[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine says the rest of the region faces the same challenges as Guyana when it comes to educating the nation’s youth.
During his address at the opening of the 27th meeting of the Council on Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Thursday, July 16 at the CARICOM headquarters in Guyana, the Education Minister noted that the creation of a CARICOM 2030 Strategy for Human Resource Development, could not have come in a timelier season.
According to Dr Roopnaraine, what has been a revelation for him is that the briefing document for the meeting confirms that “the problems we face at the Ministry of Education of Guyana are shared across the region. The statement on the findings presented to the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting indicates that we are perhaps in a state of pre-crisis in education.”
According to the document, “The presentation painted a disturbing empirical and statistical picture of systemic failure and lamented in particular the inherent inefficiencies and wastage in the systems, highlighting the less than optimum outcomes for students…”
Dr Roopnaraine pointed out that after he took up his portfolio as Education Minister less than two months ago, it became clear that Guyana’s education was failing large sections of our youth demographic and that it was imperative to effect significant reforms in the education sector.
“While a number of Guyana’s students has consistently performed creditably and, in some cases, outstandingly in the CSEC and CAPE examinations, this has not distracted us from identifying some worrying trends in the underperformance of our students overall. My first act was to commission a comprehensive operational audit of our schools throughout our 11 educational districts as a precursor to what will be an extensive Commission of Inquiry into the state of public education in Guyana; our findings so far have revealed some endemic issues,” the Education Minister noted.
He made the point that large sums of monies are budgeted every year for the education sector across most territories but it does not necessarily reflect external inputs.
“For example, the US$150 million IDB-funded ten-year programme to overhaul the Trinidadian education system between 1999 and 2009. It is clear that we must look deeper into the problems that plague education in the region.”
As it relates to the wider issue of human resource development, Dr Roopnaraine explained that one of the critical challenges currently faced has to do with how they effectively manage development-related research at both the national and regional level.
“For example, the lessons of the Trinidadian and Jamaican education system reforms would no doubt be invaluable to how we in Guyana undertake our own reform, yet there is no established regional mechanism via which my research, development and planning personnel can readily access those findings. Functional cooperation in this sense has had severe limitations, despite its relative successes in specific areas such as health and sport for example.”
He further noted, “Inextricably linked to the concept of regional research integration, which is in essence what I am recommending, is the issue of ICT development. The nature of ICT at present, from cloud computing to social media, represents a tremendous opportunity for us in CARICOM — if I may be forgiven for paraphrasing Martin Carter – to collect our scattered skeleton, an opportunity unprecedented in the history of the integration process. There are however challenges which remain, both in policy and in practice. The wide disparity in bandwidth availability across the region is one hurdle that we must seek to overcome with some urgency.”