Georgetown, Guyana – (December 14, 2017) President David Granger, today, charged the 2017 graduating class of the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) to focus their energies on serving and loving their country passionately; noting that people who embrace the teaching profession are pivotal to realising the the aspiration of quality education and a cohesive nation of “One people, One nation and One destiny”. The Head of State made these remarks at the CPCE’s 83rd graduating ceremony, where he announced a 66 percent and 52 percent increase in stipend for resident and non-resident students respectively. This increase will see resident trainees receiving $9,160, up from $5,500, while non-resident students will receive $11,440, up from $7,500, a 52 percent increase from financial year 2018.

The President urged the graduating class to work collaboratively with the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), the Ministry of Education, Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs) and civil society to solve the problems that still persist in the education sector. “You the teachers are the foundation of the public education system. Without you we cannot achieve our aim of quality education… My administration’s policy is to ensure that teachers have the tools to be efficient and effective in the classroom,” he said.

With education being of key areas of focus, the President encouraged the graduating class not to become complacent, but to pursue higher studies at the University of Guyana and beyond. He made reference to the provisions of the Constitution of Guyana, which guarantees every child free primary and secondary education in schools owned or funded by the State. Further, the Constitution, in Article 27 (2) mandates the State, “to provide education that would include curricula designed to reflect the cultural diversities of Guyana and the disciplines that are necessary to prepare students to deal with social issues and to meet the challenges of the modern technological age.”

“It is because I am committed to the Constitution and I am concerned about teacher training, that I came to visit you on July 26. I came to learn from you, I came to listen to you, I came to look at the College to see what the College needed… I have taken, therefore, because of my interactions with the College and my visits to educational institutions around the country, certain decisions for improving the conditions at this College. I’ve realised that improvements have to be made. I have done so because I feel that students must be comfortable in their accommodation, they must be confident in their studies and they must be educated in an environment conducive to academic achievement,” the President said.

In this regard, apart from the increased stipend, the Government has directed $50M, which was provided by the Chinese Embassy in Georgetown towards improving CPCE’s science laboratories and procuring equipment. Additionally, the Ministry of the Presidency also made available the sum of $1M in July of this year, to enhance the information technology laboratory. This, along with the One Laptop Per Teacher (OPLT) programme, which was launched in 2016 at CPCE, are all part of the President’s efforts to push STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) education.

“Guyana needs agronomists, biologists, botanists, chemists, engineers and geologists and ICT specialists if we are to develop this country. This is a beautiful country and I hope that some of you get the opportunity to serve in all of the 10 Regions…The teaching profession is one of vast opportunity but it is also one of great responsibility. You are also in a position to lead and serve the next generation,” the President said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Chief Education Officer, Ms. Ingrid Trotman who offered remarks on behalf of Minister of Education, Ms. Nicolette Henry, who was taken up with Parliamentary duties, reminded the graduating class that they will be at the forefront of the new wave of change that will be taking place in classrooms across the country and will be laying the foundation for future leaders.

“You make a difference in a child’s life everyday… You passion for you teaching subjects should be infectious, your in-depth knowledge of your teaching subjects should be permeate every aspect of your being, making you the living one-stop shop for students to learn and be inspired,” she said.

Principal of the College, Ms. Viola Rowe in her report informed that today’s graduation exercise will see a total of 468 graduate teachers (88 percent are females and 12 percent are males) being inducted into the education system. Of this number, 126 are trained in early childhood education, 164 in primary education and 178 in secondary education.

Moreover, this year, a total of 36 students graduated with distinction, 423 attained credit and three students graduated with pass.

The Principal said that “as an educational approach STEAM has much value in guiding inquiry, critical thinking and discussions thereby in resulting in students, who are empowered to be creative, to take risks, to be persistent in problem solving and to engage in experiential learning. It is on this premise that the administration and staff of CPCE asserts that all 468 of you our novice teachers, are leaving us as developing innovators, learners and leaders. Those attributes, along with the softer skills such as love, respect, tolerance and appreciation that you have developed at the College, are all tools that would help you to nurture your charges to be nutrients for Guyana’s Green Economy,” she said.

This year’s best graduating student and recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence is Ms. Nirupa Manroop, who was presented with a plaque, a laptop and printer, a certificate and a $20,000 book voucher.

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