Some 14 more Nursery schools of the Deep South Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu, Upper Essequibo), will be introduced to the Quality Bilingual Education Programme for Wapichan Children.
The programme’s expansion is currently in the assessment phase, according to Marti De Souza, the Deputy Chief Education Officer (DCEO) with responsibility for Amerindian and Hinterland Education Development.
During a telephone call with the News Room, the DCEO said only three nursery schools offer the programme in the Rupununi at this time.
“Overall we want to have 17 nursery schools on board with the programme, it’s very small at the moment just three nursery schools have it running but we are expanding,” De Souza stated.
This programme is to preserve the Indigenous language and culture while ensuring that students with little fluency in English are taught in both their native language and English.
English is often considered a second language to children from the communities who enter into the government’s education system. Often times, they are disenfranchised in more ways than one.
By encouraging the students who are fluent in the language but have challenges with grasping subjects taught in the state’s language -English- to learn through both means will boost their understanding and in turn, the grade average in the region. It can potentially be incorporated at other regions.
De Souza explained that the expected expansion has to be assessed from the ground level before these schools can come on board. He however, said that schools want to be on board but an assessment of how the schools will incorporate the programme has to be conducted first.
“A team has to go into South Rupununi and to meet with the folks on the ground before we can expand. We are looking at going into Rupununi within a week or two so before this month is out we should have a better picture as to where we are going with the expansion of this project.”
Back in 2017, the Wapishana nation in Region Nine embarked on the programme to develop quality bilingual education for school students there. It is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the Toshaos of Deep South Rupununi.
Last year the Education Minister, Priya Manickchand, promised that the programme in the Rupununi would be expanded.