Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
…dedicate their lives to teaching Bartica’s children
By Gabriella Chapman
Two childhood friends from the town of Bartica, Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven), who have over the years supported each other in their academic pursuits, have graduated from the University of Guyana (UG) with Bachelor’s Degrees in Education at the age of the 25.
The duo, Stefon Dass and Amanda Grant attended the Three Miles Secondary School and sat in the same classrooms throughout their secondary school lives. After graduating in 2012, they both decided they wanted to become teachers serving the community of Bartica. Though they taught at two different schools: Grant at Agatash Primary and Dass at High Achievers, they decided that in order to give of their best to their community, they needed to be properly trained. Both enrolled at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) in 2013.
Dass told Village Voice News that Grant has always ensured that he remained grounded in academics and excelling in everything that he endeavoured. Grant disclosed that Dass has also been instrumental in her life while noting that they have developed an ‘unbreakable’ bond. Both Grant and Dass said while their decision to attend CPCE was easy, their presence at the institution proved a bit challenging.
Grant relayed that she had doubts about her ability to complete the programme as she feared Mathematics, a subject she had failed at the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). “In order to remain in CPCE, I had to pass Mathematics. With one sleepless night of practice I was able to pass same. My second major setback was that I had a medical issue which I underwent a surgery but it wasn’t successful. But with God being my tower of strength, I was able to complete college. One of my best moments in college was starting my fitness journey and bettering myself,” she told Village Voice News.
Dass explained that he was nervous about sharing a room in the dormitory at CPCE but noted that he quickly adjusted to “dorm life”.
“I became a member of the Royal Family when I was crowned Prince. I can now say to anyone that enters College and doesn’t stay in the dorms, they miss half of the fun experiences that College offers. From watching numerous series during study time, or trying to be grateful for the half-cup of tea that was given, or walking in long booths through faeces, none of the above can change the people that became like family in the dorms. I graduated in 2015 with Credit and was awarded,” he recalled.
Following their graduation from CPCE in 2015, both Grant and Dass returned to Bartica and served as teachers at the St. Anthony Primary School. It wasn’t much longer before the duo decided that obtaining their trained teachers’ certificates was not enough to achieve their dreams of improving the standard of education not only in Bartica but across Region Seven.
Three years, thereafter, the friends applied to the University of Guyana (UG) to pursue their Bachelor’s Degree in Education.
“A favourite College lecturer of mine once tasked us to write our philosophy of education. I live by my philosophy: “Education nurtures Wisdom; pursue it, Wisdom cultivates Wealth; gain it, Wealth stimulates Power, achieve it”. It is for this reason, completing my Bachelor’s was considered as a stepping stone to my many more educational achievements. I know it is important that I continue to learn and develop my practice throughout my career,” Dass told Village Voice News while admitting that he believed that his pursuit of academic heights would aid in the advancement in his career as a teacher.
Grant echoed similar sentiments: “I wanted to fully complete the Degree. I started at CPCE and most importantly [I wanted] to better educate myself in order to better educate the nation’s children.”
Their time at the University was not without challenges but with their unwavering support, the friends persevered and succeeded. Dass recalled that Grant motivated him to study. He said she religiously reminded him of important deadlines including exam dates and assignment submissions.
“I remember when I was robbed at gunpoint and didn’t know I was affected until I saw my final grades; my GPA dropped significantly. But my friend Amanda and other colleagues steered me back on track, so that I could have graduated with nothing less than a credit,” he recalled.
Meanwhile, Grant shared that her friendship with Dass was tested during their time at the University.
“We immediately bonded since secondary school and have been inseparable ever since. We both failed Mathematics at CXC… [a subject] which we both had to pass in order to stay in CPCE. He’s the one I had my sleepless practice night with in order to get that grade. We both completed College. We’re always there for each other, especially in times of need. There were times when people even tried to break our friendship but what they didn’t know is that it could never happen,” she told Village Voice News noting that often time persons thought they were either brother and sister or a couple.
“Overall, he became my best friend and brother. The brother who thinks he can sing like both Chris Brown and Jason Derulo,” the young woman said.
Service to community
Now that they have graduated from UG, Dass and Grant have returned to Bartica with the sole aim of sharing their knowledge. The duo noted that it is unfortunate that persons from Bartica attend the University but fail to return to their community to share their new found knowledge.
“[While] I was studying at the University; I was privileged to be a part-time lecturer at the Georgetown School of Nursing. Giving up such an opportunity was hard because lecturing at a tertiary institute is a great scope for development. However, I returned because I believe in potential, and that’s my Town. It’s full of potential for growth,” Dass said noting that change starts with one person.
He continued: “It would be rather unfair for me to say I’m the only one that wants to better the standard of education delivery in Bartica since I have many colleagues with my drive. But individually, I plan on putting all of the knowledge I have gained into practice, so that I can effectively reach the varied abilities of learners. My desire is to see my Region on top of the charts academically, and I know this can and will happen very soon, if I might add,” Dass further stated.
Grant’s goals are aligned, as she too said that her skills will be put to use to enhance the educational status of Bartica and the entire Region Seven. Both Dass and Grant called on other teachers in Bartica to aggressively pursue their academic dreams to ultimately lift the Town’s academic standard.