Improving education to help students build the innovation skills they need for Guyana’s development in the 21st Century?

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By Karen Abrams, MBA
Ed.D Curriculum Development – Education Technology ‘25

As industries in Guyana expand and the demand for technical workers in every industry
exponentially increases within the next 10 to 15 years, Guyanese companies, even those
benefiting from local content protections, will have to depend on an increasing foreign
workforce because of the skills mismatch between available Guyanese workers and the
jobs generated by her rapidly growing economy. Those who remain unprepared will find
themselves relegated to lower wage service industry jobs, or no jobs at all.
The reality we face is that since Guyana’s population is small, all of the nation’s youth
will be required to contribute meaningfully to the nation’s development. Educational
institutions like GTI and GITC, and all the other Technical Institutes across Guyana
should be overflowing with young people who are intent on acquiring the technical skills
which are already in demand and for which demand will increase exponentially over the
next decade. Welders, Electricians, Plumbers, Heavy Machinery workers, mechanics,
Computer Programmers, Data Science Professionals and nearly all the technical
professions one can imagine will continue to be in demand as Guyana continues along
the path of rapid economic expansion.

Guyana also needs a cadre of bright and talented innovators who will lead and participate
in the expansion and development of current and new industries–this is in addition to the
nurses, doctors, project managers, and other professionals who are desperately needed
even today. Unfortunately, true innovation cannot properly happen divorced from a solid
understanding of Math and Science and Math and Science competency won’t happen
without strong literacy acumen. Unfortunately, more than half of our young people who
are finishing up primary school still struggle with literacy and numeracy, numbers which
have gotten worse due to the COVID pandemic school closings.
In addition to endemic, structural and historical academic under-achevement for too
many especially vulnerable children and the massive COVID related learning loss
recorded, K-12 school systems across the globe are also challenged with the task of
educating young people who are often raised in a world of technology–screens, games,
colors, videos and daily technology stimulation outside of the classroom. Many students
find traditional education uninspiring, boring, and often because of the ‘chalk and talk’
rote learning system they must master in order to be successful in the traditional
educational system.
To build the creative and innovative skills which students will need in the 21st century,
schools must not only revisit their traditional curriculum but also methods of
education delivery. In addition to traditional approaches, students must also be
encouraged to learn using a project-based approach which encourages them to
research, analyze and determine solutions in group settings. Educators must consider
integrating lessons for core subjects like Science, Math and English with technology or
arts or both to engage students and help them to better absorb the subject matter and
improve their learning outcomes.
Finally, educators will must consider using technology to customize education
assessment and deliver personalized improvement plans for each child–meaning that
education, instead of being designed for the group, will have to be designed for the
individual student so that at any point in time, each student will always understand
their academic strengths and weakness and be in possession of a plan for
improvement, rather than having to wait until the end of a school term or assessment
period for feedback.

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