New Amsterdam, Skeldon Line Path Secondary Schools get smart classrooms

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Education Minister Priya Manickchand cutting the ceremonial ribbon officially commissioning the Skeldon Line Path Secondary School smart classroom

Region Six now has smart classrooms in public schools for the first time. Today, the Honourable Minister of Education Priya Manickchand commissioned smart classrooms at the New Amsterdam Secondary School and the Skeldon Line Path Secondary.

While at the New Amsterdam Secondary School Minister Manickchand said that she was very excited to be commissioning the smart classroom in the region making it the first such facility commissioned in the region at a public school while the Skeldon Line Path Secondary School’s smart classroom is the second in the region. The two classrooms are the fifth and sixth smart classrooms to be commissioned across Guyana.

Despite the joyous occasion, the Education Minister said that we must be cognizant of the difficult experiences being faced by Guyana and the world at large due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that the pandemic has been a sobering experience for all and has had a tremendous impact on the education sector.

She said that COVID-19 forced schools to be closed and showed how important technology is to education delivery. However, even though the Ministry of Education has a strategic focus on installing smart classrooms, Minister Manickchand said that there is an equal thrust to increase the number of trained teachers in the education system.

“Even as we do the smart classrooms across the country and improve facilities to access online teaching, we need to ensure that we pay attention to the training of teachers,” the Education Minister remarked.

She said that the two go hand in hand. Minister Manickchand reported that from Monday the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) will begin online training of teachers. He said that this approach has allowed the college to increase its enrolment from approximately 500 students last year to over 2000 new students this year.

A teacher teaching the topic line graphs to a student of the Skeldon Line Path Secondary School

She explained that the sector would have moved from 32 per cent trained teachers in the 90s to 70 per cent over the last 15 years. Moving forward, Minister Manickchand said, “We commit to you that we will move to 100 per cent trained teachers in the public education system during this term in office. So while we are setting up smart classrooms we are training teachers.”

Minister Manickchand said that the smart classroom will allow the schools to teach lessons to students in any part of the country including the hinterland. This will serve to reduce the disparity in education delivery between the hinterland and coastal schools.

“We are building a programme in the Ministry to ensure that the smart classrooms are not just in schools but are being used effectively for the benefit of the students, teachers and the wider community,” the Minister registered.

Minister Manickchand added that these activities to commission smart classrooms are bigger than having headlines in the news and likes on social media. She said that these programmes will be analysed and measured to ensure they are being used effectively to produce the desired outcomes.

Regional Chairman, Mr. Permaul Armogan said that visual learning and the use of technology are extremely important to move forward in the education process. He said that the research has shown that technology-assisted learning has become the better method of teaching.

A teacher of the New Amsterdam Secondary School giving a demonstration to students and teachers on some of the features of the smart board in the classroom

Headteacher of the New Amsterdam Secondary School, Ms Vanessa Jacobs during her remarks said that her school does not have a physics teacher presently but with the smart classroom now ready to use, her school can benefit from the assistance of a physics teacher from another school such as Queen’s College in Georgetown.

The smart classrooms are equipped with items such as an interactive board, a television that allows teachers and students to connect and interact remotely. Motion and voice-activated cameras complete with a voice recognition feature are also installed to ensure effective communication between participants.