Contact us

United Caribbean Trust



 

UCT Guyana visit


Guyana schools

Women's NGOs

Citizens Initiative


Adopt a family

    home >> caribbean >> guyana>>

Donate online

GUYANA - DISCUSSION PAPER ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A MASTER PLAN - ST. STANISLAUS COLLEGE -

2002 - 2007



Prepared by Kenneth Khan (kenkhan@cariaccess.com), Barbados Chapter

I. INTRODUCTION

The Barbados Chapter and the Saint Stanislaus College Old Students= Association (SSCOSA) have been asked by the Toronto Chapter to work together to put in place an overall plan for the improvement of St. Stanislaus College. It is felt by many alumni that some Master Plan is urgently needed if Saints is to move ahead in the 21st Century. This Master Plan should include both short-term and long-term objectives. The following is a beginning to what is hoped will be an ongoing series of consultations involving Past and Present Students, Parents and Teachers of Saints, the present College Administration, the Ministry of Education and all stakeholders interested in the welfare of Saints. We all need to work together so as to set up goals and long range plans for the success of the College. The plans for a Computer room, a Transformer, a Wall of Fame and other ongoing improvements in the facilities and curriculum/extra curriculum, should not be seen as knee-jerk responses to crises, but as part of a well thought-out master plan. We need to be proactive, and be able to anticipate to some extent the problems that rapid change brings about.


The SSCOSA is sponsoring a 2-day strategic planning (and ‘strategic thinking’) Workshop, that has had to be postponed but will now be held at a later date sometime in 2002, that will be organised around the following areas: Human Resources, Budgeting & Financial Management, Curriculum, Physical Plant and Management & Administration. Workshop participants will include the staff and administration of the College, student representatives, parents, alumni, the Planning Division of the Ministry of Education, the Department of Education, the Teaching Service Commission and specialist officers from the National Council for Education Resource Development (NCERD). The general idea is for appropriate working groups to address various issues with guidance from competent Resource Persons/Facilitators.


The following are a few ideas and suggestions that might assist in the formulation of some policy statement that will take Saints into the 21st Century. Your comments will be appreciated by the SSCOSA which is planning the Workshop

II. BACKGROUND

Saints operates within the education system and suffers from the general malaise that is compounded by severe staff shortages at all echelons of the system. Education has been subjected to a downward spiral during the past twenty years, and the situation will very likely get worse before its gets better. Many graduate teachers are now migrating to Botswana, Turks and Caicos and other Caribbean islands, so as to escape what they see as substandard wages and conditions of service. If we are to encourage professionalism and retain the services of good, dedicated teachers, then the principle of a good day=s wage for a good day=s work, must be strictly adhered to. This is a national problem, the solution of which depends very much on the will of the government to set up a satisfactory salaries structure and to set in motion its own Master Plan for Education. The Minister of Education, Mr Henry Jeffrey, is currently proposing a 17 point Draft Strategic Plan 2002-2006, rooted in the National Development Strategy (NDS), that was put together following countywide community consultation. The Saints’ Master Plan should integrate into any such Plan. A copy of the National Educational Policy of the NDS can be downloaded from the Internet at www.guyana.org/NDS/NDS.htm.


It might be useful to consider the current Prospectus that was quoted in the 1993 College Magazine. We would do well to examine it carefully so as to decide whether or not it is in need of updating or perhaps some form of radical change.


ASt. Stanislaus College is a Grade A, Senior Secondary school administered by the Government of Guyana. The school aims at imparting both intellectual and technical skills and forming citizens who are imbued with a reverence of God, and a spirit of love for their country. The philosophy of the school centers on its motto >Aeterna Non Caduca= - > not for this life only but for eternity=. The school offers an education that emphasizes academic excellence and respect for all; it develops values of cooperation, a spirit of sharing, caring, and working together for the good of all @


The present situation is that the Government administers Saints directly though the Ministry and the Teaching Service Commission. Another aspect of the educational background is the phenomenon of extra lessons. This is an area that has grown in importance as teachers seek to supplement their inadequate wages by moonlighting or by giving extra lessons. The extra lessons syndrome looms large in the minds of many parents, especially those who cannot afford the expenses incurred.

