Improved NGSA results suggest President acted prematurely in removing Roopnaraine – WPA

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…calls for VAT on private education to be reviewed among other issues

The Working People’s Alliance (WPA), one of the political parties that comprises the incumbent governing coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), is of the firm view that President David Granger acted prematurely in removing its party Executive, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine from the substantive portfolio of Education.

Former Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine

The WPA’s contention is premised on the visible gains achieved in the education sector, most notable being the recently concluded National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) examinations, which saw significant improvements in areas of Mathematics and English comparative to the year prior.

 

According to the WPA, “these improved results seem to suggest that the President may have acted pre-maturely in removing him from that ministry. Perhaps some public acknowledgement of an error in judgement would go a long way towards repairing what borders on a questioning of Dr Roopnaraine’s competence.”

The party said it would be “remiss if it did not draw attention to the linkage between these improved results and the removal of Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine ostensibly for unsatisfactory performance. If performance is measured by tangible outcomes, Dr. Roopnaraine clearly did not perform too badly.”

Roopnaraine was earlier in June informed by President Granger of his removal from heading the Government’s largest Budget Ministry to heading a Ministry within the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP).

The President had said, through his State Minister Joseph Harmon, that “a department under the Ministry of the Presidency will be created to oversee innovation and reform in the Education Sector. This Department will be under the President himself.”

Review VAT on education

Meanwhile, the WPA during a press briefing held earlier today lamented as a concern, the disparity between the NGSA results achieved between the public and private schools and used the opportunity to also note that the improvements registered by the private institutions “should be a further reminder that the VAT on private education should be urgently reviewed.”

See full statement below:

WPA joins the rest of Guyana in hailing the improved results at the recent National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) examinations. While we feel that much more must be done to return our education system to its once high standards, this significant movement must be cause for optimism. After years of agonizing, we appear to be turning the proverbial corner. The challenge now is to maintain this forward trajectory.

The improvement in the Mathematics results is particularly heartening. This is a subject area in which our results had reached an all-time low. The steep rise this year speaks volumes about investment in people as a matter of policy. There can be no doubt that the government’s pro-active response to the crisis in education in general and Mathematics in particular has reaped early rewards. The President, the former Minister of Education and the government must be commended for their example and commitment in this regard.

But at the end of the day, it is the students, their parents and their teachers who must receive the ultimate commendations. Because our children are the future, it gives us hope when enough of them at such young ages could muster the discipline needed for and the commitment to their personal success. Of course, they could not do this without the input of their parents. In an era when we bemoan the decline of parental involvement in the education of their children, this must be a signal that more parents and guardians are hearing the plea for more parental responsibility. Towards this end WPA wishes to draw attention to the work done under the watch of Minister Roopnaraine in re-energising the Parent Teaches Associations across the country.

There can be no education without teachers. While there are many ills afflicting the teaching profession, respect must be given where it’s due—our teachers have delivered. WPA is conscious that teachers need much more institutional support and takes this opportunity to call on the government to make this an area of special emphasis. Clearly, improved wages and habitable working conditions are a priority. If the improvement we see this year is to be replicated at other levels and in the future, investment in teachers must be instant. WPA endorses Minister Roopnaraine’s efforts in this regard and urges government to consider some tangible incentives for teachers.

WPA notes that students at private schools continue to outperform their counterparts in the public schools. This is a problem that must be rectified if we are to put an end to what President Granger once dubbed as “apartheid in education.” But congratulations to the private schools are in order and the results should be a further reminder that the VAT on private education should be urgently reviewed. WPA also notes that the appointment of a Private School Coordinator at the Ministry of Education was one of the bold initiatives put in place by Dr. Roopnaraine.

Despite the gap between the output from private and public schools, the latter must be congratulated for showing some degree of improvement this year. But even as we do so, WPA would like to draw attention to the many students who are left behind. We believe that this condition has a lot to do with the larger socio-economic condition of the poor. Government must pay more attention to the social environment in which our children are expected to learn and excel.

WPA would be remiss if it did not draw attention to the linkage between these improved results and the removal of Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine ostensibly for unsatisfactory performance. If performance is measured by tangible outcomes, Dr. Roopnaraine clearly did not perform too badly. WPA wishes to place on record its deep appreciation for the efforts undertaken by Dr. Roopnaraine to arrest the deep crisis in our education system whose roots go back decades.  In addition to the Initiatives alluded to above, Dr. Roopnaraine also reintroduced a music programme in schools, instituted school audits, started ground work for a proper PR unit at the Ministry, introduced universal prayer and prioritizing national songs in schools. Finally, the Minister was able to bring much needed order to the very corrupted school placement system by streamlining placement.

These improved results seem to suggest that the President may have acted pre-maturely in removing him from that ministry. Perhaps some public acknowledgement of an error in judgement would go a long way towards repairing what borders on a questioning of Dr Roopnaraine’s competence.

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