Quality Bilingual Education prog. marks 4th anniversary

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The Quality Bilingual Education Programme (QBEP) marked its four year anniversary last Saturday with cultural performances from students in the programme.

A ceremony was held at the St. John Berchman’s Catholic Church in Sawariwau, South Rupununi, to commemorate the anniversary.

Representatives from deep South communities, officials from the Ministry of Education and parents, teachers, and students from the bilingual nursery schools in Maruranau, Sawariwau, and Karaudarnau attended the ceremony.

A release from QBEP coordinators said “those who attended were treated to a variety of wonderful cultural performances from students in the programme. These cultural performances highlighted the depth and impact of the programme in building the confidence of Wapichan children to speak their mother tongue and celebrate their rich cultural heritage.”

Further, the occasion provided an opportunity for the Intercultural Bilingual Education Organization (IBEO), which is constituted under the aegis of the Jesuits in Guyana, to formally thank the resource team members who have been voluntarily contributing cultural content for the programme and the nursery teachers for their hard work.

The QBEP is a collaborative effort between the local communities of the South Rupununi, the IBEO and the MoE. The programme aims to provide an inclusive, equitable and quality education which affirms and respects the culture and identity of indigenous children in Guyana’s Hinterland.

In his presentation, the coordinator of the QBEP, Silverius Perry, emphasized that even though the programme is celebrating four years of operation, it has been more than 10 years in the making. He urged those present to imagine what can be achieved in another 40 years given the positive results in such a short time, the release said.

During 2009-2011, the Jesuits serving in Rupununi asked the communities about their dreams and a quality and culturally relevant education emerged as a priority. A series of consultations with Wapichan communities gave birth to the QBEP. In July 2018, a Memorandum of Understanding between the MoE and the QBEP was signed to allow a two-year pilot of the programme in nursery schools in Maruranau, Sawariwau, and Karaudarnau.

Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, the programme has continued and due to the positive feedback, the MoE has decided to expand the programme to an additional 14 South Rupununi nursery schools pending an evaluation in 2023.

The IBEO hopes to extend the programme into the primary level and conversations with the MoE about piloting Grades One and Two are in progress, it further said.

The IBEO is steered by a core team comprising Fr. Joel Thompson, SJ, core team chair, Fr. Ronald Fernandes SJ, superior of the Jesuits in the Interior, Mr. Silverius Perry, administrative coordinator, Ms. Leah Casimero, academic coordinator, Ms. Marva Hawksworth, education consultant, Ms. Michella Abraham-Ali (DCEO, NCN) Ms. Cheryl Stephens, Head Teacher in Karaudarnau, Mr. Gregory Thomas, Wapichan Literacy Tutor and Fr. Paul Martin, SJ.

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