This is an urgent national problem. Many students cannot engage in extra-curricular activities or sports/athletics because they have to attend classes that commence as early as 6.30 a.m. or after school at 3.00 p.m. This can well encourage a two-tiered society where only those who can afford extra lessons will get a proper education.


III. ACTIVITIES


Committees might wish to consider the following activities that should be reflected in any proposed plan.


1. Board of Management


A Board of Management will very soon be introduced at Saints. It will impact on the entire philosophy and culture of the school, and will affect any proposed plan.


The article by Kenneth Khan, reprinted from the October-December 1999 issue of the Clarion newsletter, offers a contribution to this debate. It can be downloaded from www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pointe/1755.


The Board of Management now operational at Queen=s College should be evaluated so as to see the advantages and disadvantages of its present operation. The relationship between the Q.C. Board, the Ministry of Education, the PTA and the Old Scholars Association, should be examined. There seems to be a harmonious relationship in some schools, while other schools seem to have serious problems.


The proposed Board of Management should be representative of all stakeholders, including the Society of Jesus that is still technically the owners. Although this might soon be changed by an Act of Parliament, nevertheless the Jesuit influence from 1866-1980 helped shape the character and traditions of the school, and should not be allowed to disappear, but should be reflected in some form of Jesuit participation in the proposed Board. We have been led to understand that the Minister of Education is amenable to Jesuit membership of any new management structure. Although the constraints of manpower and priorities might prevent a

return to the pre-1980 situation, there is need to tap into the considerable pool of ideas of the Jesuit community, especially of those involved in education.

It is proposed that the workshop examine this important issue as a matter of urgency. Whether we like it or not, a Board of Management is a fait accompli, and will be set up in the very near future. Already members have been identified and asked to indicate their willingness to serve. This can be an area that offers a challenge in the identification of a suitable Chairman, and the members of the board, so that the Board, the Ministry of Education, the PTA, the SSCOSA and other organisations can work cooperatively together to promote the welfare of our students.


2. Saints as a model of a well-run school


The goal of any Master Plan should be a vision of Saints as #1 in certain areas. Although healthy rivalry with other schools is encouraged, nevertheless it is proposed that we try to maintain Saints as the model of a well-run school. It is not just another Grade A Secondary school with a Sixth Form, but a school with a distinctive characteristic that sets it apart as a Centre to which parents clamor to send their children. At the present time, it is held by many in the community that its Computer studies program makes it #1 in this respect. This is due in large part to the sustained effort by the Toronto Chapter in providing computers and supplies that are meant to improve the morale and pride of the staff and students. The plan should be to extend this to the other curricular and extra-curricular activities, as well as to the entire spectrum of life at Saints.


An article in Stabroek News on January 9, 2000, entitled >Staff shortages at all echelons of education system-study says=, is highly recommended. This is the report of an Organizational Capacity Assessment (OCA) conducted by a United States Consortium for International Development from August to December 1999 that discussed some of the strengths and weaknesses of the staff situation in Guyana. It

administered diagnostic assessment questionnaires to over 400 Ministry of Education employees and highlighted staff shortages, salary structure and management problems faced by the education system. Of particular interest is its reference to the need for internal models of excellence, what it calls >centers of excellence=, that is > units or individuals that fostered a sense of inclusiveness, collaboration and worker participation and could serve as models for the ministry=s restructuring=.

3. Mission Statement


It might be useful to consider the compilation of a Mission statement that remains faithful to the College motto. This is something distinct from the College Prospectus, and the Workshop might wish to examine the phrasing of Mission statements used by other schools.


