President David Granger on Friday presented a cheque valued $1 million as part of the National Endowment for Science and Technology’s (NEST) contribution, to the New Amsterdam Secondary (Multilateral) School to boost the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
In presenting the cheque to Head Teacher, Ms. Vanessa Jacobs, the President told the students that regional education is an investment in children’s future. He said it will equip them with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes necessary to secure employment and to provide for their families.
The Head of State reminded that education, from nursery to university, was provided free of cost from 1976, adding that the right to free education is entrenched as an entitlement in the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, the country’s supreme law.
“Education will be provided free of cost in the Decade of Development… [It] will be accorded the highest priority during the Decade,” President Granger said, while noting that the East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) is an educational pacesetter.
Additionally, the President said the revenues earned from the country’s petroleum production will not be squandered but will be deployed, primarily, to provide a first-class education for children.
“Free education is an entitlement…Free university education will be restored during the Decade of Development. No Guyanese child will have to pay for education at the University of Guyana,” he assured.
The President also noted that “Education is not just a job for the Government”, but is the obligation of the family, the school and the community or village. “I want to see the day when every village has a school,” he said, adding that efforts will be made during the Decade of Development to achieve this.
“The Decade of Development will ensure that every child is enrolled in school; every child attends school regularly, every child graduates from school and every child is supported in his or her education,” the President said.
Further, he said, the Decade of Development will promote STEM education in order to better equip students for the knowledge-based societies of the future. In this light, he added, there must be a corps of teachers committed to providing quality education to children.
President Granger said education is a most important public service noting that it is a public good that is essential to the development of the country’s regions. He noted too that Guyana’s regions must be strong if the country is to provide a ‘good life’ to its citizens.
“Education will provide the skills necessary for employment and economic development,” he said, while noting that the foundation for strengthening regional education was laid soon after independence.
He said six multilateral schools were established across five administrative regions: Anna Regina Multilateral school in the Pomeroon-Supenaam (Region Two); Bladen Hall Multilateral School and the Bygeval Multilateral School, both in the Demerara-Mahaica (Region Five); Christianburg-Wismar Multilateral School, in the Upper Demerara-Berbice (Region Ten); New Amsterdam Multilateral School, in the East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) and the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School in Georgetown.
Additionally, the President said regional education will generate the human skills needed to revive and drive village industries especially mirco-, small- and medium-sized enterprises which create jobs and provide household incomes.
“Regional education is an investment in our regions’ future. It can produce a corps of scientists: agronomists, architects, biologists, botanists, chemists, doctors, epidemiologists, engineers, environmentalists, geneticists, geologists, hydrologists, physicists, software developers and zoologists which are needed to ensure economically strong Regions,” President Granger said.
Regional education has been benefitting from public educational expenditure. Government has spent more than $170B on education since taking office.
Moreover, public education is being improved through overarching educational policy of Every Child in School (ECIS). This policy is aimed at producing ‘A’ students- ‘A’ for access, ‘A’ for attendance and ‘A’ for attainment.
“Every child must have access to education including the visually-and physically challenged,” the President said, while adding that Regions must ensure that every child attends school and stays in school.
The Public Education Transport Service (PETS) which was started four years ago, has been assisting in this regard. To date, twenty-nine buses, ten boats and more than 4000 bicycles have been distributed through the programme.
The East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) has benefitted from five buses which provide free transportation to children.
“I long for the day when every child passes the National Grade Six Assessment; no failures. Every child who enters school must pass… I am interested in equality,” the President said.
“Children are being supported to improve their performance. Internet access is being expanded to schools across all our regions. Science and Information Communications Technology (ICT) laboratories are being improved, including through initiatives such as the NEST.
Meanwhile, President Granger said the New Amsterdam Secondary (Multilateral) School is an exemplar of the extension of secondary school. He described it as one of the Region’s premier schools.
The President said the school performed commendably at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) 2019 examinations and earned an overall pass rate of 93.1 per cent with 100 per cent pass rates in Agricultural Science, Electronic Document Preparation and Management, Family and Resource Management, Food Nutrition and Health, Industrial Technology, Office Administration, Physical Education and Sport, Principles of Accounts, Principles of Business, Social Studies, Spanish, Technical Drawing and Theatre Arts.
The President said excellence in secondary education has been exemplified, historically, by the group of schools he refers to as the ‘six sisters’ namely, the Berbice High School, the Bishops’ High, Queens College, St. Joseph High, St. Rose’s High, and St. Stanislaus College, all over one hundred years old.
“There is no reason why we must only have six top secondary schools,” he said, noting that with the right support from parents and communities, schools in the East Berbice-Corentyne can equal or surpass the performance of the country’s top secondary schools.
President Granger said he looks forward to the transformation in regional education which will result in schools of excellence across the country.
“This is not a dream; this is a plan,” he asserted, adding that efforts are being made to build a better and brighter future by establishing an education system where talent would be allowed to emerge, effort encouraged and excellence emulated.
President Granger, acknowledging that transformation takes time, said public education is on the right path and he is confident that the investment Government is making “will enable us to bequeath to future generations a richer legacy than we inherited”.
Similarly, Minister of Education, Ms. Nicolette Henry said education plays a central role in the growth of any country’s development as it provides the opportunities for individuals to improve their lives and become successful members of society.
“Building this beautiful country of ours is the responsibility of all of us and so we in the Ministry of Education are in the habit of listening to and dialoguing with our constituencies to ensure the Government’s vision for education is aligned to the aspirations and needs of all those on the frontline, in the struggle for quality education,” Minister Henry said.
The Minister reminded that it takes a village to raise a child and called on all stakeholders to work together to ensure that all children can benefit. Education month is being observed under the theme, “Education, the key to national development”.
Chief Education Officer (CEO) Dr. Marcel Hutson; Mayor of New Amsterdam, Her Worship Winifred Heywood; Regional Executive Officer (REO) Ms. Kim Williams-Stephen; Regional Education Officer, Ms. Bhagmatie La Cruz and Ms. Barbara Pilgrim were also present at the school. (Ministry of the Presidency)