By Tracey Khan Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Having once been the leading secondary school in Guyana, President’s College is today (September 11), celebrating its 29th anniversary.
But are they doing so with all their stripes? Some say yes others say no.
Amid a series of planned activities, School Principal Carlyn Canterbury, in a somewhat contrary statement, says the institution’s performance academically is favorable; saying there have been improvements over the years.
In the Education Ministry’s most recent analyst, the senior secondary school has not been listed as one of the top five 6th Form schools and this has been the case for several years now.
When asked about the apparent decline in the schools performance over the years, the principal stated that, “I don’t see it as a decline, I really don’t see it as a decline because remember were dealing with stats and if you see the stats the performance has been constant.”
Canterbury went on to say that the school’s infrastructure is at its best, “not as it has ever been, it will never get back to when the school was built, but there were times when the infrastructure was bad, presently lots of work was done at President’s College within the past three years and for me the infrastructure is good…for this reopening of school we had $4 M electrical works done to our administrative block because every classroom was properly lit.”
She expressed satisfaction with the subvention that the school is receiving from Government; saying it is adequate.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) Abdual Wahid Wickham says the school is operating below its capacity and instead of being self-sustainable it is dependent on Government’s subvention, something that the said should have never occurred.
He attributed this dependency to the deterioration Agricultural component of the school which was the main financial contribution.
Wickam told iNews that corruption at the administrative and Board level along with the Ministry of Education is the cause for the school’s deterioration.
“Broad members and admin officers and in some cases the principal because the principal is the ultimate manager are involved in corrupt practices and bad management…some of which trickle from the Ministry of Education.”
He recalled that the staff was downsized and the institution was left without adequate workforce at management levels.
He agreed that the annual budget for the school by Government is adequate. “If those monies are managed properly without corruption we can see a lot out of President’s College and again the slippage is coming from the Ministry of Education right down…we need to have transparency and accountability as long as they get that the school will turn around.”
Minister of Education Priya Manickchand recently said that President’s College has not lost its ‘stripes’.
Manickchand recalled that some 20 years ago President’s College was the top school but it is no longer functioning in that capacity.
She noted that PC is actually serving more persons now than before, since in the past and acting as a boarding school.
President’s College, opened in 1985, was founded by the late President of Guyana, Forbes Burnham, who launched the project in 1983 but died before the school opened.
Students used to be selected from the top two percent of candidates in the Secondary School Entrance Examination (SSEE) and subjected to an evaluation process, including interviews with school personnel.