This page was first published on the 5th of December, 2016 and last updated on the 5th of December, 2016 by Patrick Carpen.
How The Education System is Failing Guyana’s Children
This article seeks to address how the education system in Guyana is failing Guyana’s children; it does not seek to address how the education system all over the world is failing children all over the world. While I strongly agree that the education system is failing children in many other parts of the world, my primary concern here is Guyana.
After all, I am Guyanese by birth; and for this reason, I should, by virtue of my patriotic nature, be primarily concerned with the education system of Guyana first, then the world. Needless to say, Guyana copies an education system which is prevalent throughout the world. It is not unique by any measure. So if Guyana’s education system is failing, in all likelihood, many other parts of the world follow suite.
The failure of Guyana’s education system, as well as the rest of the world, can be reflected in the number of persons who go to jail annually, or who are in jail at present. And it is reflected by the crime rate of a particular country; in this case, Guyana. But it is also reflected in the sluggishness of the economy, lack of business growth, high unemployment and slow progress in all areas of development. Is the educational system really the one to be blamed for all this?
Needless to say, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Why? Because young minds are impressionable. Growing children are malleable. They can be formed and molded. They can also be broken. And, on more than one occasion, I’ve heard the slogan being attached to the Ministry of Education of Guyana: Molding the Nation’s Children. Oh really?
While the education system in Guyana is not an ultimate failure, it is a failure nevertheless. And while it does possess merits, it simultaneously leaves too much to be desired.
As I mentioned earlier “young minds are impressionable”, and growing children are malleable. A child is like a factory. What you put into it on one hand, and how you process it, determines what you get out on the other hand.
In his book “Brilliant parents and great teachers”, the Brazilian author, Augusto Cury expounds on how to bring out the best in every student. No child should be left behind. No student should be condemned by any education system. The failure is not on the child’s part; it is on the part of the education system.
I walked into a high school some time back, and saw a boy running around the school compound. I approached him and asked him what class he belonged to. I soon found out that teaching was going on all right, but he was skipping class. He was hiding. And he does this often. He sees no interest in keeping up with the other kids, and he is not the only one involved in such behavior.
The ultimate question is “what should be done to this child”? Disciple? Absolutely not. This child displays a total lack of interest in the curricula because it does not appeal to his unique abilities. And this brings us to:
The Unique Ability of Every Child.
Every child has unique ability. Rather than saying hurtful things to students and exercise unnecessary disciplinary measures, which only wound the fragile soul more, why not let us search for the power within every child? Every child, every youth, possesses within them, the power to do great things. And we must harness this power if the earth is it reach its fullest potential.
So what’s wrong with the education system in Guyana?
I would make a kind of paradox here and say that “nothing’s wrong with the education system in Guyana right now”. In fact, everything is perfect with it. And you gasp “say what?” Am I contradicting myself? Absolutely not. What I mean is that everything is right with the education system in Guyana “up to this point”.
If we look at where we came from, we can tap ourselves on the shoulder and say “whew, we’ve done well”. And we have. In our 200 hundred odd years as a civilized nation, we have done exceedingly well in advancing all aspects of human development. That is, when you take into consideration where we came from, or, as Christians would say “where Jesus picked us up from”.
Let us take a look forward into our past, to the time where it all began, and then we’ll understand where we truly came from and where we’re going. Let’s take a few moments to remember those days, when our fore-parents came from India, exceedingly thankful for only a place to rest their heads, somewhere to dry their clothes and a mouthful of food to eat. Or let us remember our African ancestry, when we boarded those ships, and we were thankful to have made it out alive. We were thankful if only to survive each day. We didn’t even know how to read or write, much less study science and food and nutrition. But a lot has changed? Hasn’t it? Today, our African brothers and sisters hold some of the highest offices in the country, and has contributed greatly to medicine, education, construction and agriculture.
Why do Afro Guyanese make such a great celebration every 1st of August? To remember what? Freedom from slavery 200 odd years ago? And then what came? Then they were just thankful for a decent job with minimum wage so they could build a bit more decent shelter. That’s right: we, collectively, as Guyanese, all struggled hard to change our living and learning conditions. We did well, but we did not perfect it.
It was the British who introduced their education system to Guyana; and who gave us free education. But regardless of that fact, all races and colors benefit from the education system up to today. Our Amerindian counterparts, who came out of the forested regions of Guyana, and who were accustomed to a natural and primitive environment, now hold some of the highest offices in this country, and build some of the most luxurious houses. They own businesses, motor vehicles, professional medical qualifies and much more. Their qualifications rival any other race of people.
So our education system in Guyana has enriched the lives of all races and classes of people. But does that mean it is good enough; and that it is time to bask in the pleasure of having it all? No it certainly is not.
It is time to push on like never before. It is time to be determined to give the youths something better; something we didn’t have. As the national anthem reads, “ours is the glory, their eyes did not see”. Our forefathers fought and died for the glory that we now enjoy. And shall we stop right here and pretend that our excellence has peaked?
It certainly has not. We have not reached the heights of perfection. Our education system is in dire need of a drastic reform; and if we put our hands to the plough, we will reach the peak of performance.
Let us stop thinking about ourselves for a while; even if for a few brief moments. And let us think about the future of our children. Don’t we feel the need to build them a better tomorrow, as our fore-parents have so gallantly fought to build us the present that we now inherit? Don’t we see the need to correct what is wrong and strengthen what is right? Are we not driven, if only by our conscience, to leave the world better than we found it; and to leave footprints into the hearts of our children that will last for all eternity?
I will close by saying that some people may not understand what I am getting at, or where I am going. That’s understandable. I don’t expect you to understand, after all, you’re only human.
Related: The Redundancy of Lesson Planning.