and deep-riverains,
re-institution of career path development for all teachers and administrators in the system by the institutionalisation of on-the-job training an enhancement of work conditions.
5. To cultivate and strengthen community alliances with the aim of establishing and maintaining effective relationships with the local and extra-local communities, for the express purpose of mobilising the requisite resources to complement current budgetary allocations.
Attempts have been made to strengthen partnerships with community action groups, the private and business community, and religious and secular organisations. This would allow for the expansion of school programmes, greater security of buildings, better management of educational assets in the community, and in general the undertaking of joint efforts in the pursuit of quality education.
6. On the fiscal side, the share of the Central Government's budget that is allocated to education has been increased in recent years, but it still falls considerably short of norms for all developing countries and for the Latin America and Caribbean region. As part of the greater emphasis on education, teachers were granted an exceptional salary increase in 1994.
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This section describes the principal issues that affect the functioning of the educational system at all levels, from nursery to tertiary education.
1. Financing of Education
The enviable reputation established by Guyana in the 1960s as having one of the best educational systems in the Caribbean was based in large measure on a system of private and public schools, and payment of tuition fees.
Even in the Government-owned secondary schools at the time, fees had to be paid by non-scholarship holders, albeit these were not set on a full cost-recovery basis. In the privately owned schools even at the primary level, fees were paid.
After all schools were brought under State control in 1976, fees were abolished for all levels of education. Shortly thereafter, both the quality of and access to education began to suffer. During this period two developments occurred. First, education came to be viewed as a public good, with public entitlement to it, free of charge. Second, due to financial stringency, there was a steady reduction of the ability of the Government to meet growing public expectations for full access to education at all levels that was free and high in quality. Declining public financial allocation since the late 1970s have caused both quality and accessibility to seriously slip.
Developing countries' expenditure on education as a share of total Central Government expenditure in the 1989-1992 period are illustrated in the following data:
Middle East 14.3%
Western Hemisphere 13.9%
Global average 13.0%
(Source, except for Guyana: World Bank, Latvia Public Expenditure Review, 1994.)
In 1994, the corresponding figure for Guyana had improved slightly to 5.8 percent(3)
, still far short of norms for the hemisphere and the world.
2. Balance Between Different Levels of Education
Studies in many countries have demonstrated that the returns to the nation are greatest from investments in primary education, yet data from a recent year show that public expenditures on education in Guyana were running at US$26 per primary student, US$54 per secondary student, and US$858 per university student. Strenuous efforts are needed to redirect spending patterns so that a greater priority is accorded to primary education, emphasising the outlying regions as much as the capital city and its environs.
3. Excessive Concentration on Elite Education
Over one-quarter of current resources for secondary education is allocated to one school (President's College) and to subsidies for the CXC examination. The CXC examinations are taken by only about 5 percent of the 15-19 age cohort. President's College has a student-teacher ratio of only 8.8:1, and it is attended by only about 2 percent of secondary school students. Therefore, recent patterns in educational spending show a distinct bias in favor of the students who are academically more advanced, many of whom come from families that are capable of defraying part of the cost of their children's education.
This phenomenon is part of a larger syndrome in which educational expenditures do not contain an element of targeting on the most needy students. It must be recognised that provision of free education amounts to a fiscal subsidy. Although it is a very important subsidy from all viewpoints it does not necessarily follow that it should be conferred in equal measure on students from all levels of family wealth. Better targeting of educational expenditures in this sense would enable the existing levels of funding to be more effectively used for raising the quality of education.
4. Inequities in Access to Education
On a regional basis, there are wide variations in spending per pupil, as illustrated by the range from US$31 per pupil in Regions 5 and 6 to US$136 per pupil in Region 8, in a recent year. For the most part, these regional inequalities imply that Amerindian children, and also non-Amerindians of the rural hinterland, are given relatively less attention by the school system. The problem is exacerbated by higher rates of absenteeism on the part of teachers in hinterland areas.
An inequitable pattern is emerging in another sense in that families who are able to afford the cost of private tutoring increasingly have recourse to that option. Families of the lower-income strata are unable to provide this benefit, and so their children become disadvantaged educationally.
5. Quality of Education
In the review of specific issues discussed in this section, it needs to be borne in mind that the overriding concern at the level of the entire educational sector is for improving the quality of education, i.e., improve the process by which children and youths learn. Making such improvement will require an array of measures, ranging from improvements in salaries and training for teachers to curricular changes and improvements in physical plant, and to promotion of greater community involvement in schools, each of which is discussed in turn, but this central concern should not be lost sight of.
6. Gender Sensitivity
Issues of gender sensitivity are present at all levels of education in Guyana. For example, few female students specialise in the areas of science and technology, despite the fact that boys and girls are required to be involved in all subject areas up to Form 3 (Grade 9).
The large drop-out rate of male students could be related to the fact that there is an overwhelming majority of females in the teaching profession. Due to the fact that males and females have different learning styles, approaches that take these differences into account need to be developed.
7. Administration of Education
The programmes finally implemented by the Regional Administration sometimes deviate significantly from the plans and programme of activities initially set by the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Regional Education Department. The lack of current baseline data grossly affects the planning process. Definite and systematic budgetary monitoring procedures should be instituted to ensure both the direction and magnitude of the annual expenditure by education level and region.
Apparent gaps of administrative logic in the current structure of the relationships between the Central Ministry, the Regional Education Department, and Regional Democratic Councils, are putting to test the capacity of the educational system to effectively absorb the recent surges of capital and technical assistance inflows from bilateral and multilateral agencies.
Also, planning at the regional level must of necessity include those officials serving in the respective communities.
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1. Pre-school Children Care
The demand for day care and play school facilities in terms of formal request has risen significantly, particularly in Georgetown and arguably in other urban centres. While the problem may not be as acute in the rural areas, hard data to base any type of planning of facilities are scarce to come by.
Furthermore, the provision of day care and play school facilities is not within the competence of the Ministry of Education. However, there is a logical link between the day care and the play school systems on one hand, and the formal schooling system on the other, particularly at the entry level of nursery education. Given this nexus, all concerned stand to gain by at least exchanging views and reaching broad agreements on the relationships between the two, in order to ease the transition from one stage to the other and to enhance the level of comfort of the new entrants into the schooling system.
2. Nursery Level Education
The two-year programme at the nursery level is designed to provide young children with a learning environment that will facilitate their physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development, as well as the development of basic skills and desirable attitudes to learning.
However, its curriculum is quite inadequate in its attempt to address the more sensitive issues of life. It also falls short of permitting pupils to validate themselves in the context of the peculiar behaviourial expectations that are rooted in the norms, values, and mores of the various sub-cultures in the society. For example, the majority of Guyanese children speak home languages that are different from the official language of the country, and unless this fact is recognised, the literacy and language problems which characterises our school-age children at present will continue.
A primary concern is the inadequacy of the learning environment at this first level in the rung of the educational ladder. It is evident that existing facilities -except in the private sector- are highly unsatisfactory. Few schools are purpose-built to reflect nursery school activities under tropical conditions. Many schools are damp, easily flooded, unsanitary, lacking in furniture and material resources, and manned by inadequately trained staff. Far too often rented bottom houses and dilapidated community buildings are defined as nursery schools. While proper profiles on these facilities are lacking, it is recognised that the situation is even more acute in the hinterland and riverain areas.
