Over 75% of absentee children back in school through ‘Operation Recovery’

Education Officers conducting outreach activities today for 'Operation Recovery' in Supenaam Creek, Essequibo Coast, Region Two

The Ministry of Education’s “Operation Recovery” programme has seen more than three-quarters of students who were absent from the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) mock examination earlier this year, returning to school.

The Ministry had undertaken the outreach initiative last month to meet with students who failed to show up for the preparatory exam. It also targeted students whose record showed continued absence from school.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand said on Monday that the Ministry is continuing the activity to ensure every school-age child returns to active learning in the classroom.

“I don’t think people understood that it was never intended to be a one day or one week activity. Operation recovery is going to be a prolonged activity,” she told journalists following the launch of Guyana’s first artificial intelligence programme ‘Spark’ at the National Centre of Educational Resources Development (NCERD).

Education officials have been fanning out across the country, visiting communities to locate absentee pupils. During the visits they sought to determine the reasons for students’ absenteeism.

“The actual operation recovery, going to homes and finding children was extremely successful. So, we have gotten more than three-quarters of the kids back in school and you would recall that we have started with a number of about 1,300 that were absent.”

“We saw reasons ranging from poverty to carelessness to extremes. We saw children not coming out because they were babysitting other younger siblings, these are 10-and-11-year-olds doing the babysitting. We saw persons who did not even know there were exams or there was this assessment. We saw children who have been out so long they were heading towards being dropouts.”

To ensure that students who returned to school remain, the ministry has implemented a series of practical, sustained measures including a consolidated curriculum, which will see students revisiting previous’ grades work before proceeding to their current grade curriculum.

Provision of textbooks, re-training of teachers, use of technology in the classroom and ‘Operation Recovery’ will continue to counter the learning loss by the nation’s children. [Extracted and Modified from DPI]