The following Mission statement of Harrison College, Barbados, to which Saints is in the process of twinning, at least at the level of the Scout Troops, is meant to reflect its motto >In Deo Fides= - >Faith in God =.

"The purpose of Harrison College as a quality school and the cornerstone of a lifelong learning community, is to make all of its students academically prepared, self-reliant, curious, thoughtful of others and capable of using their learning towards their own success and for the good of others in our interdependent world @.


Alfred Bhulai has proposed a Mission Statement, which we might wish to consider, among other suggestions. as we reflect on our motto: "Aeterna non caduca", translated "Things that last, not things that perish" or "Not for this life only, but for eternity".


"To provide a high school whereby students may safely


learn to master themselves


study the things and ways of this world, their causes and consequences, and


begin to acquire the expertise and qualifications to use their knowledge for the benefit of themselves and others, and to make changes for the good

so that they may come to know, love and serve God, their creator, and to be happy with Him in this life and the next."


4. Curricular , extra-curricular and other activities


The Workshop should examine the curriculum and other aspects of the program of education at Saints. They should evaluate and make proposals in the following areas, but should feel free to extend their deliberations to other areas. They should call upon the expertise and advice of Heads of department, subject teachers, members of staff, Ministry specialist officers including the Specialists at NCERD, and all who can contribute in any way. They might also wish to examine the experience of other schools.

The following headings should to be spelt out before the Workshop commences:

Information Technology/Computer studies

This is an area of paramount importance as we enter the Information Age. Students and teachers, as well as members of the school administration, need to be computer

literate. Committees should examine to what extent students should be exposed to Computer Science studies in Forms 1 and 2, possible Form 3, with some progressing to take CXC examination at Ordinary Level, and progressing to the CAPE Advanced Level. This subject needs to be integrated into the curriculum and allowed to influence how we teach Mathematics, Science, English etc. The computer is a tool that has changed the face of the world profoundly, and we need to be able to keep up with the ever-changing face of computer-aided learning.


Staff, hardware and software, maintenance and other areas need to be catered for, and ample allowance made in the timetable, both in school hours and perhaps after school hours, or even at home. A useful distinction between Information, Knowledge and Wisdom has been made: selection from the vast amount of Information provided by the Internet, can lead to Knowledge, and we need to use this knowledge to become better persons, to grow in Wisdom. The developed world has seen exponential growth in e-shopping, e-commerce, e-learning, and many other aspects of electronic activity.


(b)Agricultural Science


It is regrettable that Saints which pioneered Agricultural Science studies in Guyana, with the establishment of a School Farm at Sophia, does not utilize the Farm as a teaching tool, but allows other schools to benefit form the hard work of its parents, teachers and students of the 70's and 80's. The Farm is an economically viable unit, and is administered by the SSCOSA with the primary goal that of teaching Agricultural Science by hands-on training. Any proposed Master plan should examine this area as a matter of urgency. The present Headmaster, Mr. James Fanfair, is hopeful that the College Farm will become an integral part of the Agricultural Science program as from September 2000.


(c) English Language and Literature.

The standard of written and spoken English has declined over the years in Guyanese schools. Evidence of this can be seen in the results of the CXC English A and B

examinations and in anecdotal evidence from UG lecturers and examiners as well as prospective employers in Guyana. Part of the problem is the quality of teaching in the subject (and teachers can hardly be expected to achieve results beyond the level of their own spoken and written performance in the language), but there is also the problem of the scarcity of books, not just basic prescribed texts (although these can be unavailable and/or priced beyond the reach of many parents), but also literary texts and books for general reading and reference. The best way to become conversant with the required standards of the written language is to read as much and as widely as possible. It is urgent, therefore, that the school library be improved, maintained, efficiently run and stocked with material of interest to the students.


(d) Foreign Languages - French and Spanish.


(e) Social studies - History and Geography.

Mathematics


Mathematics is the queen of the sciences. It pervades all human activity in spite of efforts to deny its presence. So many students who make every effort to avoid it, only to be confronted by it as they advance in age and scholarship, have had an unreasonable fear of this subject.


