By Lakhram Bhagirat
Inadequate access to valuable and updated information is severely affecting the quality of education delivered in the Amerindian village of Chenapau in Region 8 (Potaro-Siparuni).
The village, located some 29 miles up the Potaro River, has a Primary School with 8 teachers and 120 pupils. The school also has a Nursery level and serves the Four Zones of the Chenapau Village.
This publication sat down with Head Teacher, Drucilla Mc Garrell and parents of children to get a better understanding of how education is delivered in the remote community.
“We are encountering difficulties in delivering education at the school because we do not get access to adequate updated information and there is a need for training of teachers – in terms of teaching methods and many other things. We need to be exposed to updated information,” Mc Garrell said.
According to her, they would receive teaching materials from the Region Eight Department of Education but quite often, the textbooks are not adequate or in most cases outdated. This, she says, shows in the performance of the students. “The performance (of the students) is not so good, it’s about average; and we believe that if we get support in terms of guidance, in terms of (Education Department) Officers coming to visit and guide the teachers on the way forward, we will be more equipped and in a position to perform better,” she opined.
Mc Garrell told this reporter that of the eight teachers in the school, two are trained by the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), four are untrained and two are from the Peace Corps Voluntary Service Overseas programme.
There is the call for the teachers to receive some developmental training to better their delivery of the curriculum. The teachers at the school do not have the necessary requirements to get into the CPCE’s Teachers Training Programme and, as such, they are left in the system with little or no developmental access.
The Head Teacher said she would encourage her staff to seek professional development but because of their remote location and very little access to information, the process is quite often a tedious one. “I have teachers who would try to go and write CSEC but they are not getting to go to any lessons…they try on their own and I think there is a need to have somebody to teach them so they can have this proper foundation to go on to CPCE,” she related.
“…I never went to secondary school; I did GBETTP (Guyana Basic Education Teacher Training Project)-that was a foundation to get into CPCE. That was very good and if the Government of Guyana can put in place something for Region 8 teachers to have that kind of programme to give them the foundation to go into CPCE I believe that will be very good move,” Mc Garrell urged.
The residents of the community are also calling on the government to provide some sort of transportation for their children who have to attend school in Paramakatoi since they would have to walk for two days to get to school and two days to return home, every term.