Ed­u­ca­tion de­liv­ery in Amerindian vil­lages/com­mu­ni­ties were sig­nif­i­cantly trans­formed un­der the PPP/C

Weekend Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By Nor­man Whit­taker M.P.

Un­doubt­edly,

ed­u­ca­tion is a sine qua non for pre­par­ing our pop­u­la­tion; moreso our young peo­ple not only for work, but for life gen­er­ally. In­deed, ed­u­ca­tion is con­tin­u­ous and ought to fo­cus, in­ter alia, on aca­demic, so­cial, eco­nomic, cul­tural and in­tel­lec­tual de­vel­op­ment. An ed­u­cated pop­u­la­tion is bet­ter able to com­bat poverty, to pro­tect it­self from ex­ploita­tion; to po­si­tion it­self to en­joy more goods and ser­vices and col­lec­tively help pro­mote democ­racy’

No hon­est Guyanese amongst us would deny that the Amerindian pop­u­la­tion of our coun­try had been ex­cluded from the main­stream of ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing a pe­riod when the Gov­ern­ment of the day presided over the rapid de­cline of ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards in Guyana in the 1970s and the 1980s.

Dur­ing that era, a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of our Amerindian chil­dren of school age never went to school be­cause they were no schools; or, went ir­reg­u­larly be­cause they were re­quired to travel long dis­tances to and from school. Con­comi­tantly, many a mother and fa­ther could not find the where­withal to pro­vide that break­fast let alone that lunch for their kids. Re­sul­tantly, non- at­ten­dance, ir­reg­u­lar at­ten­dance, a high in­ci­dence of late­nesses and high drop out rates were the or­der of the day. Many of our Amerindian chil­dren were func­tion­ally il­lit­er­ate and in­nu­mer­ate.

The PPP /C , even be­fore Oc­to­ber 1992, did com­mit to the na­tion and, more specif­i­cally, our Amerindian pop­u­la­tion, that we would fo­cus, in­ter alia, on im­proved ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion for our peo­ple and on en­hanc­ing the qual­ity of that ed­u­ca­tion. To­wards that end we did in­vest heav­ily in ed­u­ca­tion and ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion for all Guyanese; ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges of re­mote­ness of com­mu­ni­ties, dif­fi­culty of ter­rain, high cost to de­liver ed­u­ca­tion and the paucity of hu­man re­source skills in the mostly hin­ter­land vil­lages and com­mu­ni­ties where our Amerindi­ans lived.

A check of our “track records” from Oc­to­ber 1992 to May 2015 will ev­i­dence the tremen­dous strides we made, work­ing in tan­dem with the peo­ple; in pro­vid­ing wider ac­cess to qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for our peo­ple; ad­dress­ing not only for­mal ed­u­ca­tion, but tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion also: thereby em­pow­er­ing Guyanese, in­clud­ing Amerindi­ans, to im­prove their stan­dard of liv­ing. In­deed, our Ed­u­ca­tion Strate­gic Plan 2008-2013 set out as pri­or­i­ties “the pro­vi­sion of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion,” in­clud­ing tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and In­for­ma­tion Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy and a fo­cus also on nu­tri­tion and uni­forms for pupils / stu­dents, up­grad­ing and train­ing for teach­ers etc.

Our an­nual na­tional and re­gional bud­gets con­tin­u­ously pro­vided for ex­pan­sion of our Gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of these pro­grammes in schools; and these in­clude sev­eral pri­mary and sec­ondary schools in the Hin­ter­land Re­gions where most of our Amerindian peo­ple live.

Im­prov­ing Phys­i­cal In­fra­struc­ture

We built schools where there were none; re­paired school build­ings where they were run-down and ex­tend- ed schools where they were over­crowded. And nowhere was this tremen­dous in­vest­ment and im­prove­ment more no­tice­able than in the Hin­ter­land Re­gions - 1, 7, 8 and 9. In so do­ing we cre­ated an en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive to teach­ing and learn­ing.