Overcrowding exists, especially in Georgetown schools, due to parents' requests that children should be placed in schools near to their place of work rather than home, and due to parents' perception that some nursery schools are linked to "good" primary schools.
The Government's school feeding programme, supported by the World Food Programme, is not fully accessed, particularly in areas where nutritional deficiency is more pronounced. Forty percent of the children in this category have no access to vital supplements. The percentage can be as high as 60 percent in the riverain and hinterland areas.
3. Primary Level Education
The schools with successful track records are experiencing a growing overcrowding, while the ones with poor records are underpopulated. This has created gross imbalances in the demand and supply of the educational facilities. The persistence of this gross imbalance is based on the parents' and pupils' perceptions of the performance or non-performance of individual schools as measured by SSEE. It may be questioned whether the SSEE should be retained. A more effective substitute would be a system of continuous student assessment and performance norms for each grade level.
Because of the pivotal role of primary education in regard to eventual access to higher education, and subsequently to the job market, access to primary education has been identified as critical to poor families, indigenous peoples, and marginal workers. As noted above, State funding for education has failed in the past to reflect the priority of primary education. In most developing countries, primary education accounts for 40 to 50 percent of total spending on education, but in Guyana that share has been running at about 27 percent.
The apparent wide ranging differences in the curriculum offered at various primary schools throughout the system also is a source of much concern.
Other basic concerns at this level are the need for increased instructional time, the need to promote more faithful attendance by pupils, the need for improved provision of instructional materials, the need to improve facilities, and the need for greater parental and community involvement in the schools. Head teachers should be given training regarding the relationship between school and community.
4. Secondary Level Education
Given the three-part structure of the secondary programme and the use of the SSEE to screen students entering from the primary level, over 50 percent of the nation's eleven year olds are directed into schools with programmes of shorter duration than the GSS, which have a majority of under-qualified and untrained teachers, poor buildings and learning environment. In this respect, a strategic concern that merits review is the present structure under which a child's education fate is sealed at the end of primary school, when the examination results determine whether his or her future track will be academic or vocational. Jamaica has already begun to modify that rigid system, allowing for a child to reenter the academic track in secondary school. Given that there are "late bloomers" in any system, the present structure may be shunting aside potential academic talent.
A growing number of students, especially boys in the secondary department of the primary programme and the CHS, are dropping out by grade 9 (before the completion of basic education).
A secondary school curriculum, and general methodology are driven by the examination process and not by an overriding concern to stimulate and encourage critical thinking and optimise assimilation of material. As a consequence, the evaluation mechanism which monitors the reliability and consistency of the teaching-learning process has been deficient.
The persistent shortage of secondary school teachers has created a situation whereby half of the secondary school teaching staff is employed on a part-time basis. Although salaries were increased in 1994, conditions of service remain uncompetitive with respect to the packages offered by the local private sector and opportunities abroad. The net result is an increase of the syndrome of extra-curricular lessons throughout Guyana. This phenomenon partly explains the poor response of pupils to both co- and extra-curricular activities planned by the management of schools.
The core curriculum, in these days of globalisation and informatics, fails to provide students with basic computer literacy and foreign language competence.
Other key issues are similar to those of the primary schools: The need for greater parent and community involvement, for rehabilitation of facilities, and provision of better instructional materials.
5. Training of Teachers
Teachers' training is presently conducted at the specialist institution, the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and at the Faculty of Education in the University of Guyana (FEUG). While the primary role of the CPCE is on training, that of the FEUG goes beyond initial training into teachers' education more generally. These two institutions, however, work closely with each other, aided by the oversight function of the Ministry of Education.
The hinterland teachers training programme should be reviewed to include more pedagogical and "whole person" training. Also, all programmes should benefit from close coordination and links with the University, and CPCE's role as moderator in certifying teachers should be clarified and reinforced. At present, there are no distance training programmes; they would be especially helpful for teachers in the hinterland but for others as well.
Some provision should be made to licence those teachers who have obtained their training at institutions other than CPCE and/or FEUG.
The lack of adequate number of suitably qualified applicants has caused the CPCE and the Faculty of Education to lower their entry requirements. The high demand for graduates from these institutions has often permitted graduates to be recruited to teach at higher levels in the system than that for which they were trained.
With regard to the Inspectorate, a common instrument should be developed for the assessment of teachers, which could be integrated into the strategies for teachers' training. The Inspectorate should be given enough resources to fund its full complement of specialists, since it has a particularly important role with respect to both teachers' assessments and the improvement of curriculum at classroom level.
Educational priorities should be taken into account in light of the present financial constraints and the increased tendency of the Ministry of Finance to manage line ministries in their attempt to perform the responsibilities for overall resource coordination and management.
Teachers' training is relatively costly to Government because of the low student-teacher ratio and the fact that it is extensively subsidised. A priority must be to improve its cost-effectiveness. As well as using methods of distance education, other steps can be taken, such as shortening the programmes and increasing their variety and frequency.
6. University Education
The University of Guyana is currently in crisis, which is the cumulative result of many years of inattention to physical plant and deterioration of the quality of instruction. The university needs to mobilise more financial resources and improve the management of its existing resources. In other words, the university needs to improve its capacity for financial management and to increase its cost effectiveness, although the intensity of this latter need varies by faculty.
The university records highlight a strong student bias to enroll for the social sciences and the arts and avoid technology and natural sciences. Given the current demand for engineers and technicians, it is critical to raise the enrollment in these latter areas either directly at the University or indirectly in special contractual arrangements.
Another important issue in university education is the lack of alternatives in Guyana. Some countries in the region have encouraged North American universities to establish small branches in those countries, in some cases with undergraduate programmes and in other cases with specialised masters' programmes. Malaysia has taken a similar step recently. In this way the offerings of the national university are complemented and the student has wider range of choices without incurring the expense of traveling abroad.
7. Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
Given that it is the private sector which requires the occupational skills generated through TVET, it has a legitimate role in its financing and management and also, eventually, in providing it. A few industries now provide their own training programmes, but they are primarily for a narrow range of skills needed by those industries. In general, the quality of TVET and its responsiveness to labour demand conditions need to be improved. Chapter 35 of this National Development Strategy presents policies for increasing the financing of TVET, mainly via a small payroll tax, and for increasing the involvement of both labour and the business sector, through the establishment of a tripartite council to manage those funds.
Specific situations at the earlier levels of education, for example, arbitrary and incorrect allocation to subjects by gender, frequently work against female students entering the field of technical education. A distinction needs to be made between life skills courses and vocational offerings, as for instance, home economics. The current approach discourages students from acquiring such life skills which would contribute to their self sufficiency and future role as parents. A UNESCO funded project at Lodge and Ruimveldt Community Secondary Schools addressed this situation by placing effective female teachers to instruct on applied, technical subjects, thus altering the stereotypical role model.
