Early Childhood Education is critical to the development of children as it is the time during which children build self-esteem, learn the importance of his/her name, friends, and things, learn to communicate, and build a foundation for lifelong learning. It was on September 13, 1976 that the Government of Guyana officially launched the Guyana Nursery Education Programme with the aim of providing each child the opportunity to a good foundation in education.
Today, the Ministry of Education as part of Education Month observances, held a special ceremony to mark 40 years of development in Early Childhood/Nursery Education in Guyana at the Roxanne Burnham Nursery School.
Assistant Chief Education Officer with responsibility for Nursery Education (ACEO-N)—Ms. Ingrid Trotman in her presentation started by stating that 40 years ago only 19,000 children were enrolled in 380 nursery school. In 2016, the Ministry’s records indicate that 26,500 children are currently enrolled in 332 discrete schools and 142 nursery classes in Guyana. Across the country, there are 1,700 Nursery Teachers, 3 of whom are males.
The two-year Nursery education programme from 1984-2016 has had eight Assistant Chief Education Officers. Ms. Trotman took the opportunity to express the Ministry’s gratitude to each past ACEO for their sterling contribution to advancing Nursery Education in Guyana. Among the names she mentioned were: Ms. Norma Baichoo who served at the first ACEO-N from 1984-1990; Ms. Pamela Henry (1990-1994); Ms. Genevieve Whyte-Nedd (1994-1999); Ms. Romeo McAdam (1999-2000); Ms. Shirley Mentis-King (2001-2003); Ms. Jacqueline Waithe (2004-2007); and Ms. Doodmattie Singh (2007-2011).
The Ministry of Education has been continuously working to improve the delivery of Early Childhood/Nursery Education. The establishment of the Non-academic Standards for Nursery Schools in 2002; Production of the Nursery Education Handbook in 2005; launch of the Early Childhood Literacy and Numeracy programmes and Curriculum guides in 2006; Production of the Roraima Reader Series between 2013-2015: and, continuous capacity training and provision of teaching materials are among the Ministry’s long list of achievements.
In addition to this, the Ministry has constructed and commissioned a number of nursery schools which meets standards set out by Caricom namely, Tuschen Nursery—Region 3, Diamond, Good Hope, and Beterverwagting—Region 4, Ithaca Nursery—Region 5, number 77—Region 6, and Turkeyen, Roxanne Burnham, and Cummings Park Nursery Schools in Georgetown.
Meanwhile, Acting Chief Education Officer—Mr. Marcel Hutson said that Nursery schooling provides a good head start for learning and that incorporating creative and fun methods helps to put children on a path to lifelong learning. Mr. Hutson also stated that at a basic level certain types of facilities are necessary. He said a neat and hygienic environment, trained soft speaking teachers, colourful classrooms, toys, a rest corner, drawing boards, playgrounds, safe drinking water, and flash cards are among the necessities for good educational outcomes. Mr. Huston called on stakeholders to pitch in and help to ensure that every child receives a good education. He said, “It is against this background I would like to extend a call to all stakeholders to let us collectively work to positively impact the lives of our little ones that in future they will fulfil purpose…Together we can do the extraordinary.”
A number of other events have been planned to celebrate Guyana’s 40 years of Nursery Education including:
- Exhibition of Teaching/Learning Materials on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016 at 9:00 hrs at the Liana Nursery School
- Launch of Read. Play. Love Early Childhood Education Campaign
- Parents, Teachers, Children and Friends in Concert on Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 13:00 hrs at the Police Officers Mess, Eve Leary
- Rally on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 at 8:30 hrs from Stabroek Square to Durban Park (Vlissengen Road, Mandela Ave).
- Award Ceremony for Nursery Educators with 35 + years of service. (Ministry of Education)