The Government of Guyana is working assiduously to ensure that education and training opportunities are offered to the citizens in order to realise President David Granger’s vision of Guyana becoming an ‘education nation’. Guyanese who are armed with knowledge, innovative ideas and increased access to modern technologies particularly during the coming Decade of Development, will help to put this nation on a path of sustainable economic and social development.
This edition of Government in Action, which follows closely on the heels of the national observance of Education Month in September, explores three additional avenues of learning offered by the Government of Guyana.
The cost of tertiary education is a heavy burden to bear for recent high school graduates, and even for those working part and full time. The Scholarship Department, housed within the Department of Public Service is working hard to ensure Guyanese have a chance to study locally, regionally and internationally, and at all degree levels at the State’s expense.
Minister of Public Service, Mrs. Tabitha Sarabo-Halley explains:
“The scholarship programme is sort of vast because it deals with the scholarships to the University of Guyana. We [also] look at scholarships overseas as well. We also have bilateral agreements with certain countries. So, we may have scholarships to Romania, for example… scholarships to China, [and] we all know scholarships to Cuba. Then there is the training, which is inter-ministry training.”
The Minister added that all the scholarship information can be found on the Department’s website, https://scholarships.dps.gov.gy/ .
“Depending on what it is that you are hoping to apply for, the requirements would vary…. The Department of Public Service has a scholarship website so persons can get information from the website pertaining to their interest and area of study to see whether or not the Scholarships Department would [be able] assist them,” she said.
The Government of Guyana is eager to match access to education in the hinterland with that on the coastlands. The Department of Public Service does this by partnering with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs.
“We try… to make the scholarships available to all… I’ve actually spoken with Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, [Mrs. Valerie Garrido-Lowe]. [Minister Garrido-Lowe] knows that there are certain applications that will be needed and she’s going to be doing … in the hinterland to ensure persons are aware of these things that are on stream. Once… they have done the application, she will… send them to me so that we’re able to strike a balance between those who are in town and those who are in the hinterland that also will need those scholarships,” she said.
Technical and vocational training
Unfortunately, technical and vocational training opportunities are often overlooked and negatively stigmatised in comparison to its counterpart, traditional academia. The Government of Guyana does not share this view, rather it recognises that technical and vocational training will produce exactly the kind of hands-on skills needed to transform this nation. Director of the Council of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (CTVET), Mr. Floyd Scott explains.
“My primary responsibility as the Director is to ensure that we provide policies and direction for the Minister of Education, [Dr. Nicolette Henry,] who is our subject Minister and ensuring that we fulfil the mandate for [the] national development of our country, and ensuring we confirm to standards and requirements [that] ensure… our industries can be globally competitive; as well as ensuring that our standards that are required for skill certification through the Caribbean regional machinery is adhered to in order to… provide for the issuance of the… Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ),” the Director said.
Mr. Scott explained that while the Council itself does not offer programmes, it serves as the bridge between industry professionals and prospective trainees to properly facilitate creation and implementation of industry -programmes that keep trainees relevant and ready to contribute to the workforce.
“CTVET does not offer programmes. Programmes are provided and are directed as a result of industry needs and it is executed by either the technical industry institutions or by training organisations who will, through CTVET, register to offer programmes that will meet industry standards… TVET brings national and social development to our country. Because of the model that is in place that is competency-based, it [allows] us to ensure that we reach the standard that one might be able to compete globally so that our skilled individuals, and whatever jobs they’re exposed to, would not be limited to only what is within our domain in Guyana, but allows us to meet the standards that are internationally acceptable,” he said.
Mr. Scott highlighted the importance of TVET training saying that it is the fuel of national development.
“[The] industry must recognise that they have full stake in where TVET is going, whether its oil and gas, whether it’s the construction sector, whether its tourism… we have a direct stake in it. Everyone in Guyana must be a TVET practitioner and must be involved in TVET. That’s what I would like to see in the future of Guyana… We can only develop socially and develop as a progressive and a dynamic country through TVET’s full involvement and through TVET being considered as a tool for national development,” he said.
The Bertram Collins College of the Public Service
President Granger envisions a public service that is staffed by persons with integrity. In pursuit of that vision, the Government of Guyana, through the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service (BCCPS), has been educating and training young people between the ages of 17 and 21 and placing them throughout the Public Service as shining examples of good public servants. After completing the year-long course, the cadets earn themselves an entry level position in the Public Service. Senior Executive Director of the BCCPS, Colonel Lawrence Paul explains.
“The College is an institution of excellence which will transform the Public Service to provide the highest quality of service to the citizens of Guyana. That is our vision. Our mission is to provide appropriate learning experiences for all members of the Public Service to equip them with knowledge, skills, and attitudes to perform their duties professionally,” the Senior Executive Director said.
The year-long programme comprises six months of classroom work, four months of practical attachment within the Public Service, and one month of study tours. During attachments, the cadets gain first-hand experience of employment within the public sector and learn to put the fundamental concepts learned in the classroom into practice on the job.
“Every student comes with [their] own… values, which might not necessarily be the values that are required or needed in the Public Service. So, what we try to do, in the first place, is to get rid of the bad values that are not what the Public Service will accept and to train them in the way that they would be very proficient and become professional public servants when they are employed in the Public Service… I would really want them to uphold the kind of professionalism and standard of training that we have given them at this College… We see these new public servants as the agents of change and they’re the ones who we feel will transform the Public Service into the 21st century,” he said.
Ms. Alissia James, former BCCPS Cadet, now Clerk III at the Department of Citizenship shares her experience. The knowledge gained as a cadet, she says, has stayed with her as she begins her professional career.
“I was a part of the second graduating class. It was a good experience. I had the opportunity to go on tours. I was on work attachment at the Department of Citizenship. I started at the General Register Office… and then I came over to… the main office… From the teachings that we got from the lecturers and even from the same study coordinators… for me it just registered… in my brain that when I [graduate] I’m not supposed to do [certain things] because if I do [those things] it’d be wrong. For me, it would be something personal… and I wanted to do what was right,” Ms. James said.
While the Decade of Development may be funded by oil and gas revenues, it will be steered by the contributions of educated and skilled Guyanese. Guyana, the ‘education nation’ is not a long way off. The ‘education nation’ is now. Guyanese should be encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities for training offered by the Government to better oneself and to better Guyana.