Education Ministry to appoint Assistant CEO to improve Literacy

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Education Minister Priya Manickchand speaking on the “Education Spotlight” social media programme

With the aim of enhancing the area of literacy, the Education Ministry will be assigning an Assistant Chief Education Officer (CEO) to focus solely on literacy to ensure that by the age of eight, every child is literate.

This was disclosed by Education Minister Priya Manickchand during a recent social media programme titled “Education Spotlight”.

“For the first time, we’ve actually made an Assistant Chief Education Officer for Literacy, where literacy will receive specialised attention apart from English…it is now Literacy. How…we make sure (that) by Grade 4 every single child is literate, can read, can understand what they read, can reproduce it in writing,” the Minister has said.

Further, she revealed that the committee marking the National Grade Six Examination (NGSA) has completed marking Paper Two of the examinations, and has discovered that some students left the entire Paper Two exam sheet blank. This, the Minister noted, is another reason why more emphasis is to be placed on the area of literacy.

“I was so disappointed, so hurt, so worried…when the report came in that there were students at Grade 6 who were not writing a single word on that exam paper; who were writing in language that people did not understand; who were just joining up letters to make a sentence, (in order) to appear to the invigilators to be busy,” she explained.

“We failed those children… That can’t continue, we have to devise a system in the Ministry of Education; and we are working feverishly on that, and will be implementing, come September, to make sure that every single child by age 8 is able to read, understand what they are reading, and reproduce in writing a summary of what they are reading,” she stated.

The Minister added that this programme will be a “game changer” in the education sector.

Emergency or disaster

Meanwhile, Minister Manickchand has also said that the Ministry is placing focus on ensuring education is available to all students throughout the country in the event of an emergency or disaster, like had occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance. She related that steps have been taken in this regard, and the Guyana Learning Channel will be available to all hinterland communities.

“Currently, one of the big things we are doing is trying to make sure that every home can access the Guyana Learning Channel and a new educational radio station called ‘Ed-U’,” she said. “So, the Guyana Learning Channel is going to be, for the first time in the history of this country, available to all communities, including Amerindian, hinterland and riverine communities. We’re giving in every village a television set, solar power (systems), and a satellite (dish) that the Government bought and is installing; and by the end of this year, all our communities will have it,” she further explained.

The Education Minister has said that, since 2020, the Ministry has moved forward in terms of educational channels, and will soon establish 6 channels that are dedicated to learning.

“The Learning Channel used to be one channel dedicated to pushing out learning, and…so you had to give one hour to Nursery, one hour to Grade 1, one hour to Grade Two, which is not nearly enough. We will have, shortly, six channels – it’s up and running already, we’re populating it now – that are dedicated to learning,” she explained.

She also mentioned that the Ministry “has safekept in its repository worksheets we can roll out in case of a disaster like floods, or hope there is not an elections disaster again. Any disaster we can give worksheets immediately, we can print immediately, we have these television shows banked in ‘the cloud’.”

Further, the Minister disclosed that textbooks are currently being purchased to distribute to students at all levels of high school, an exercise which had already been completed last year for students at the primary school level.

“We are currently purchasing Math, English and Literature books for all students from Grade 7 to 13 – that’s all high school children – as well as Science and Enrichment textbooks for CSEC classes. So, before the end of these 5 years, we would have, for every single child in the public-school education system, all the textbooks they need,” she disclosed.