28 Master Trainers from all over the country attended the 5 day workshop facilitated by Stephen Harding (Education Managemner Specialist) and his wife Mary Harding (Curriculum Specialist) Both are VSOs working in NCERD.
Although there was some educational theory, the activities were mainly of a practical nature relating to schools. The principle theme was one of “Proactive Leadership” and how Headteachers, through their own practice can influence the direction of a school in a positive way. Great emphasis was placed on the “expectations” of Headteachers and the “accountability of all in the system.
We were able to have frank and open discussions about the current situation relating to the education system in Guyana and have focused on solutions and overall principles. These principles have been embraced by the participants
The attendance and participation was excellent and the Master Trainers have displayed a passionate and informed desire for improvement of the system through the provision of support for all staff at every level. It is clear that they have welcomed and embraced many of the changes and suggestions given in the last training session.
In the results of the last cohort of trainees, there was a pass rate in excess of 94% - the best ever. The average score was higher than any other previous year The examination focused much more on skills and evaluation rather than simply recall of information. The best performers were in regions away from Georgetown in Regions 6, 10 & 3
We all now feel that there is a need for all officers of the Ministry of Education and Regional Departments of Education to take a greater ownership of the course, its management and organization and support of its participants.
On the final day, we were please to have received the Honourable Minister of education, Mr Shaik Baksh who gave us his views on the programme and the educational provision in Guyana as a whole. This was reported on NCN News and in several newspapers.
The text of the article published in the Guyana Chronicle on Saturday 9th August is given below:-
By Tajeram Mohabir (EDUCATION)
Minister Shaik Baksh yesterday announced that measures are being put in place to fire all non-performers at the different levels in his ministry.
He made the announcement at the conclusion of a five-day master trainers workshop in the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) in Kingston, Georgetown.
Taking a touch line, he told the group of senior teachers that, while there are few effective managers in the education system, too many have a lackadaisical approach to work. He said headteachers and regional education officers need to adjust their attitude to create the change necessary for propelling the sector to a higher plain or leave their jobs.
Baksh emphasised that the majority of headteachers are reactive rather than proactive and seminars like the one just concluded are a salient effort to reverse their behaviour. He exhorted the trainers to be aggressive change agents and said they would not be working alone because a newly established team of education inspectors will assist them to address the many deficiencies in the schools.
Baksh encouraged the trainers to be self-motivated and channel their energies to alter the mindset of teachers, so they give of their best and produce the desired results. He said, for the education system to succeed, teachers will have to demonstrate a sense of commitment and dedication. The minister said the argument about work according to pay is grossly ridiculous and declared that teachers engaged in the practice lack the slightest idea of the danger they are causing to children’s lives.
Baksh said his ministry recognises the need to upgrade salaries and has been doing all within its means to ensure proper remuneration and appealed for a sense of patriotism and a passion for change in return. Those values should be enforced by the Guyana Teachers' Union (GTU) but, apparently, the latter is only is clamouring for increases in pay, Baksh stated.
He indicated that the teachers who were trained in the education management programme will also have to fill a similar role and his ministry will be looking forward to the feedback on the strides made. Baksh said the Central Ministry has already been reformed and emphasis is now being placed on the regional and school systems to ensure operational efficiency. He pledged to do all within his limit to make sure his ministry functions and delivers effectively at every level before he demits office. Baksh underscored the importance of the capacity building workshop, pointing out that it will significantly aid teachers to positively reform their schools and impart their knowledge to colleagues through similar workshops and seminars. He expressed optimism that the trained teachers will produce quality results that would serve as a catalyst to instill values of high standards in headteachers and teachers who are incapable of effecting positive changes.
Baksh commended the facilitators of the workshop, Mr. Stephen Harding and his wife, Mrs. Mary Harding, for their sterling contributions towards updating the Education Management Programme which is designed to meet the needs of the system.
Mr. Harding said those trained were acting headteachers and senior teachers drawn from the 10 Administrative Regions.The Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) volunteer said the teachers were engaged in mostly practical work, intended to make them adopt a proactive stance in problem solving, planning and implementation. Harding said the focus was on the expectation of headteachers and accountability to all in the school system. He proposed that the programme be prolonged for another few years, so that all headteachers will benefit.
Harding disclosed that 350 of them graduated from it this year.