8. Special Needs Education
The term special needs is used to refer to slow learners and children with learning disabilities, emotional learning difficulties, and physical handicaps. Presently in Guyana there are three schools dedicated to children with special needs. These are: David Rose School, Saint Barnabas School, and the Sophia Special School. Four other schools have a classroom dedicated to children with special needs. One is at Saint Roses High School, and it caters to the blind. The other three are the South Ruimveldt Park Primary School, Diamond Primary School, and the New Amsterdam Primary School. These facilities are meant to respond to all levels of children with disabilities.
A Committee within the Ministry of Education, chaired by the Principal of the David Rose School, deals with all matters relating to curriculum and physical facilities, in conjunction with the Planning Department.
Considering the limited physical facilities available, it could be presumed that most special needs children are either in regular schools or at home, and thus their special education needs are unmet in the educational system of today. For some of them, the mainstream schools contribute more to the destruction of their self esteem and to their feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, than to literacy and numeracy.
9. Adult Literacy Programmes
As a consequence of the decline of educational standards in recent decades, there is now a significant number of adults who are illiterate, or at least not functionally literate. There has not been enough emphasis on adult literacy campaigns, in order to enable these persons to participate more fully in our society.
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1. General Constraints
a. In spite of an upward trend in recent years, budgetary allocations to education still are far from adequate. As noted in the preceding section, the share of the Central Government budget devoted to education is less than half of the corresponding average for all developing countries. Although there is room for improvement in the efficiency of expenditures in the sector, this budgetary circumstance leads to many deficiencies, including teachers' salaries that in general are too low to attract and retain the most qualified staff, an insufficiency of instructional equipment and materials, absenteeism of teachers, deteriorated physical plants, etc.(4)
b. The tradition, for the past twenty years, of relying exclusively on the public sector to provide education has meant the country has foregone opportunities for the private sector to participate in providing it efficiently and to high standards, as it once did.
c. The levels of training for many of the teachers are inadequate, especially in the hinterland regions.
d. The relative lack of amenities in many hinterland areas makes it more difficult to recruit teachers for those posts.
e. There has not been a strong tradition of involvement in the schools by parents and communities, although there has been an increasing trend in this regard. Experience worldwide has shown that such involvement tends to raise the quality of instruction, reduce student absenteeism, help improve the condition of physical plant, and assist in identifying supplementary sources of financing for schools.
f. There is an overwhelming majority of females in the teaching profession, and hence a relative lack of role models for boys.
g. There is no systematic socio-economic information about students' families.
2. Constraints Specific to Levels of Schooling and Functions
In addition to the aforementioned general constraints, which affect education at all levels, there are a number of additional constraints which are specific to each level. They are as follows:
a. In the administration of education:
i) Shortage of skilled manpower
ii) Poor conditions of service
iii) Inadequate centre and regional interface
iv) Poor communication facilities
v) Inadequate data to monitor budget, enrollments, and school and teacher performance
vi) Poor regional department/school interface
b. Regarding pre-school care of children, the provision of day care and play school facilities is not within the competence of the Minister of Education.
c. In nursery level education:
i) There is a persistence on the part of some teachers and many parents to present the curriculum in a subject-centred mode.
ii) The lack of data in the Ministry of Education on the demand for nursery schools, by region, is a major constraint to the planning and development of additional facilities.
d. In primary education:
i) A significant number of teachers have no curriculum guide to follow while others only have limited access to these basic support documents.
ii) The curriculum is dominated by the drive to prepare the students for the SSEE and even this is at times done without a curriculum guide.
iii) In many instances, educational programmes are not articulated to facilitate smooth transitions, both at the nursery input level and the later secondary output levels.
iv) Not enough teaching is being done in most classrooms, and teachers are overloaded with clerical work.
v) Funding at this level is exceptionally low, well below that of other Caribbean countries on a per-pupil basis.
e. In secondary education:
i) Lack of instructional supervision for teaching staff and relatively poor quality in the administration of the system at this level.
ii) Lack of structural and regular staff development programmes for both teaching staff and regional supervisory officers.
iii) The condition of the physical plants is poor and there is persistent shortage of equipment (science, audio visual, technical, and sports equipment), and textbooks, library books, and teaching aids, especially in the CHS and the secondary departments of primary schools.
iv) The distribution of secondary level funding is clearly skewed to subsidising the CXC examination and President's College, leaving even fewer funds per student for the other schools.
f. In teachers' training:
i) Large unsatisfied backlog of needs for teachers' training, in order to bring the quality of present staffs up to acceptable standards.
ii) Lack of coordination of effort between CPCE, NCERD, the Education Faculty of the University of Guyana, and IACE in the preparation of teachers for the educational system.
iii) Poor conditions of service (including salaries) for teachers' educators, and a shortage of trained teachers' educators.
iv) Shortage of full-time staff at CPCE and at the in-service centres.
v) Inadequate focus on the impact of sensitive issues on the development of children in the curriculum of teacher's training.
vi) Absence of continuous evaluation of teacher training programmes.
g. At the University of Guyana:
i) Student-teacher ratios that are very low in some faculties, raising the unit costs of instruction.
ii) Weak capacity in financial management in the university's administration.
iii) Although salaries have improved, they still remain less attractive than private sector salaries. Many lecturers have been forced to pursue outside opportunities at the expense of their students.
iv) An observed decline in the quality of the first-year students entering the University over the last decade, which has caused growing concern.
h. In technical vocational education and training:
i) Insufficient volume of TVET in relation to the growing needs of industry and commerce.
ii) TVET curriculums that are not fully attuned to the requirements of employers.
iii) Lack of mechanisms for wider private sector participation in funding the costs of TVET.
i. In special needs education:
i) Adequate provisions have not been made in the existing schooling system for children with special needs.
ii) There are insufficient data on the total numbers, spatial distribution, school levels, classification of special needs children in the system. Some research is being done by the Community Based Rehabilitation Programme on these issues, but the results are not available yet.
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In reviewing the evolution of educational policy in Guyana, emphasis should be put on the importance of pursuing a more radical approach to arrest any further decay of the current educational system and its outputs. In this regard, reference is made to two international meetings of immense importance to the development of the education sector as a whole, an children in particular. The first is the 1990 World Summit for Children, held in September 1990. Seventy-one heads of State met under the auspices of UNICEF and agreed to seek substantial improvements in the situation of women and children by the year 2000. With this goal in mind Guyana has determined to focus on:
the integration of children with special needs into family and community life,
placement of violence against children on the public agenda,
improving the quality of life for children in especially difficult circumstances, and
the establishment and maintenance of national data bases on these issues.
The National Plan of Action developed to meet the specific needs of Guyana's children sets itself to:
implement among others, programmes for the generation of employment and income in the poorest rural and urban areas, and promote a culture of respect for human rights, especially the rights of children;
review our legislation and legal statutes and establish judicial procedures in support of the rights of children and women;
institutionalise the National Plan of Action for Children, incorporating the objectives, strategies, and indicators in national development plans and policies.
