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(DPI) President Irfaan Ali pointed to the importance of education in the ever-changing landscape of Guyana and highlighted that efforts are already in place to not only enhance its delivery but to ensure that it benefits all citizens of the country.
President Ali made the statement on Tuesday while delivering remarks as the chair of the Transforming Education Summit Leaders Roundtable Discussion, which is a part of the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), currently underway in New York.
He said that along with ensuring that Guyanese benefit from free primary and secondary education, efforts are also being made to provide free education at the tertiary level.
“Guyana commits to an inclusive education system, one that leaves no one behind. This entails narrowing access and attainment gaps by ensuring that every school-aged child in all regions is entitled to a sound primary and secondary education. Tertiary education will be provided free of cost by 2025.”
The Head of State added that as part of Guyana’s efforts to strengthen the education system, his Government plans to increase its expenditure by 20 per cent. This, he said, was necessary due to the implications of the pandemic on the education system. He sourced a World Bank report which said that the COVID-19 pandemic was the greatest worldwide shock that the education system suffered.
He said that Guyana intends to follow the suggested recommendation, which includes a “rethink of education strategies” if the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) four is to be achieved by 2030.
The “rethink”, he said, must include strategies to reduce inequalities and foster inclusion; curriculum reform; focus on foundational skills; cultural response; technological integration, the development of a comprehensive and integrated education management information system; monitoring and evaluation and financing.
Like the rest of the world, President Ali noted that the pandemic disrupted the education system for more than 20 months in Guyana. Despite this, initiatives were implemented to ensure that the absence of formal schooling did not translate to the end of learning.
As a result, remote learning was implemented and digital and non-digital learning resources were provided.
To address the issue of learning loss and others that surrounded the pandemic’s effect on the education system, diagnostic assessments in numeracy and literacy were conducted.
These data points, the President said, will now be used as a guide for remedial measures, among other procedures, to help the learning loss recovery process.
These measures also include accelerated tutoring services, the creation of a learning platform to bring students back to grade level, and an early warning system to identify students at risk of falling behind.
“Guyana remains committed to Sustainable Development Goal number four, and inclusive and quality education for all. Presently, however, there are educational gaps nationally, which can frustrate the objective. We are adopting measures to narrow these gaps. This includes introducing more in-person tutoring, reforming the national curriculum, extending the use of ICT in education, increasing access to digital and non-digital educational resources, and increasing distance education.”
President Ali also pointed out that the Government is supporting children’s school attendance with the ‘Because We Care’ cash grant, uniform allowance grants and the expanded school feeding programme that aims to boost classroom attentiveness, school attendance and performance.
“Our teachers are the backbone of our educational system. Trained teachers are critical to the attainment of our educational objectives. As such, we’re investing in teachers’ training with the goal of ensuring that by the end of the decade, our schools are staffed by 100% trained teachers. In-service training of teachers is also being strengthened.”
After the President’s address, several world leaders and government representatives presented national statements of commitment that outlined their vision and concrete actions for the transformation of education to drive progress toward the SDGs and to better prepare learners for the future.