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As Village Voice digs deeper into the tent environment the Grade 7 (First Form) students are being taught in the situation is grossly unacceptable. Tents are not only devoid of sufficient ventilation, making them hostile and unhealthy places for learning, but when it rains they are flooded.
According to the Behavioural and Brain Sciences Journal (2014) Vol 1 “scientific research shows how the physical classroom environment influences student achievement. Two findings are key: First, the building’s structural facilities profoundly influence learning. Inadequate lighting, noise, low air quality, and deficient heating in the classroom are significantly related to worse student achievement.
“Second, scientific studies reveal the unexpected importance of a classroom’s symbolic features, such as objects and wall décor, in influencing student learning and achievement in that environment. Symbols inform students whether they are valued learners and belong within the classroom, with far-reaching consequences for students’ educational choices and achievement.”
Minister of Education Priya Manickchand has taken to her social media account to cast aspersions as reaction to the situation being made public but did not say what measures the Ministry of Education will put in place to address an environment not conducive for learning and teaching.
Coretta McDonald, General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers Union,(GTU) told Village Voice the tent classrooms are a reflection of “an uncaring government” who she said, “is behaving as though Guyana had a storm and the schools were destroyed, and children are now being housed in tents.”
According to her these classrooms are only present in certain areas and impacting a particular socio-economic demographic.
About two thousand students, more than last year, wrote this year’s National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) exams. The Ministry of Education had enough time to know more students will be entering Grade 7 in September and to put in place better structures to accommodate them.
Months before the new school year the ministry knew of placements across the country. Additionally, they had the benefit of the respective Head Teacher’s advice of the school’s accommodation capacity.
This is clearly a case of bad planning and the minister cannot fool society into thinking she did not have prior notice to better manage the situation, said the GTU’s general secretary.
Village Voice was further told some classrooms have more than 40 students when a classroom should have 30 to not more than 35.
McDonald said the environment will put additional stress on the teachers, who are already working under poor conditions, and adversely impact the children’s learning. According to her, the government is not preparing Guyana’s children for the future, at least not all of them.