More specifically, the NPA's goals within the education sector are as follows:
improve the quality of service provided to children in day care centres and to provide access to day care services appropriate to identified needs;
make nursery education available and accessible to all children from age 3 years and 6 months;
ensure access to quality primary education in an appropriate learning environment for all children;
provide access to relevant secondary education to all primary school graduates;
promote literacy and numeracy programmes for early school leavers and those who have already passed through the school system without acquiring adequate language skills; and
strengthen community alliances.
The second point of reference to international conventions is the World Declaration on Education for All, held in Jomtein, Thailand, again in 1990. This convention certainly takes on board the rights of the child and is very useful in building a strategy and elaborating the mechanisms necessary, both for the conceptualisation and the delivery of quality education in Guyana. According to the Jomtein Declaration, basic education is the fundamental right of all the population. Basic education is indispensable for achieving higher levels of quality in the upper levels of the educational system, in the advancement of scientific and technical capacity, and in the comprehensive development of the country.
In this context, the philosophy governing education in Guyana rests on several broad and underlying principles, as follows:
Every child has an inherent, inalienable right to an education that promotes self-realisation of all capacities, regardless of gender, ethnic, religious, social and economic antecedents, and whatever abilities or disabilities he or she may have.
Education, the basis of the human resource development of all nations, is fundamental to the prosperity of this country, nation-building and a strong sense of citizenry, hence to civic responsibility.
Students vary in natural ability and schools should provide, for all students, programmes adapted to varying abilities and that promote useful talents.
There is need to be aware of new research and development in the field of human learning and continuously adapt these for effective teaching and to improve the educational system.
The philosophy that guides these objectives must also relate to conditions in Guyana as they are, and as we want them to be. Guyana is a plural society with a fair degree of tolerance. Yet, it is also a society with unacceptable levels of tension, division and discrimination between citizens of different races, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, ages, and abilities. In addition, in the last two decades, economic deterioration has fostered a trend toward breakdown of family and community. In these circumstances, our educational system must also be based on the following principles:
Families have a major responsibility for the welfare of children and the well-being of children could be best promoted by the strengthening of the bonds between the family, the community and the school.
The curricular arrangements that underpin the educational system must offer choices ensuring that cultural, ethnic, class, and gender needs are effectively addressed, and that help develop strong ethical, moral, and civil responsibility.
The educational system is best served (and in turn, it most effectively supports a plural multicultural society) when there is consensus in civil society on the philosophy and policy on which it is based.
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The most fundamental, all-embracing, objectives of the nation's educational system are three:
1. Raising levels of literacy and numeracy in the population.
2. Improving the population's command of life skills.
3. Meeting the special education needs of children who are handicapped in one way or another.
Achievement of these objectives will give our citizens more control over their destinies, increase their economic earning power, and enable them to enrich their lives socially and culturally. Therefore, these are fundamental objectives that support all aspects of this National Development Strategy.
To facilitate the achievement of these basic objectives, in the context of the current issues and constraints affecting the educational system, the following broad operational objectives are posited:
1. Increasing the effectiveness of instruction at all levels in the system, per unit of resources expended.
2. Increasing the relative importance accorded to primary education within the system.
3. Mobilising greater amounts of financial resources for all levels and types of education.
4. Targeting more effectively the expenditures on the more needy students, thus allowing the available funding to stretch farther.
5. Increasing student attendance and making the system more flexible in order to accommodate students who mature academically at different rates.
6. Reducing regional inequalities in education and providing better for children with special needs.
7. Increasing the gender sensitivity of the system at all levels.
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1. Financing of Education
In view of the issues and constraints previously described in the area of financing, there is no single solution and hence the way forward must contain multiple elements. Making basic education accessible to all school-age children remains a cornerstone of educational policy, but new mechanisms will be put in place so that those families who can afford to pay part of the schooling costs for their children in fact do so. Increased community contributions in kind and in cash also will be encouraged. It must be borne in mind that the pretense of providing free education to all is in reality leading to the emergence of an inequitable system, in which the better-off families purchase a higher quality of education for their children (mainly via tutoring).
Notwithstanding these measures, the Government reaffirms its commitment to raise the share of the national budget that is allocated to education. The goal for this share is to raise it to worldwide norms for developing countries by the year 2005, and to achieve half of that projected increase by the year 2000.
The additional financial resources mobilised by the educational system will permit a determined attack on its most basic problems, by raising teachers' salaries substantially, improving training for teachers (including in-service training), rehabilitating physical plant, providing educational materials in greater quantity and in higher quality, and taking other essential steps.
To give concrete expression to these central thrusts of policy for financing education, the following specific policies are adopted for the sector:
a. The share of the national budget allocated to education will be raised continuously from the present level of approximately 6 percent to 10 percent by 2000 and further to 14 percent by 2005.
b. All current barriers to the setting up of private schools will be removed, while requiring that in their operations such schools comply with Ministry guidelines on curriculum, teacher qualifications and safety standards of physical plant. Maximum flexibility will be given to those schools in respect of staff management and promotion, the kinds of educations materials used, and other areas of operational decisions. It is performance that ultimately matters, in terms of improved learning, and not how each school chooses to achieve that performance. Indeed, better performance is likely to be registered over time if innovation is encouraged in school administration. By permitting private schools to emerge and absorb part of the student population in a self-financing way, the amount of resources available to the public system will signify higher levels of support per student.
c. Develop a systematic approach for consulting communities and target groups on cost sharing activities, development of schools' financial plans and related topics, and for involving community watchdog groups in the monitoring of the use of physical facilities to reduce repair costs and in the carrying out of routine maintenance activities.
d. Contract out selected school administrative services, such as transport, catering, etc., that could be more competitively delivered commercially.
e. Establish for the primary and secondary schools in the greater Georgetown area a modest basic fee that would cover items such as books and materials, school security services, first aid services, and the mechanisms for parent involvement and consultations. It must be recognised that at present most parents do pay for their children's education, through purchase of materials that are not in reality available and through extra-curricular lessons to compensate for the existing deficiencies of the system. This demonstrated willingness to pay needs to be channeled in directions that help strengthen the system. After five years of experience with these fees, they can be evaluated and a decision can be made as to whether they should be extended to other areas of the country.
f. Develop arrangements for means testing by other agencies that will identify those families that should be exempt from paying the modest fee mentioned above. It is important that the means testing be conducted by institution(s) outside the educational system, in order to avoid introducing a potential source of friction between the school administrations and the communities of parents. Every effort needs to be made to enhance the partnerships between parents and schools. Means testing should be a responsibility of SIMAP, which should improve its capabilities in this area.
g. Cut back on examination subsidies, except for the poorest families who are identified through the same means testing outlined immediately above.
h. Restructure expenditure at the President's College without compromising its capacity to deliver quality education.
i. Expand partnerships with private enterprises and old students' associations, and adopt a clear policy that each school may raise, by these and other mechanisms, supplementary funding up to a specified percentage of the budget without prejudicing its regular allotment from the Ministry of Education. In this way, schools will be given additional incentives to strengthen community alliances. Also clarify that the supplementary funding mobilised in this way may be used for purchasing additional equipment and materials, establishing programmes of teacher incentives, providing additional funding to special education, and for establishing bursaries for students of low-income families to remit in their name the new basic fee.
j. Implementing modest charges for after-school care, again with the provision for exemptions based on the same means tests. After-school care should become an activity that more than pays for itself, thus contributing to funding the central educational mission of the schools.
k. Organise the hiring out of premises during periods when they are not utilised for schooling.
l. For technical and vocational education, Chapter 35 establishes an important new financing policy, which is that of a small payroll tax (between 0.5 percent and 1 percent), the proceeds of which would be disbursed under the guidance of a tripartite council. In addition to that measure, for graduates of TVET courses who are successful in obtaining regular employment, a small levy on their salaries, of not more than 5 percent of net income, will be utilised to reimburse part of the cost of their training. Such a levy would be continued for a maximum number of years, or until such cost were repaid in full, whichever came first, and no repayment would be expected of those who do not succeed in finding regular employment within a specified time period after graduating from the course.
m. Financing considerations for the University of Guyana are mentioned below in the sub-section on the university.
