Political commentator and educator, Dr David Hinds has lamented the state of Guyana’s education sector, stressing that after a year in Government, the new Administration still has a lot of work to do.
Speaking to Guyana Times recently, Hinds, a University Professor, said there was no doubt that the education sector in Guyana was in bad shape.
He said while he applauded Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and some of the initiatives the Ministry has taken, he still believed that the question of illiteracy in society and the underpreparedness of young people in school required more than “bringing back music”.
“It is more of a fundamental issue,” Dr Hinds said, noting that the WPA has always spoken of a “state of emergency” in the education sector, meaning that “shock treatment” should be administered to the sector.
“So, in the final analysis, I would give the Government more of a mixed review. More positive than negative, but still feel that some of the negatives… [it] could have been signalled what it would do about them,” he noted.
The Education Minister has always maintained that the education sector was indeed in need of reform. This need, he said, had led to the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry, which upon completion, it is hoped, would give the much needed answers and order that would take the sector forward.
Dr Roopnaraine did say that the reform would not happen overnight as it required time to be implemented and enforced.
“Based on everything we hear in the Commission, based on the audit findings we have on our desks, based on all of these things, we will be able to design an education reform process in the key areas that need to be addressed,” the Minister had said recently.
Dr Roopnaraine pointed out that the education reform process could not be designed out of ideas but experiences and evidence, which would be gathered through the Inquiry.
“We can’t design an educational reform process out of our heads. That’s something, I think, that really has to be based on the experience of people and the evidence that the Commission of Inquiry gets,” he stated.
However, the Minister pointed out that the Commission did not have a narrow focus. Dr Roopnaraine reiterated his dissatisfaction with the fact that the schools and classrooms were almost exclusively devoted to academic instruction, noting that he wanted to see far more rounded education in the schools.
“So, all of this will encompass the Inquiry. To what extent we believe that bringing music back into the school will produce a more rounded child, to what extent we believe that enhancing physical education and encouraging sports is going to result in a better educated person,” he pointed out.
Another phenomenon that needs to be addressed, the Minister had stated, is the gender imbalance in the school system.
“The young women are really outstripping the boys… by really quite a large margin. I think this is a problem for sociologists. I think we need to subject it [to] serious investigations and as I say, we must not run away with the idea that this is only affecting us here in Guyana.
This is a global and regional phenomenon and we need to look at it in all its dimensions. It’s a complex issue and certainly one that deserves a lot of attention,” Dr Roopnaraine had declared.