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With the aim of offering expert technical support to the Guyanese Government in the development of policies for Health, Education and the Environment, the U.S. Government is looking to reintroduce Peace Corps Response to Guyana.
The short-term, high-impact programme, includes senior professionals and returned volunteers with advanced degrees and specialised certifications.
In a recent interview, the Peace Corps Country Director, Dr Nadine Rogers explained that the Government, through the Ministries of Education and Health and the Office of the President, requested technical assistance to develop policies with specific focus on Epidemiology and Surveillance, Adolescent Health, and Environment Stewardship. The Peace Corps Response, she said, will offer the support needed.
“We are going to bring back Peace Corps Response, which is a programme for much more seasoned, advanced stage professionals. So, they will come [but] they wouldn’t stay two years, they wouldn’t live in the communities because at their level they may not be able to give that type of service. They will stay six months to a year, and we will embed them in the Ministries so they can work on that policy level as opposed to working hands on in classrooms,” the Country Director explained.
Dr Rogers said as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peace Corps in 2020 and 2021 offered the Health Ministry technical assistance virtually. That support, she said, will continue.
“So going forward, the next couple of years is going to look like, Peace Corps 2-Year Volunteers, Peace Corps Response Volunteers coming and giving at the technical level, and Peace Corps Virtual Service Program engagement.”
Just recently, 23 Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Guyana after a two-year hiatus, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, they are being trained in Guyanese history, culture, and language and then they will shift to technical areas in readiness for their classroom responsibilities. Together with local teachers, the Volunteers will foster Early Childhood Literacy and Environmental Practices through STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – at Primary Schools, and Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) at the Secondary Schools.
According to its 2019 Annual Report, 2,028 students participated in the HFLE programme, 2,014 students completed an intervention that included gender norms while 627 students demonstrated strengthened life skills such as positive self-concept and self-control. Some 24 teachers received training under the HFLE programme.
In the area of Education, 860 children were taught literacy skills in a school setting while 322 of them demonstrated improvement in literacy skills on a standardized student assessment tool. The report disclosed further that 41 teachers engaged in literacy co-planning/co-teaching.
Meanwhile, in the area of the Environment, there were 760 inquiry-based science lessons co-planned while 42 teachers co-taught inquiry-based science lessons. Approximate 600 youth are said to have participated in outdoor education activities relating to the environment.
Since 2014, Peace Corps Guyana has been partnering with USAID under the Small Project Assistance (SPA) programme to build the capacity of host country individuals, organizations and communities to meet their own development needs and priorities.
And according to the Annual Report, in 2019, SPA funds, totalling US$25,000, were used to conduct three technical training workshops, on the delivery of HFLE curriculum and developing youth through clubs; intricacies of co-teaching and co-planning; and on how to deliver interactive science lessons in student-centered ways and apply effective environmental science techniques.
The Peace Corps has been operating in Guyana for more than 30 years with more than 1,400 volunteers offering their services to the people of Guyana. The benefit has been enormous. In Wakapoa, for example, a G$73.4M road project, linking three Wakapoa Islands, was made possible through the hard work and dedication of the people of Wakapoa Mission, U.S. Peace Corps Guyana Volunteer Lesley Allenby, and U.S. non-governmental organization Builders Beyond Borders (B3).
The road now connects Waipaqua to Yarashima and Myrie, where the majority of the population in Wakapoa resides, and is deemed a safe passage between the islands.
Meanwhile, in Santa Mission, a G$1.3M craft center was constructed. Measuring 1,600-square-foot, the center housed the first running water bathroom system in the village, and solar-powered lighting and solar-generated computers for villagers, particularly women, to work at nights. The center has led to economic opportunities for the people and long-term growth for the village.
Caption: Peace Corps Country Director, Dr Nadine Rogers