2. Balance between Different Levels of Education
Given the importance of primary education as mentioned in earlier sections of this Chapter, the policy of the National Development Strategy in this area is to allocate the majority of each's year's increment in the national educational budget to primary education until the goal is attained of raising primary education's budgetary share from the present level of 27 percent to the target of 35 percent by the year 2000, with a further increase to 40 percent by the year 2005.
This policy will be implemented beginning with the 1997 budget, and it is expected that the 35 percent target could in fact be achieved by 1999.
Following this path means that secondary and tertiary education will not have to suffer any budgetary reductions, and in fact will receive some increases each year, while the share devoted to primary education is being increased.
3. Targeting Educational Expenditures
The financing policies mentioned above also will serve to better target educational expenditures on needy students, so that in the end the subsidies implicit in these expenditures go to those who most require them.
At the same time, the educational system will undertake to reduce the variations between regions in the amount of spending per pupil. The goal for the year 2000 is to see that those variations are such that, for each level of education, the region receiving the lowest funding obtains at least 80 percent of the spending per pupil of the region receiving the highest funding.
4. Gender Sensitivity
In order to increase the gender sensitivity of the system, the following policies will be instituted:
a. Specific material on sensitivity with respect to gender will be included in the curriculum for teacher training. In those courses, trainee teachers will be exposed to the requisite skills and techniques for gender-free teaching, to better manage the mixed classroom situation, allowing each gender to more fully realise its potentials.
b. A special commission will review the curricula of the system, and its teaching and learning materials, with respect to gender considerations, and appropriate revisions will be made accordingly.
c. Appropriate monitoring tools and mechanisms will be developed by the Ministry of Education for following the treatment of gender issues in the school system, and for providing corresponding feedback to school administrators and teachers.
d. Special bursaries will be established to encourage girls to go into scientific and technical vocational fields.
5. Administration of Education
a. Improved baseline data, along with its computerisation, and systematic budgetary monitoring procedures will be developed and implemented.
b. The relationships between the Central Ministry, the Regional Education Department and the Regional Democratic Councils will be redefined and clarified, and their respective coordination mechanisms will be strengthened.
c. Training programmes for school administrators, central educational authorities and regional officials will be strengthened and applied more broadly. Special orientation and training programmes will be instituted for newly appointed regional officials.
d. Mechanisms will be developed to involve community members more fully in the annual planning for each school and in the implementation of such plans. Particular emphasis will be given to involving the families of children with special needs.
e. Similarly, mechanisms will be developed for involvement of representatives of local communities and regions in overall education planning and delivery, including issues related to the curriculum.
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1. Pre-School Care
The basic orientation of policy for pre-school care is to make the programmes more widely available and give more structure to them, keeping in mind the need to provide socialisation activities and to prepare the way for the transition into school itself.
a. Training will be provided to day care and play group instructors.
b. A survey will be conducted in order to develop a greater understanding of the demand for day care and play school facilities.
c. Partly as a function of the results of said survey, a programme will be launched to upgrade existing facilities and build new ones, for this category of care.
d. A dialogue, with regular meetings, will be undertaken between concerned agencies and representative parents and teachers, in order to arrive at a common understanding of the basic elements of a "curriculum" for day care and play groups.
e. A campaign will be carried out to establish strategic alliances with the business sector, NGOs and community-based organisations to provide enhanced child care facilities within nursery schools in general, and in particular in the main urban centres.
2. Nursery Level Education
Considerable effort is needed to expanded the availability of nursery-level education, to improve its quality and to give its curriculum more meaningful content. Specific policies toward those ends are as follows:
a. A panel of experts (possibly local and international) will be established to work on the curriculum and with administrators, teachers and interested representatives of communities, toward strengthening the quality of nursery-level education, given that this is a very formative age in the cognitive process. The curriculum will be refined and expanded to:
Help students deal better with sensitive issue such as gender bias and discrimination by race, religion or social status, and to minimize the emergence of such attitudes as the children mature.
Facilitate the children's transition from use of their dialect or home language to standard English.
Assist children to validate themselves personally in the context of the society, i.e., develop respect for the achievements of their ancestors and a sense of pride in their own persona and interests and talents.
Encourage children's sense of curiosity and willingness to explore their world on a conceptual plane.
b. Campaigns will be undertaken to increase the enrollment in nursery schools by at least 15 percent over the next five years, with particular emphasis on the hinterland and deep riverain areas.
c. Expanded training activities will be provided for teachers, including distance education modalities, improving their capabilities especially for dealing with the points mentioned above under refinement of the curriculum. The quantitative goal of the expanded training programme should be to increase the percentage of teachers at this level who are trained by at least 15 to 20 percent annually.
d. Increase the number of facilities specifically built for purposes of nursery schooling. Through the PTAs the private sector should be encouraged to help in providing more of these facilities.
e. Learning materials should be developed in native languages, and materials should be prepared that include stories about all groups in society, cutting across distinctions of gender, race, status and so forth.
f. Teachers at this level also should be trained to teach English as a second language.
g. Informational material and short courses should be developed for community groups, NGOs, and parents that wish to participate in the delivery of early childhood education.
h. Provision should be made for the nursery schools to offer supervision for children who cannot be picked up immediately at the end of the session. As noted above in the section on policies for financing education, fees commensurate with the effort should be charged for providing this service, or alternatively parent volunteers should be recruited.
i. Guidelines and documentation should be developed for communities that wish to start their own nursery schools.
