Guidance counselling, more TVET programmes to tackle school dropouts – Manickchand

The Education Ministry is looking to introduce guidance counsellors and have more TVET programmes in secondary schools as part of efforts to reduce the number of students who drop out.
During a recent appearance on the Globespan 24×7 programme, Education Minister Priya Manickchand said that the Guyana Government was working on capping school dropouts through the implementation of new initiatives to retain children in schools.
“Shortly, we’re going to have in every single high school, which is where the majority of the dropouts come from, a staff dedicated to guidance and counselling… And that means we’re able quicker … to determine the children who are vulnerable to dropping out and vulnerable to leaving school, and fix that not only academically but it could be a whole host of different reasons that a child is leaving,” she stated.
Another step being taken is to provide more space in schools so that students are able to finish their secondary education. For instance, Minister Manickchand explained that students in Kamarang, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) currently attend school up to Grade Nine, as the school is a primary top, and so they would be considered dropouts because they never complete secondary school.
However, Government is now in the process of building a secondary school in Kamarang so that the students there can be able to complete their secondary education.

Expansion of TVET
The Education Minister also spoke about the expansion of Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) programmes in schools.
“We’re also expanding the kinds of offerings that we have at different schools so you have a wider variety of things children can do – more TVET subjects… because if you become bored doing only Math, English, Social Studies and Science, and this does not interest you and you know you want to be a mason at some point, then it’s easy to drop out and just go start doing a trade. So, we’re trying to retain young people so that we can properly and officially, formally train them,” Manickchand noted.
Back in May, the World Bank had reported that the attendance of Guyanese schoolchildren during the height of COVID-19 pandemic dropped by one third and had called for interventions to aid in learning recovery efforts.
The Bank had estimated that attendance rates in Guyana dropped from 97 per cent in February 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic to about 64 per cent in July 2021.
However, Minister Manickchand reminded that the Education Ministry had rolled out several measures to address school dropouts, including “Mission Recovery”. This saw Ministry and school officials going to the homes of students who were not attending school following the re-opening for face-to-face classes in April this year with the aim of getting them back in the system.
In fact, the Ministry had also engaged civil society members including religious leaders in helping to identify and engage early school leavers along with their parents or guardians.
“Every country has dropouts. If you go online, you will see we were celebrated in 2014 for having reduced, significantly, the number of dropouts we have had. But we still have too many for our liking and that is something we’re going to be actively working on. Like I said, a guidance and counselling person in every high school, more spaces so people can actually stay in school and a wider variety of courses should see us being able to retain more students,” the Education Minister posited. (G8)