Eyewitness: New horizons…


…in education

Your Eyewitness has been looking for silver linings behind this dark cloud of COVID-19 that has descended over the world for over a year now. Well, today he glimpsed one in the announcement by the Ministry of Education that arrangements have been already made for 4500 scholarships to be awarded to some top-level foreign universities on their in-line platforms. The programmes include Bachelor’s, Master’s and beyond in a host of subject areas – from Accountancy to Zoology and not forgetting engineering and computer sciences and hundred more!

This is evidently part of the 20,000 scholarships in five years the Government promised – and which some snickered at! Now, “distance learning” has been around forever. How many of us haven’t heard of fellas like the recently-departed Llewellyn John who did their “external degree” from London University back in the day?

But with the revolutionary changes in communication technology in the past few decades, “on line learning” moved to centre stage as it became possible for anyone with a computer, tablet or laptop to plug in directly into classes beamed from universities across the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic simply accelerated this process when face-to-face contact became verboten. Schools across the world had to be closed and presently, there are more than 1.5 billion students getting their education online. Many of them are adults. It’s now proven that students retain information from these online classes much more effectively than from the old-fashioned teachers passing on rote knowledge standing in front of students.

The latter can now learn at their own pace by returning to obscure points or skipping those they are already familiar with. What this means is that with all these efficiencies in delivering teaching curricula – for instance, the students also don’t have to leave their homes – online education is here to stay. It’s simply been sealed by the COVID-19 demands.

But what the Ministry should take note of is the new format has created new divides in accessing education. And they’ll have to take care of these for both young students and these new more mature ones. Right off the bat, there’s the Internet connectivity that’s so divergent across Guyana that we may as well be living in all three “Worlds”. Once again, the hinterland and rural students are at a disadvantage. Then, of course, there’s the need to supply students with laptops, etc.

What’s intriguing is that for those who may not want to be tied into the governmental scholarship strings, all Guyanese can enrol in courses at the universities at severely reduced fees up to 80 per cent.
We’re now entering the brave new world of universal university education in Guyana!

… cricket

Your Eyewitness is a self-confessed cricket tragic who, in case you never heard the expression, lives, breathes and (regularly) dies on the fortunes of West Indies cricket. Since he’s been able to still survive from the highs of the eighties through the doldrums of the nineties and even greater depths in this millennium, you would know, as such, that hope beats eternal in HIS breast.

M0st of that hope was encouraged by the (albeit erratic) performance of the WI in the abbreviated T-20 form of the game. After all, it suited our “slam, bam, thank you Ma’am”! He’s pretty much given up hope on what he considers the “real” cricket – -Test Cricket.
Every now and then they’d flatter to deceive. So, you’ll have to excuse your Eyewitness not getting too excited about their win yesterday in their first Test against Bangladesh.
Let’s see if they can repeat.

…in ghetto politics

Your Eyewitness thought the PNC’s “People’s Parliament” in front of Stabroek “Big” Market was a one-off event to score some cheap points on the W. Berbice murders.
But we’re now told they’ll be inflicting this on unsuspecting folks in other locales.
Isn’t the COVID-19 pandemic enough of a burden?