This tremen­dous im­prove­ment of phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture was fa­cil­i­tated in large measure by the fa­vor­able per­for­mance of our coun­try’s econ­omy as a re­sult of pru­dent so­cial and eco­nomic poli­cies and pro­grammes. The PPP/ C Gov­ern­ment was able to an­nu­ally in­crease re­source al­lo­ca­tion un­der its ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme. One has only to ex­am­ine the cap­i­tal and the cur­rent bud­gets of the Re­gional Demo­cratic Coun­cils of Re­gions 1, 7, 8 and 9 un­der their Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gramme - 1993 to May 2015.

Pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance to par­ents / chil­dren

Rec­og­niz­ing the gen­uine fi­nan­cial con­straints, which many of our Hin­ter­land par­ents faced and which un­doubt­edly af­fected their abil­ity to send their chil­dren to school; the PPP /C Gov­ern­ment pro­vided as­sis­tance by way of trans­porta­tion, uni­form, hot meals to stu­dents; and specif­i­cally na­tional and hin­ter­land schol­ar­ships to hin­ter­land stu­dents who per­formed cred­itably at the SSEE and CSEC.

These modes of as­sis­tance al­lowed them to ac­cess ed­u­ca­tion at the sec­ondary and ter­tiary lev­els, to ben­e­fit from tech­ni­cal / vo­ca­tional train­ing. It also em­pow­ered suc­cess­ful stu­dents to play a more mean­ing­ful role in the gov­er­nance and the de­liv­ery of other ser­vices in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Many were able to ac­cess train­ing at Tech­ni­cal In­sti­tu­tions, the Carnegie School of Home Economics, the Gov­ern­ment Tech­ni­cal In­sti­tute, the Guyana In­dus­trial Train­ing Cen­tre, the Univer­sity of Guyana, Cuba et.al.

Teacher Train­ing / Other In­cen­tives To Teach­ers

Un­der the PPP/C Gov­ern­ment, there were sev­eral Ini­tia­tives to (a) im­prove the qual­ity of the teach­ing force in the Hin­ter­land Schools (b) im­prove the con­di­tions of ser­vice for those teach­ers ( c) en­hance the teach­ing/ learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment ( d) up­grade util­i­ties.

These in­cluded the Hin­ter­land Teach­ers Train­ing Pro­gramme ( HTTP) and t he Guyana Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Teacher Train­ing Pro­grammes (GBETT) de­signed to up­grade and to train teach­ers in Re­gions 1, 7, 8, 9. They pro­vided a mix of dis­tance and face to face train­ing.

These in­cen­tives to­geth- er with the Re­mote Area In­cen­tive, con­struc­tion of teach­ers’ houses etc. brought greater eq­uity in ed­u­ca­tion de­liv­ery and op­por­tu­ni­ties for Hin­ter­land stu­dents in that they im­pacted on the % of trained teach­ers and the re­ten­tion of these teach­ers.

Bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing meant, for many Amerindi­ans, bet­ter jobs and con­comi­tantly bet­ter earn­ings. That many be­came Ed­u­ca­tion Of­fi­cers, Head­teach­ers, Doc­tors, Health Work­ers, Medexes, Den­texes, Mi­cro­scopists, Nurses, Agriculture Of­fi­cers, En­gi­neers, Po­lice and Army Of­fi­cers and more re­cently Min­is­ters of Gov­ern­ment, is due in no small measure to the ded­i­cated com­mit­ment and in­vest­ment of re­sources by the PPP/C to Ed­u­ca­tion De­liv­ery in our Amerindian vil­lages and com­mu­ni­ties.

There is a cor­re­la­tion be­tween ed­u­ca­tion and na­tional de­vel­op­ment. In­deed, the ed­u­cated tend to en­joy a higher qual­ity of life. The in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tion de­liv­ery un­der the PPP/C Gov­ern­ment was sig­nif­i­cant; so also were the Re­turns on the In­vest­ment. The PPP/C Gov­ern­ment ought to be con­grat­u­lated for work­ing to bridge the gap be­tween the pace and state of de­vel­op­ment of re­mote hin­ter­land com­mu­ni­ties where most of our Amerindian pop­u­la­tion lived and ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties.

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