School-aged mothers would now have a better chance of completing their education. This is a result of the Ministry of Education recognising the need for an approach to the re-integration of teenage mothers into the school system.
This is among a number of areas of concerns that were identified to be confronted in 2016 as the Education Ministry seeks to overcome the challenges and launch new initiatives for the enhancement of the education system. The sum of $40.3 billion has been allocated to the sector in the 2016 budget.
This improvement would eventually impact the system’s ultimate goal, resulting in the production of ‘better all-round citizens’ and the creation of ‘a better society’, Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine explained.
The minister was at the time making his contribution to the 2016 National Budget debate. He was addressing the House on the focus of the Education Ministry’s agenda.
Other areas of concerns identified to be addressed by the ministry include: the need for psycho-social support programmes for schools and residential facilities, provision of more opportunities for continuous professional development and the widening of the scope of the Learning Channel and the ministry’s radio broadcasts, expansion of the Skills for Life Training programme generally, with emphasis on the hinterland areas and, the need for accommodation for teachers in the hinterland. The sum of $ 80M has been budgeted for the latter.
Minister Roopnaraine noted that a number of initiatives are envisaged and provided for in the 2016 Budget in response to these challenges, and in pursuit of the educational objective, which the APNU + AFC Coalition government has set for realisation by 2020.
He explained that some of the initiatives will unfold at the level of policy formulation while others have advanced to the level of programmatic engagement.
From a programmatic perspective, he explained that the Breakfast Initiative will be rolled out in four coastal schools, inclusive of Buxton and Enmore, even as its implementation continues in the hinterland and will be expanded to cater for 81% of the hinterland schools. For this programme a total of $1.9B has been budgeted. As a consequence jobs would also be created for approximately 200 persons.
Additional boats to transport children to and from schools will also be acquired, and according to the Education Minister, Canje, Region Six has already been earmarked as the next recipient.
Continuing along the path of enhancing welfare, the minister explained that $30M has been allocated for the acquisition of footwear to be distributed, primarily, in the hinterland schools.
A total of 31,500 students are slated to benefit from this programme.
The introduction of more schools’ counsellors is also to be undertaken and rotation of social workers introduced at schools that have dormitories. The Education Ministry has also already embarked on the establishment of a Public Relations Unit which will better inform the public about the ongoing efforts and new initiatives of the Ministry in its quest to improve the education system and ultimately to assure Guyanese of a good life.
The Ministry is also actively pursuing World Bank funding for a successor project for the University of Guyana (UG). Minister Roopnaraine explained that the Bank has also indicated its preparedness to consider a new project to facilitate a complete schools’ curriculum review.
In addition, a facilities audit would also be undertaken in 2016. This assessment should provide information on the deficits of each and every public education institution with regard to the stipulated standards, Minister Roopnaraine explained. He told the House that in 2016, some audits were already conducted from the manpower and facilities’ perspective.
Meanwhile, from the standpoint of policy, the ministry will also be embarking on quite a few new initiatives, according to a report from the Government Information Agency (GINA). Amongst those will be a policy in relation to the reintegration of teenage mothers into the school system, Minister Roopnaraine said. He added that policy initiatives will also be undertaken in relation to how teachers can be recruited and retained in the hinterland, and in this regard data collection is already being done, so that evidence-based policy could be formulated.
On the agenda for policy formulation, as well, is the issue of utilisation of school facilities for extra-curricular activities, with a literacy programme and a technical and vocational programme being highest amongst them.
The development of a new appraisal instrument for assessing teachers should also be completed in 2016, the Minister said.
Of the sector’s total allocation, the sum of $4.3 B has been earmarked for infrastructural development. Included in this aspect is the completion of the Kato Secondary School complex and construction of a new building for the Peter’s Hall Primary, South Road Nursery, and the Aurora and Golden Grove Secondary schools.
The sum of $2.2B has been allocated for post-secondary education, for equipping and upgrading technical institutes and training centres. UG has been allocated the sum of $3.2B for its upgrade.