A Partnership for National Unity, the opposition political group, believes it is time for a Commission of Inquiry to be held to examine the state of Guyana’s public education system.
Opposition Leader David Granger at a Friday morning press conference said while it is important to celebrate the successes of students who have performed well at the various examinations, the reality of the situation and the high number of unsuccessful students must not be ignored.
Mr. Granger said his party’s call for a Commission of Inquiry should not be seen as any attack against any person or official, neither should it be seen as a response to recent results, but the move is as a result studies by the APNU over a long period of time across Guyana in all of the administrative regions.
According to the Opposition Leader, the “APNU acknowledges that most students, teachers, parents and officials strive to achieve good results. Students must contend, however, against the adverse conditions and circumstances which plague the public education system. Too many Guyanese children, regrettably, do not enter adulthood and the world of work adequately equipped with the attitudes and ability to enable them to enjoy happy and fulfilling lives after leaving the public schools.”
He said the Commission of Inquiry should not be a costly exercise. Mr. Granger said it could be a one man commission that examines the true problems facing the education sector and make recommendations about moving the system forward. He pointed out that it should not escape parents, that of the over 16,000 students who wrote the National Grade Six Assessment Exams, less than two hundred of them have gained places in the top secondary schools. Additionally, he said that students from five administrative regions are not even represented among those who would have gained places to the top schools.
The APNU feels there are several problems that must be tackled and addressed. Among those problems that could be addressed by the Commission of Inquiry would be the quality of teachers in the system.
“The Teaching Service Commission (TSC) has been obliged to dismiss an average of two or three teachers every week for various offences in the country’s public educational system – 288 of them in one year alone”, Mr Granger said.
Teachers have been dismissed for various reasons including drunkenness and teaching under the influence of alcohol; carnal knowledge of students; fighting among themselves; forgery of certificates of qualification; flogging children without authority; habitual unpunctuality; inadequate work preparation; inefficiency and poor supervision; improper or late completion and distribution of reports; leaving students unsupervised during school hours; misappropriation of school funds; mismanagement of school records and the misuse of school premises and property.
And teachers are not the only ones that the APNU appears concerned about. The Opposition leader quoted recent statements from the head of the Guyana Teachers Union who complained about the state of violence in the school system.
Once the Commission of Inquiry is set up, the scourge of violence involving many of the nation’s children could be examined and addressed, the APNU believes. The Leader of the Opposition said there have been numerous violent incidents including beatings, fighting, stabbings and even, in the worst cases over the years, killings and “this is not just a question of everyday juvenile delinquency; there is abundant evidence of incidents of serious crimes which require investigation.”
The drop out rate and the poor performances in mathematics are areas that the Opposition Leader would also like to see addressed by the Commission. He said the state of Guyana’s education system must be seen as being of concern to all Guyanese and must be addressed. The APNU is convinced that once the Commission makes recommendations, the National Assembly would be able to lead the way in ensuring the many reforms that may be needed in the system.