Hinterland teachers can now access university education with new online programme

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Education Minister Priya Manickchand

A new programme initiated by the Ministry of Education and the University of Guyana (UG) will open opportunities for teachers in hinterland regions to access university education.

The International Center of Excellence in Educator Innovation, Learning and Development (ICEEILA) programme, was launched on June 1, at the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen Campus, to ensure hinterland teachers have equal access to higher education.

Opportunities for teachers in far-flung communities have been extremely limited due to their remoteness. Many would have to travel to Georgetown to attend the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and UG, leaving behind their families and employment.

With the ICEEILA initiative, teachers from these communities will be allowed to study at their convenience, while still earning an income.

The programme will also eliminate many challenges including time consumption, transportation costs, rent and cost of basic household needs.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, said even before the COVID-19 pandemic, only about 75 percent of teachers in the school system were trained, and this she explained was due to the lack of opportunities in Guyana’s hinterland regions.

The minister said, a particularly low percentage of trained teachers in the hinterland regions, “gave us a severe inequality on how we deliver education and what results are returned to us… We were unable to give the children of the hinterland the same opportunities that we were able to give the Coast,” the Minister said.

The programme will also be available to teachers on the coastland. Minister Manickchand said providing equal opportunities and services for Guyanese is a top priority of the PPP/C Administration.

Further, the delivery of education across all levels will be significantly boosted as the initiative also allows from every teacher to study at the university at the same time.

In April 2021, the education ministry put measures in place for teachers to access online education at the CPCE, following the closure of the institution due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a prolonged election period.

To this end, minister Manickchand noted that online classes were the only option for the ministry, this however, has allowed more than 2000 teachers to start training at CPCE.

“It means we’re going to be able to put more and more trained teachers in the classroom, so two takes, quantitatively you’re going to have more teachers because where we used to have 500, we now have 2000, but qualitatively they’re going to be more effective at delivering education because they came to school and learn how to teach,” she said.

President of the Guyana Teachers Union, Mark Lyte during his remarks noted that teachers welcome this initiative as it will allow them to bridge the gap in education, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Out of the experiences we’ve had over the last two years, we recognise the importance of supporting an online approach to education delivery…

With this approach we will now have teachers attending the University of Guyana after the regular school hours, and this will help to bridge the gap that existed as a result of the COVID pandemic,” Lyte noted.

He added that the GTU will fully support the initiative to ensure teachers are trained, to provide higher standards of education.

Meanwhile, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Humanities attached to the University of Guyana, Dr. Roslin Khan outlined the importance of catering for the needs of teachers across the country.

“We are seeking to be adaptable, to be accessible, to be affordable, to prepare our graduates to earn as they learn.

We need be practical, and we need to be applied, we need to be relevant, we need to be flexible and we need to provide the kind of designer degrees,” the Dean said.

She stated that the faculty of education is committed to ensuring teachers could have access to university education wherever they reside. [Extracted and Modified from DPI]