A full return to school for all Guyanese students is set for April 25.
This was announced by the Minister of Education Priya Manickchand, who said that each child will have to undergo a literacy diagnosis in the four core subjects – Mathematics, English, Science and Social studies.
The closure of schools two years ago to curb the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 virus, saw a series of challenges across the education sector and now the government is aiming to recover and lessen the burden of learning loss.
“We are now seeing an unfolding [of the effects] across the country and in the ministry, of two years of school closure,” Minister Manickchand told reporters at the sidelines of an event at the National Centre for Education Resource and Development (NCERD).
Preparations are underway for the physical reopening, with the rehabilitation of handwashing stations, washrooms and sanitising booths.
But the Education Minister explained that the full reopening will be a staggered one so as “not to shock the system after this two years of closure so within the first week, [different] grades will be going out back at different days.”
Minister Manickchand said there will be an “assault on illiteracy” and soon a national recovery programme will be launched to tackle this.
“In short, every single student is going to be diagnosed, we are issuing a diagnostic for Mathematics, English, Social Studies and Science.
“Each student will be attended to individually to make sure that we recover from the COVID loss, but the aim is to make sure every single student at Grade Two is a reader,” Minister Manickchand revealed.
To recover from the ramifications of the pandemic, a 20-week consolidated curriculum was implemented, textbooks are being provided at the primary level and teachers are also being re-trained on how to implement this curriculum.
“We expect that you will do the grade before when you go into schools, so students who go into school in September in Grade Four, will really be doing Grade Three’s work and then when they come up in the 20 weeks then they will move on to Grade Four.”
But there have been mixed concerns about the full reopening of schools and the Minister has contended that there is no substitute for face-to-face teaching.
She further said that if they do not act now, there are going to be more learning losses, school dropouts and skills acquired would be forgotten.
Since the start of the pandemic here, more than 7,800 children have been infected and at least 17 have died.
Overall, there have been more than 63,000 cases and a total of 1,226 deaths as concerns continue to mount on the low vaccination rate for children aged 12 to 17.