Georgetown, Guyana – (September 30, 2019): President David Granger, this morning, attended the opening ceremony of the Ministry of Education’s ‘Education Exposition’ held at Durban Park.
The Head of State, who proclaimed three years ago that the second Friday in September will be known as National Education Day, said, “Education is an entitlement” from which all Guyanese children must benefit.
“Education is central to your lives, your families, your communities and to the country. National Education Month is one of the most important celebrations we could have in the entire calendar year,” he said.
President Granger said every effort will be made to make the teaching profession one of the best professions in the country. “That is why the trainees at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) know that their stipends have been increased from what it was in 2015 and we are going to increase it again next year. This year the stipend increased to 66 per cent from what it was in 2015,” he said.
The annual budget has since been increased by 64 per cent from 2015 and has seen Government spending $52billion annually on education, more than any other sector. Additionally, teachers’ salaries have increased with the lowest paid teacher now receiving more than 45 per cent more than he or she received in 2015. Since taking office, over 8, 000 teachers have received laptops through the One Laptop Per Teacher (OLPT) initiative which enables teachers to have information technology at their fingertips.
“Students you are in the right field. I want more of you in the teaching profession,” the President said while addressing trainees of the CPCE, who were also present at the Education Exposition.
The Head of State said education is an entitlement and vowed that qualified Guyanese will start benefitting from free education at the University of Guyana.
“I have vowed to re-introduce that entitlement…free education from nursery to university. You don’t have to migrate; you don’t have to go away. We are going to build a first-class education system. Every Guyanese child will be educated on all four levels; nursery, primary, secondary and university at the state’s expense- it is your entitlement,” the President said.
President Granger explained that during petroleum production in 2020, part of the money will be placed into the Natural Resource Fund but a substantial percentage will be spent on public education to ensure that Guyana becomes an ‘education nation’.
The President said Government will launch a Decade of Development from 2020-2029 while noting that both students and teachers will be the beneficiaries of that decade. “Ten years from now, your lives will be transformed because you would be exposed to the best system of education that this country could afford,” the Head of State said.
President Granger assured that investing in Guyanese students is the best investment Government can make.
“Once you are educated, this economy will expand. We want highly trained, highly educated workers and you will be able to go out there and deliver quality performance in whatever field you choose. Employment opportunities will expand and we will want to make sure everyone of you, if you can’t be employed by some agency or corporation, you’d be able to employ yourself by expanding enterprise. You’d be able to go to manufacturing, agro-processing, mining and other forms of production,” he stated.
President Granger assured that the future is bright “but most of all we want to create an education system which emphasises equality”.
“You cannot be equal to the next boy or girl if you are uneducated, if you drop out of school or are unemployed,” the President said, referencing the challenges some hinterland students have to access schools.
“Unfortunately, some of our boys and girls in the hinterland have to travel long distances to get to school. Sometimes, they don’t have the best facilities so we are trying to ensure that the education system, regardless of everything else, is also going to make Guyanese children more equal. Wherever they live, Port Kaituma or Port Mourant they must get the same education. There must be an ‘A’ grade school in every region of this country. I want a Queens College in every region. I want a St. Stanislaus in every region,” President Granger said.
It is the President’s vision that students can aspire to attend secondary schools in their regions that are par excellence with those in Georgetown. “…You won’t have to leave Lethem, Bartica, Mahdia, Mabaruma…you’d be able to stay in your region of birth, residence and get a first-class education without having to come to Georgetown… Children of Guyana, the future is bright. I want to see every child in school… No student should have to leave school without completing Primary or Secondary education. No student should fail to matriculate at the end of his or her secondary education. No student who is qualified should have to pay to go to University of Guyana again,” he said.
Moreover, President David Granger assured the students at the Education Exposition that “…These are not empty promises. This is a plan to make sure that you get the best education that is available in the Caribbean”.
The President said efforts are being made to increase the number of schools with access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and disclosed that currently there are 175 schools with internet connection and plans are in train to equip more schools with internet access.
President Granger urged that both students and teachers become more involved in the sciences. He said he has established the National Endowment for Science and Technology (NEST) which provides much needed support to schools in the area of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
“Once you set up laboratory, once you dedicate your teaching staff to teaching science subjects, I will come along to give you a helping hand,” the President said.
“Guyana is a great place to be and Guyanese are great people and you will inherit a great future,” President Granger told the students.
Similarly, Minister of Education, Dr. Nicolette Henry said education is the most important tool that symbolizes growth in any nation.
“Education lessens the challenges you will face in life. The more knowledge you gain, the more opportunities will open up to allow you to achieve better possibilities in career and personal growth. I can assure you that the Ministry of Education is committed to providing educational opportunities for all sectors of society, thereby delivering on its promise of ‘a good life for all Guyanese’,” the Minister said.
Minister Henry also noted that “education in Guyana is revolutionizing from Nursery to tertiary. Gaps of disparity are being bridged everyday whether by technological advancement or enhancing of professional training and skills and I sincerely promise you this is merely the beginning”.
The Minister of Education said her ministry in line with this year’s theme for Education month “Education: the key to National Development” is committed to strengthening the education system to better prepare students with the skills, knowledge and opportunities they need to succeed in the future.
“Today’s students need 21st Century skills like critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and use of digital technologies. In this regard, the Ministry of Education is currently focusing on reforming the curriculum to aptly prepare and equip our students with these and other skills relevant for the 21st Century. Our 2019 -2030 Education Sector plan is being designed to bridge the disparity that exists between the hinterland and the coast, the implementation of new technologies for the delivery of education, provision of vocational and technical training for out of school youths, thereby giving them a second chance among other critical aspects of educational growth,” she said.
Additionally, Minister Henry disclosed that in an attempt to prepare for Guyana’s new economic reality, the Ministry of Education is focused on implementing programmes in oil and gas at the tertiary, technical and vocational levels and also provide opportunities to train young people at institutions overseas in the oil and gas sector.
“The aim, therefore, of the Ministry of Education is to develop a society where we have skilled professionals,” she said, while noting that it is her Ministry’s desire to provide an education sector designed to allow each child to reach his or her full potential.