EYEWITNESS: Moving on…

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…with teaching reforms

Your Eyewitness has repeated the caution of the strong possibility of “a slip between the cup and the lip” on the matter of teachers’ salaries, now that they’ve accepted going to binding arbitration. But he feels it’s as good a time as any to talk a bit about other matters that have to be cleaned up in the education sector, whether or not teachers get their fair shake.

We’ve got to accept we’ve been caught with our pants (and skirts) down on being educated in the oil and gas sector. Now, we can’t blame anyone on this matter specifically. But because of our lack of stress on technical education on the whole, it looks like we’ll be screwed royally for a long time. In our education curricula, we retained the colonial emphasis on academic qualifications, even the rest of the world has shown that working with our hands to create and maintain is just as important for development.

Technical subjects were presented as being suitable only for those who were “failures”, by the criteria of the academic curriculum. So even if a bright student wanted to get into the technical, applied areas, they were turned off by the associated stigma. At our stage of development, the Government should’ve long established secondary schools that emphasised technical subjects and ensured that some of our brightest students were streamed into them through available inducements. For instance, guaranteed employment in manufacturing operations.

Take the matter of scholarships from primary schools. Presently, the best and brightest are sent to Queens College where hands-on learning is looked down upon. They teach, for instance, Agricultural Science as a “double major”…but it would be shocking to know the figure on how many of the “Agri” passers went on to careers in agriculture in the past two decades. You can literally count them on the fingers of one hand. Ditto agri mechanics.

Even the specific technical schools have become dumping ground for our secondary school “failures”. Compare them to the record of the GuySuCo Training School, going back all the way to the late 1950s when it was established by Bookers. The school had qualified instructors – initially from England – who established the curriculum in electrical, mechanical and other relevant areas relevant to the sugar industry.

It’s student body – ‘apprentices” – were culled by a competitive examination that drew applications from the very brightest children of sugar workers, who knew they were guaranteed employment at their graduation. These apprentices returned to the sugar estates to work under “journeymen” to complete their applied training.

After the first PNC regime’s depredations, most of those former apprentices migrated to North America where they’ve achieved spectacular successes.
Let’s get technical in education!

…to local content

OK…so we’ve established we don’t have the manpower to fill a whole lotta technical jobs in the oil industry at this state. But apart from establishing our own technical schools, how about legislation to compel foreign companies that have the required competencies to hire say, at least 60 per cent locals within a reasonable time frame – depending on the competency – by giving them hands on training?? They have a fancy name for this – local content – but this isn’t new.

Even before Guyana’s independence, the same Bookers mentioned above, started a programme they called “Guyanisation” that was intended to replace the senior staff with locals. Local content!! Those selected individuals were trained abroad – like two present prolific letter writers EB John and Nowrang Persaud – and then given positions in management. The Apprenticeship Training School was intended to train the junior technical staff.

And we can continue in this vein in every other area for the oil and gas industry.
But evidently, the Government can’t!!

…not fired?

Ramjattan says Ramnarine hasn’t resigned as Top Cop (ag). Why should he? According to the law – which Ramjattan should know – hasn’t he been “constructively dismissed”?

He should sue them for damages…unless Granger’s “specific reason” is related to his job performance.

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