3. Primary Level Education
A national priority has to be attached to providing broader access to primary education of high quality. The planned increase in funding will help in this regard, but it also is important that the additional funds be spent wisely. The specific policies set out below indicate some of the most important ways in which primary education can be improved.
a. Increase annually the percentage of primary teachers who are professionally trained, so that it rises to 75 percent by the year 2000. Distance learning methods for in-service training should be utilised as well as the regular programme of the CPCE.
b. Develop a programme for raising salaries with the additional budgetary allocations, giving special consideration to hinterland areas and introducing mechanisms of performance-based incentives (merit increments) for teachers and for entire school staffs.
c. Develop a more balanced curriculum and student performance norms according to grade, level and subject. The curriculum must include introduction to a foreign language and computers and the development of life skills, with especially strong emphasis on achieving literacy, numeracy and communication skills. Development or problem-solving abilities and life skills also should be an integral part of the curriculum. Values, moral underpinnings and factual material for good citizenship also need to be stressed. A panel of experts should be convened for the purpose of revising the curriculum.
d. Review and revise current assessment practices, toward the institutionalisation of continuous assessment supported by a system of improved record-keeping in schools. In addition, develop performance norms according to grade level and subject in keeping with the teaching of life skills.
e. Convene a national committee to evaluate thoroughly the option of eliminating the SSEE and replacing it with the aforementioned performance norms and continuous assessments. The definitive choice between academic and vocational tracks on the part of students could be deferred to age 14 or 16.
f. Make primary teaching guides available to all teachers in the system at this level. The guides should also be provided to all supervisory staff, in order to improve the capacity of the inspectorate and regional supervisory staff to monitor the implementation of the curriculum.
g. With assistance from external donors and local NGOs, strengthen school feeding programmes so that virtually all primary schools are covered. As well as improving nutrition levels of students, these programmes help to increase attendance rates.(5)
h. Explore approaches to involving more advanced students as para-instructors, particularly for literacy and numeracy skills and especially in hinterland areas.
i. Accelerate the programmes of rehabilitation and construction of schools, seeking assistance from donor agencies in this area whenever possible, and facilitate the design of modular purpose-built structures for different levels of enrollment. Maintain and develop the libraries envisioned under the PEIP.
j. On a pilot basis, select a small number of schools with past achievement rates that are below average, and try to convert them into magnet schools through an intensive and coordinated programme of renovation of physical plant, introduction of additional teaching materials, and provision of intensive in-service training to the teaching staffs.
k. Reintroduce ancillary staff to schools with more than 500 pupils.
l. Establish pilot projects for the testing of strategies for smoothing out the transitional periods between nursery and primary schools, and between primary and secondary.
m. Maintain and strengthen the alliances with programmes such as SIMAP, BNTF and others for the repair of schools, provision of furniture, creation of libraries, supply of developmental materials, etc. Involve the PTAs actively in the coordination of outside support for the schools.
4. Secondary Level Education
Although a disproportionate share of increments to the national education budget will be allocated to primary schools over the next few years, other levels will also receive annual increases in real terms. In addition the schools can expect to receive additional funding through the institution of partial fees as mentioned above, increased community contributions, rental of unutilised facilities, and the like. It is essential to develop plans for the most effective use of the additional funding, giving the highest priorities to raising teachers' salaries, improving the training of teachers, and providing more teaching and learning materials. In regard to training, special emphasis needs to be placed on in-service training By the same token, there needs to be a thorough-going reappraisal and rationalisation of the secondary education budget to eliminate major expenditures that are of secondary importance to the central mission of the schools.
Other fundamental policies for secondary education include the need to:
Review the option of restructuring the curriculum of secondary education to assimilate fully the implications of the possible elimination of the SSEE and the deferral of the choice between academic and vocational tracks until age 14 or 16.
Extend the community high school programmes by one year and use the first year for repeat and remedial work in languages, mathematics and science, as a first step in the unification of the GSS, CHS and the secondary departments of the primary schools.
Improve the relevance of the curriculum by incorporating at least one foreign language, more exposure to computer training, and basic competence in technical vocational subjects such as mechanics, electronics, professional manners for dealing with clients, etc. Spanish should become the obligatory first foreign language, as part of Guyana's drive to better take advantage of its geographical location in the hemisphere and expand business relationships with neighbors and near-neighbors.
Additional policies of basic importance for secondary education include the following:
a. Establish a more structured system of supervised teaching in the secondary schools, especially from Form One to Form Three, where the learning of basic concepts is crucial to increasing students' capacity to understand and apply analytical tools at subsequent levels in the educational system and later in the world of work.
b. Develop and distribute guidelines so that school administrators and supervisors can encourage teachers to set questions that cover each of the levels of the cognitive domain. It has been observed that teachers in the secondary level tend not to foster analytical skills, critical thinking and advanced applications skills, because they only set questions that test the lower levels of the cognitive domain.
c. Establish a common curriculum for at least the first three years in all schools at the secondary level. Update the curriculum to ensure that it continues to be relevant to the nation's development priorities and plans. As an example, the increasing importance of tourism to the economy suggests the need to introduce related concepts into the curriculum.
d. Establish a system for awarding CXC subsidies to students based on means testing.
e. Initiate a programme of implementing measures to increase the cost-effectiveness of the delivery of education in all schools, and in particular in President's College. The pupil-teacher ratio should be increased (but not to exceed the national recommendation for secondary schools made in 1994), the number of coastal boarders should be reduced, greater accommodation should be made for students from the hinterland, and administrative staff should be rationalised.
f. Implement a policy of assigning available and experienced Form teachers who are able to offer advice, guidance and pastoral care to all students and in particular to those of Forms One and Two.
g. Redouble efforts to ensure that the first forms have a full complement of teachers for all subject areas. Whenever possible, ensure that the more experienced teachers are placed in the early forms.
h. Extend the compulsory age of education to 16 or the completion of a five-year secondary programme. However, it must be recognised that improving the quality and relevance of education will do more than anything else to retain students longer in the system.
i. Broaden certification at the secondary level by the introduction of a Guyana Secondary Education Certificate examination.
5. Training of Teachers
In the area of teacher training there are two dominant needs: to increase very substantially the number of trained teachers, and to improve the quality and relevance of the training that is imparted to them. Fulfilling these needs will require a number of reforms which together contribute to bringing about improvements in the technology and delivery systems for teacher training, improving its cost-effectiveness, mobilising more resources for it, and providing increased opportunities and incentives for teachers to become trained. This is an area of urgent national priority. In quantitative terms, the goal is to ensure that 80 percent of all teachers at every level are trained by the year 2000.
The principal specific thrusts of policy in this area are the following:
a. Create new training centres at a regional level, especially in hinterland areas, and develop modalities of distance training. At the same time, ensure that there is sufficient equivalency in the various teacher training programmes.
b. Seek assistance from external donors in regard to securing access to improved technologies for teacher training.
c. Improve the cost-effectiveness of teacher training. Distance education methodologies will help in this regard, but student-teacher ratios in training programmes should be increased in most cases.
d. Dedicate part of each year's increase in the national educational budget to improving the salaries of teachers' educators. Savings realised through increases in the cost-effectiveness of training programmes also should be directed in large measure to increasing salaries of trainers.
e. Introduce fees to represent partial cost recovery for teacher training. As in the case of other levels of the educational system, exemptions from payment of the fee can be made on the basis of means tests. Also, teacher trainees can be given the option of paying the fee from future earnings, once employed in the teaching profession. This policy has the aims of (i) assisting in the task of mobilising more resources for teacher training, and (ii) assisting in the overall effort to target educational expenditures on the lowest income groups.
f. Update the curriculum for teacher training to emphasise:
Teaching the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy.
Teaching more analytical approaches to basic material and ways to encourage students to think creatively.
Materials that will enable teachers to cope with the realities of the modern classroom which include various forms of indiscipline.
The importance of inculcating self-esteem and self-worth in students.
The use of computers and modern techniques of communication.
