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By Karen Abrams, MBA
Ed.D Education Technology ‘25
The COVID-19 crisis brought education systems across the world to a halt. Now, 21 months later, schools remain closed for millions of children, and others may never return to school. The loss of learning that many children are experiencing is morally unacceptable. And the potential increase of Learning Poverty might have a devastating impact on future productivity, earnings, and well-being for this generation of children and youth, their families, and the world’s economies.
Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Global Director for Education
Before the COVID crisis, successive Guyana governments were challenged with the mission of improving numeracy and literacy skills and reducing student dropout rates among children in primary schools and secondary across Guyana. The COVID pandemic and the two years that nearly half of Guyana’s K-12 student population have been out of school, and/or learning under less than ideal circumstances have exacerbated the education problem in Guyana and resulted in severe learning loss and mostly among Guyana’s most vulnerable student population.
This confluence of activity is projected to have catastrophic implications for not only the economic prospects of children from affected families but for entire economies of developing countries and while Guyana stands on the cusp of an economic revolution within the next 5 to 10 years as the leaders focus on the development of her oil economy, real improvement in the quality of life for all citizens could be severely stymied in the future if the academic divide is not addressed today.
Recently reported in the Stabroek News, Foreign Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Robert Persaud said, “Guyana needs 100,000 additional workers to efficiently develop this new economy”. Many will respond that these jobs should be filled locally but local labor resources must not only be present in numbers but trained, willing and able to meet new workforce demands.
If half of Guyana’s children today, succumb to the consequences of poverty, lack of engagement and dropping out of school because of the huge academic divide and severe learning loss made worse by the pandemic, then they simply will not be able be properly prepared to contribute meaningfully to the development of Guyana at a time when they are needed most. The academic divide today will merge into an ever widening economic divide along with the consequent social ills on a massive scale. Our already tiny nation could scarcely afford such a horrific eventuality.
A May 3rd, 2022 press release from the Ministry of Education revealed that schools may remain open during July/August to address worrying learning loss/gaps, to which some parents and the Guyana Teachers Union have responded in opposition to the proposal. Whatever the final decision, it is important to note that these are unusual and trying times for the education of the nation’s children. All stakeholders will have to come together to decide on the best course of action for closing the academic divide between the most vulnerable children and their better resourced peers. The status quo will not only be ineffective but clearly unacceptable.
“UNESCO’s The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery report shows that in low- and middle-income countries, the share of children living in Learning Poverty – already 53 percent before the pandemic – could potentially reach 70 percent given the long school closures and the ineffectiveness of remote learning to ensure full learning continuity during school closures”
It is my own view that closing the academic gap will not only require an extended school year but more resources targeted to after-school programs and the engagement of community stakeholder groups like churches, local governments, nonprofit organizations, parents and even the diaspora supporting and contributing to this massive effort. This challenge will definitely involve the entire village.
Technology Innovations In Agriculture
This week – Livestock Farming Technology
“Putting individual wearable sensors on cattle can keep track of daily activity and health-related issues while providing data-driven insights for the entire herd”
The traditional livestock industry is a sector that is widely overlooked and under-serviced, although it is arguably the most vital. Livestock provides much needed renewable, natural resources that we rely on every day. Livestock management has traditionally been known as running the business of poultry farms, dairy farms, cattle ranches, or other livestock-related agribusinesses. Livestock managers must keep accurate financial records, supervise workers, and ensure proper care and feeding of animals. However, recent trends have proven that technology is revolutionizing the world of livestock management. New developments in the past 8-10 years have made huge improvements to the industry that make tracking and managing livestock much easier and data-driven. This technology can come in the form of nutritional technologies, genetics, digital technology, and more.
Livestock technology can enhance or improve the productivity capacity, welfare, or management of animals and livestock. The concept of the ‘connected cow’ is a result of more and more dairy herds being fitted with sensors to monitor health and increase productivity.
. All this data generated is also being turned into meaningful, actionable insights where producers can look quickly and easily to make quick management decisions.
