Georgetown, Guyana – (September 4, 2019) The Department of Environment, today, handed over the revised Curriculum Guides for Social Studies, Integrated Science, Agricultural Science and English to the Ministry of Education’s National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD).
Three private schools – Mae’s Schools, Marian Academy and School of the Nations – have indicated a willingness to participate in a pilot project, once the changes are accepted by NCERD.
The modifications to the guides were undertaken by an Environment-in-Education Mainstreaming Working Group, which was set up by the Department in October 2018, under the Strengthening the Technical Capacities to Mainstream and Monitor Rio Convention Implementation through Policy Coordination, and targeted Grades ones to nine.
NCERD Director, Ms. Jennifer Cumberbatch received copies of the guides during a simple ceremony held at Herdmanston Lodge, Queenstown, Georgetown. She thanked the DoE for the efforts made, before stressing on the importance of these revised guides to the development of the nation’s children.
“NCERD is the home of curriculum so we are really grateful and thankful at this time,” she said, adding that from what she has seen thus far, the modifications are “really good.”
Meanwhile, Chair of the Working Group Mr. Alvin Doris informed that the grouping comprised specialists in four key disciplines within the field of environment: Agriculture and Forestry, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Land Geology and Geography. He explained that these persons reviewed the schools’ curriculum guides in the aforementioned subject areas to establish whether there was “comprehensive environmental coverage …and as you would imagine there was little to none because our schools’ curriculum had not been revised in part of decades.”
He stressed that it is now up to NCERD to embrace the modifications made by the Department, which captures its vision for what the schools’ curriculum should represent in keeping with the Department’s environmental coverage.
Additionally, Project Manager of the Rio Mainstreaming Project, Ms. Michelle Klass said the exercise which culminated with today’s ceremony “would see our children benefiting from an updated curriculum that incorporates not only the Rio Conventions that the project is focusing on, but other important aspects of the environment including our Green State Development Strategy.”
The four-year project which is funded by the Government of Guyana (GoG), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is intended to strengthen the technical capacities of agencies and personnel in mainstreaming and monitoring the achievement of the Rio Conventions. The three RIO Conventions are: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
Ms. Klass said that mainstreaming the environment into our curriculum is one of the major outputs of the project. There is an entire component that addresses this aspect she said, adding that the Department has since developed an education module that will be utilised to develop a manual to train teachers at the secondary level in both the public and private sectors.
She informed too that the Department has developed a user-friendly website which caters for the young population and is currently working on establishing an Environmental Information Management and Monitoring System, which is a national platform for the public to access environmental information.
“This platform will seek to establish a network of existing environmental databases in Guyana to boost and to share environmental data. The environmental data from this platform is expected to be accessed by the public and be utilised to make better decisions in our day-to-day planning, in our reporting on the conventions as well as to have information readily available for reporting on the Rio Conventions,” Ms. Klass said.
Ms. Onika Stellingburg, the Stakeholder Management Coordinator at the Department of Environment, who also made remarks, said the Green State Development Strategy prioritises building the human capital. In noting that the Department sees education as integral to the development of the country’s human capital, Ms. Stellingburg said that the modification of the guides fit into this.
She said one of the priority actions is to ensure that the Department fully implements curriculum changes in keeping with its sustainable education agenda, the objective being to ensure that students learn key topics such as agriculture, energy, water, disaster risk management, biodiversity, environmental education and climate change and have a greater appreciation for the environment. She posited that the curriculum should also be appropriately modified for hinterland students, particularly where the Indigenous languages are still being used.
Additionally, Ms. Ivy Callender, Vice Principal of Marian Academy, reminded that her school places a lot of emphasis on caring for the environment and in so doing has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency in the execution of several projects.
“We are pleased to be included as one of the schools to pilot this reform curriculum, where the concepts and the values that we want our children to learn of now will be passed on in a formal setting because for us at Marian, we do it informally, incidentally,” she said.
Ms. Callender also said that with this modified curriculum, the school will be able to work with children in the classrooms. She then assured the DoE that the school will implement it and give timely feedback.
Also present were several members of the working group and Ms. Sandra Persaud, Curriculum Development Officer, NCERD.