A greater role for teaching foreign languages, especially Spanish which will be the first prerequisite in that regard.
Techniques for teaching remedial classes.
A structure of the teacher training programmes which is conducive to critical thinking on the part of teachers themselves, and a greater openness to different methods of doing things.
The guidance and pastoral care part of the curriculum in schools.
g. Provision of greater opportunities for training for the current stock of teachers, through sabbaticals, short courses and seminars given in situ, and distance learning through written materials supplemented by frequent direct contacts with trainers. Ensure that these approaches constitute a programme through which teachers can obtain a degree while on the job.
h. Provision of incentives for participating in training opportunities by means of salary increments tied to levels of training and to the observed degree of improvement in the performance of students. Similarly, reward excellence by grading the certificates obtained by teachers. Provide special incentives linked to acquisition of the appropriate knowledge and techniques in mathematics, sciences and languages.
i. Provide a system through which highly qualified persons who have not come through the educational curriculum in their tertiary studies can nevertheless acquire professional teaching competence through intensified and abbreviated courses in teacher training. In addition, make provision for such persons to participate in teaching on a part-time or occasional basis without having received full certification from a teacher training programme.
j. Review and rationalise the relationships between CPCE, NCERD and the University of Guyana, and develop greater interface among those programmes. Modularise the CPCE programme and base qualifications and certification on the acquired number of credits. Make provisions for licensing teachers who are trained at institutions other than CPCE and the University of Guyana.
k. Ensure that in the long term all heads of schools should be graduate. Meanwhile, all the appointed school heads and administrators should be adequately qualified for the jobs they have to do. They should receive specific, periodic training in management and administrative skills needed for the competent execution of their professional responsibilities.
l. Make provision for the teacher trainers themselves to receive periodic refresher materials and courses.
m. Evaluate teacher training programmes systematically every five years, and establish levels, benchmarks and relationships between the various teacher training programmes.
n. Ensure articulation of programmes between post-secondary technical vocational institutions, and establish equivalencies.
o. Train and appoint guidance teachers, including vocational guidance personnel.
p. Strengthen entry requirements for teacher training programmes.
6. Tertiary Education
Major challenges for the University of Guyana include producing a greater concentration of graduates in areas demanded by the growing economy and improving its cost effectiveness. At the same time, the emphasis on improving the quality of instruction should be continued and the needs of adult and continuing education attended to. Efforts should be made to establish special centres of excellence in fields particularly relevant to Guyana's development process. In addition, as indicated, there is scope for supplementing the programmes of the university with specialised offerings from universities in other countries.
a. For improving cost effectiveness the following policies need to be carried out:
i) A predictable, reliable and declining level of the subvention to the university should be maintained over the long term, based on a transparent and workable formula.
ii) Enrollments should be increased in some of the faculties with a low student-teacher ratio. Failing that, eventually staff numbers should be reduced in some of those cases. In effect, the university should seek to have a more viable and cost-effective grouping of courses, retaining flexibility over time in relation to the determination of priority fields.
iii) The university should seek to achieve more significant efficiency in the utilisation of its existing income by improving its management. For instance, the ratio of its ancillary staff to its academic staff is rather high relative to comparable institutions. Likewise, management should act more speedily to commercialise the university's potentials in service, research and development. Consultancy is an obvious area to expand.
iv) Fees should be maintained and should possibly vary from faculty to faculty, depending on professional income earning possibilities after graduation. It is possible to index or link the fees to the income earning potential of the fields of specialisation. After the commencement of employment, not more than 10 percent of the annual earnings of the beneficiary should be used in servicing the debt incurred and such repayment should not exceed a period of ten to fifteen years. A variant of this scheme would be an annual repayment of student loans that should not exceed 60 percent of the national per capita income over the repayment period. In any case, when computing the annual student financial requirements, adequate allowances should be made to cover the full living cost of the students.
v) Greater community-wide support for the university should be mobilised, including both domestic and foreign sources. Perhaps the most obvious ways to mobilise such support are seeking endowments for chaired professorships and research programmes, and seeking contributions to scholarship funds. Also, the network of graduates of the university should be tapped for support on a regular basis.
vi) Heads of Department should be accountable for financial budgeting and expenditures, instead of the Deans, and they should report through the Deans to the proposed Vice-Chancellor for Finance. Training and assistance should be provided to the Department Heads in order to improve the institution's capacity for sound financial management.
vii) The public subvention to the university should be transferred on an annual basis to avoid disruptions in the management of the institution's finances.
viii) Rolling five-year plans should be prepared for both the capital and recurrent expenditures, plus salaries, to ensure greater predictability and probity in the use of funds.
ix) A university grants commission should be set up, with membership drawn in part from the University Council, to recommend to the Government financial allocations over the medium and short term.
x) Require that students who receive scholarships cannot emigrate without having worked at least two years in Guyana after graduation.
b. To improve the quality and relevance of the university, and to help it fulfill its wider responsibilities to the Guyanese public, the following measures should be implemented:
i) The university's entry requirement of five "O" levels at any number of sittings should be retained.
ii) Nevertheless, to expand the intake of students, high school diplomas should be considered in conjunction with other requirements for entry, and the possibility of a scholastic aptitude test should be evaluated as part of the selection process.
iii) The university's capacity should be strengthened in respect of providing remedial material in basic subjects in the first year of enrollment.
iii) The facility for provision of scholarships to needy students should be widened.
iv) Adult education and continuing education programmes should be strengthened.
v) Triennial reviews of course offerings should be undertaken with a view to revising them in light of the requirements of the economy.
vi) The university should develop a long term plan for establishing and strengthening centres of excellence which eventually could draw students from the Caribbean region and elsewhere, and special support from industry and international donors should be sought for research and teaching programmes (and student scholarships) in those centres. Topics that commend themselves as natural candidates for such centres include tropical forestry and forest management, geology and mining, and fisheries management. The possible topics should be reviewed, and programmes developed for establishing the centres. Only one such centre should be attempted in a given five-year period, but conceivably two of them could be established or underway by 2005.
vii) The university's foreign language offerings, especially Spanish, should be improved as a priority matter.
viii) Forms of collaboration with the University of the West Indies should be explored, thereby obviating the need for the University of Guyana to have equal depth of expertise in all areas, thus contributing to greater cost-effectiveness.
ix) Considerations of gender sensitivity need to be introduced in more course offerings, and faculty and administrators should be given special materials and seminars on the subject.
x) The availability of cultural and sports facilities for students, and support facilities, should be increased.
xi) As a consequence of improved cost-effectiveness, the most deteriorated aspects of the physical plant need to be rehabilitated urgently.
c. Exploratory contacts should be initiated with universities in other countries regarding their possible interest in establishing small branch campuses in Guyana, and legislation should be adapted to permit that option. Both undergraduate and graduate programmes should be investigated in this context. As mentioned above, the availability of such options within Guyana would be of great importance to students, as they would signify greater accessibility of university-level options without having the incur the costs of travel and living abroad.
7. Technical Vocational Education and Training
The principal task for technical and vocational education and training is to improve its efficiency and its relevance to the needs of potential employers. A principal avenue to achieving this aim is to involve the private sector more deeply in its financing, guidance and delivery. Chapter 35 sets out policies for funding via a small payroll tax and guidance through the establishment of a tripartite council comprising representatives of labour, private business and government.