Animal genomics can be defined as the study of looking at the entire gene landscape of a living animal and how they interact with each other to influence the animal’s growth and development. Genomics help livestock producers understand the genetic risk of their herds and determine the future profitability of their livestock. By being strategic with animal selection and breeding decisions, cattle genomics allows producers to optimize profitability and yields of livestock herds.
Sensor and data technologies have huge benefits for the current livestock industry. It can improve the productivity and welfare of livestock by detecting sick animals and intelligently recognizing room for improvement. Computer vision allows us to have all sorts of unbiased data that will get summarized into meaningful, actionable insights. Data-driven decision making leads to better, more efficient, and timely decisions that will advance the productivity of livestock herds.
Robin The Robot’s weekly roundup
Episode 5 – How Technology Can Improve Agriculture
Hiya Kids! Thank you for tuning in to last week’s “Robin The Robot” show! In our previous column, we discussed garbage pollution and this week we’re going to learn about how technology improves agriculture– so don’t forget to tune into the Learning Channel every Saturday morning at 9:30am to join Robin The Robot and have fun while you learn. All Robin The Robot episodes can also be found online at www.robintherobot.tv.
Paradise and Golden Grove Learning Pods Recognized As Outstanding; April
Children in the Paradise and Golden Grove communities are happy to be a part of two Learning pods identified as outstanding for the month of April, 2022. The Learning Pod program is an after-school program which provides high quality learning instruction-including technology integrated Maths, English, Science & Technology lesson plans based on the Ministry of Education’s curriculum. The Learning Pods program leadership team votes monthly on the outstanding club(s) of the month, taking into consideration variables like–student attendance, student engagement, club operational efficiency and overall club management and both Paradise and Golden Grove pods were recognised for their service to the community during the month of April 2022.
Ms Aisha Peters with her session 1 Learning Pod scholars
Paradise Learning Pod
Ms Aisha Peters, long time member of STEMGuyana, STEM ambassador, STEM club instructor and learning pod leader has distinguished herself in leading STEMGuyana’s brand new learning pod which opened in April 2022. “In one short month, the pod’s progress has been exceptional. Further the Paradise Learning pod accommodates a few children with learning disabilities and Ms Peters has been able to use simple techniques to engage them while upholding the high quality of instruction and program objectives”, said Program Analyst Melissa Carmichael.
Ms Aisha Peters with her session 2 Learning pod scholars
According to Program Analyst Alisha Koulen, “…in addition to adhering to the Learning Pods Program’s guidelines, Aisha uses her very innovative mind to creatively explore ways to effectively manage the Paradise program while keeping her students engaged in their lessons. Ms Peters has gone above and beyond to cater to her students at every level of learning and we want to recognise and reward her for that.”
Golden Grove pod volunteers, Ms Yvette Barrow and Ms Shamiah Matthews will also be recognised for their outstanding support and service to the program.
Golden Grove Learning Pod
Ms Alicia Isaacs at the Golden Grove Learning pod has been a club leader in two prior sessions of the program and since the program’s inception. She continues to distinguish herself by the efficient and effective way in which she continues to manage her program. According to Program Analyst Alisha Koulen who works closely with Learning pod leaders, “Ms. Isaacs continues to introduce great initiatives for her pod and she consistently works on improving the children’s learning experience. Without much help, she skilfully navigates the issues involved with educating both the younger and older student scholars and she does so effectively. More than calling with problems, Ms Isaacs invariably calls us to offer solutions“.
STEMGuyana leaders believe that outstanding performance should be rewarded and both pod leaders and their volunteers will be recognised for their contributions to the program and specifically for the month of April. Every recognised Learning pod leader and volunteer will receive a cash prize in addition to a certificate of excellence.
STEMGuyana’s Learning Pod program is sponsored by the IDB, Tullow Oil & ‘Friends Of STEMGuyana’ in the Diaspora. The Learning pod program is always in need of snacks, tablet computers and laptop computers. To become a sponsor of one of Guyana’s high quality after-school programs, contact STEMGuyana@gmail.com.