Such a council also should take responsibilities in the areas of certification of graduating students and periodic evaluations of the TVET system. Involvement of employers also can lead to expanded opportunities for practical training via internships in firms. Employers should be encouraged to support TVET programmes in kind as well as in cash, with contributions of employees' time and making available equipment and materials.
The TVET system should be structured so that it offers more short-term courses in general for those with a basic education, crafts programmes for qualified Form III graduates, diploma programmes for Form V graduates with appropriate CXC examination results, and the opportunity for admission to technical programmes at the University of Guyana for outstanding graduates of the diploma programmes. Special emphasis needs to be given to short courses in rural areas on topics that have the potential to enhance incomes of farmers. In general, TVET offerings need to be made more varied and more frequent.
The increased funding available for TVET should be used to expand its scope, which currently is rather small, and to improve the quality of the instruction. The expansion should take place in areas indicated by the tripartite council. Other reforms that are needed are as follows:
a. Eliminate pre-vocational courses in basic education and reallocate the corresponding resources toward post-basic TVET.
b. Widen the geographical coverage of the TVET system as needed. For example, Region 2 could sustain a technical institute of its own.
c. Work toward ensuring gender sensitivity by encouraging applications from females in all fields.
d. Ensure articulation and fit between levels of education and equivalency vis-a-vis the CARICOM region.
e. Entrepreneurial ideas should be given more exposure in the curricula of primary, secondary and tertiary schools.
f. Require that TVET students who receive scholarships cannot emigrate without having worked in Guyana for at least two years after graduation.
8. Special Needs Education
As mentioned in Section III of this Chapter, the special needs in education essentially have gone unmet by the educational system to date, with the exception of the efforts of the two special schools. Meeting these needs requires recognising this problem fully, diagnosing accurately the nature of the needs in each case, training teachers and administrators appropriately, and ensuring that programmes for special needs are included in all the curricula. National policy for special needs education should focus on:
a. Putting children with special needs into the mainstream of education, except in cases of severe disability.
b. Ensuring an appropriate educational climate, including learning materials and curriculum, and also the requisite support services and physical infrastructure.
c. Fostering informed involvement on the part of immediate families of children with special needs and their communities.
d. Training teachers in the essential skills and techniques required in special needs education.
e. Developing partnerships with support groups and non-governmental organisations.
Specific policies that should be followed in regard to special needs education are the following:
a. Institute a programme of regular diagnostic testing in the schools to identify learning difficulties and put in place timely remedial measures. This testing should be viewed as a means of enlightening both teachers and parents and as an effective aid in the educational development of the children, but not as a labeling device. In this regard, the Ministry of Health should work in close collaboration with the educational system for the early detection of special needs and the design of timely interventions when necessary, preferably before school age. This cooperation should also encompass the educational needs of street children, dropouts, juvenile delinquents and abused children.
b. Require all schools to articulate their multi-year and annual plans and resource requirements for satisfying children's special needs. Based on the diagnoses carried out, each school will determine whether it needs a special class or a resource room to deal with special needs pupils. Each school should establish a task force for special needs. The Head of the school and the teachers should receive guidance in this role.
c. Consideration will be given to the nature of the examinations and assessments to which special needs pupils should be subjected, just as exceptionally bright and gifted children are usually given some special considerations in this regard.
d. The existing special needs schools (David Rose and Saint Barnabas) will be strengthened in all aspects to enable them to cater more effectively to their pupils.
e. The committee on special needs chaired by the Principal of the David Rose School will be more formally recognised, expanded in the scope of its activities, and empowered to deal more effectively with the associated issues. The committee's substantive responsibility should be to develop, introduce, support, and monitor appropriate educational programmes for those pupils with special needs. It will establish two subcommittees, for the counties of Berbice and Essequibo, in order to be more effective locally.
It will have jurisdiction for the design, implementation, support and monitoring of educational programmes for:
the families of children with special needs;
the wider community, in order to minimise or remove the prejudices and barriers that are widespread concerning these children;
It will also generate and maintain a data base on children with special needs and the associated programmes, and it will develop the terms of reference for the special needs task forces mentioned above that will be set up in the schools.
9. Other Educational Policies
a. Offering instruction in English
Given its location and tradition of literacy, Guyana has a special opportunity to become a centre for the learning of English as a second language, for persons from the countries of South America. The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism will establish a joint task force to review the possibilities in this area and formulate recommendations. Quito, Ecuador and Antigua, Guatemala are cases that merit review, as they have become renowned as centres for learning Spanish as a second language, and each of those cities has a large number of institutes devoted to that aim.
b. Use of standard English
To preserve its traditions and meet the challenge of interacting on a greater scale with the external world, Guyana needs to make special efforts to encourage the use of standard English. A campaign should be developed to encourage the use of standard English in the workplace.
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For almost a century, the 1876 Act governed education in Guyana. Not until 1975 and 1976 were limited changes made to the Act to facilitate specific developments such as coeducation, the take over of private schools, and free education. Outside these specific acts, the rights of children in general, and their rights to education in particular, are reflected in the national constitution.
The education amendment acts as they presently stand, clearly lack flexibility to adapt to the variety of changes occurring in the sector, and for which they were hitherto not designed to cater. The following proposed changes are only indicative and not exhaustive:
establish the general and specific rights of children to a compulsory nine-year quality education;
strengthening the autonomous status of the educational establishment at the secondary and tertiary levels, inclusive of school boards;
institutionalise the role of non-governmental and community-based organisations in policy, theory, and management of the educational system;
end the monopoly of Government in the education sector, and permit private and community-based institutions at all levels of education;
enshrine the appropriate regulatory authority to set, monitor, and enforce natural curriculum standards, recruitment, training, appointment, and promotion of teachers, code of conduct, standards of physical facilities, learning materials, conditions of services, subventions, etc.
extend the said authority to cover other "commercial and business" type schools in consultation with representative user bodies.
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The Industrial Training Act is being amended and the draft bill incorporates an autonomous board that will report to the Ministry of Education, and will be responsible for all TVET, including the TVET component of the Community High Schools. It will also become the curriculum approving body. This proposed act is consistent with the CARICOM technical and vocational training policy.
1. 0The eight-year compulsory attendance was introduced in 1876.
2. 0Although recruitment of permanent staff is still the function of the TSC, the Regional Education Officer is responsible for the identification and appointment of temporary staff.
3. 0This figure refers to expenditures incurred by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Not included are expenditures on education by other agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, which comprise about 5 percent of total spending on education.
4. 0Physical plant is badly deteriorated. In 1991 it was found that only 10 percent of the school buildings were in satisfactory condition. Textbooks and other teaching materials are in very scarce supply, more often being absent than not.
5. 0 International studies have shown that sometimes students from very poor families who receive meals at school have their meal portions reduced at home, in favour of other family members. Nevertheless, even when that occurs, the net nutrition level of the entire family is improved by the feeding programme, and in addition there is the mentioned benefit of improved attendance rates.