The question then is "What Mathematics should students be learning?". The nature or content has not changed. The demands of this subject have changed and this impinges directly on how the subject is taught.


Mathematics must be meaningful to the student. Students must not only be taught to execute standard procedures but they should also be able i) to apply the procedures to new situations and ii) to invent new procedures, however simple. To achieve these goals, students must be given opportunities to reason, communicate and solve problems. Mathematics learnt in this context will promote understanding and develop skill proficiency. This will produce the Mathematics student for the new millennium.


It is generally accepted that the promotion of meaningful learning in schools, especially in the area of mathematics, lies squarely on the shoulders of the classroom teacher. While students’ poor performance is due in part to their lack of

knowledge, misunderstanding of basic concepts, and the lack of exposure to certain

mathematical techniques, nevertheless the root cause can be traced to the inadequate teaching sills and lack of expertise displayed in the classroom. On the students’ part, there is need for both drill and practice, as well as understanding of basic mathematical concepts.


The problem of numeracy (and literacy) has to be faced in any attempt to move Saints forward. A principle that can help resolve this problem is that learners construct their own knowledge, based on their prior knowledge, their experience and the constraints of the existing school system. It is hoped that the workshop will examine this important area of the curriculum in some detail. Computer aided education is one area that might be explored, as well as distance education and the use of suitable software that is now coming on stream worldwide.

Moral and family life education


On May 22, 2000, some 200 teachers received moral and family life education certificates. Fr. Chira, the coordinator of the programme, has done sterling work in this important dimension of education.


The following pledge taken by the teachers is an excellent summary of the goals and objectives of the Moral and Family Life Education program:


As Teachers, we dedicate ourselves:

We value truth, human dignity and responsible human freedoms and behaviours.

We shall respect all legitimate authorities, and we shall work together for the common good of society; in particular, we value families as sources of love and support for all, and as basic for society.

We affirm that human sexuality finds its fullest expression in sincere service to others and in loving and life-giving marriage and family life.

We value others for themselves; we recognise each person as a unique being with potential for spiritual, moral, intellectual and physical development and growth.

We affirm that our profession as Teachers is honourable and necessary for the well-being of society.

We honour human friendships as gifts to be cherished and developed along our life’s journey.

We value the natural world as a source of wonder and inspiration. We shall do all

 

in our power to maintain a sustainable environment for the future.

By our word and example we dedicate ourselves to foster health and family life education with a moral content in it for the benefit of our students and society at large.


The Ministry of Education has an ongoing programme of Moral and Family Life Education, and this is an area that deserves special consideration.


(h) Science - Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Environmental &Integrated Science.

Industrial Arts, Art and Craft.


(j) Business/Accounts, Economics..


(k) Music.


(l) Physical Education, Athletics, sports, games etc.


(m) Guidance and Counseling - Career guidance.


(n) Various extra-curricular activities, including Scouts, Guides, Debating and Elocution, and similar activities that contribute to a rounded personality.


The Saints Old Students Association, in a Brochure produced in 1999, proposed some of the above, as well as the following that might require attention by the Workshop. These might need to be prioritized: Designing an Accounting System

Library, Prize for best teacher, Painting, Roof repair, Physical plant rehabilitation, Maintenance of the grounds around the college compound, Tree trimming and landscaping college grounds, Rehabilitation of the laboratories, Upgrading the audio-visual lab, repairing the Sports ground facilities, Rehabilitation of the Industrial Arts facility, Fund raising by the PTA, SSCOSA, etc.


The role of the Board of Management, including the responsibility of its Secretary-Treasurer in ensuring audited accounts for the income/expenditure of all funds collected, deserves careful scrutiny. Accountability and transparency in financial matters is the key to the access of funds locally and overseas.


PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF TEACHERS

A Master plan will be incomplete unless it deals with the salaries and conditions of service of teachers. This will be a major responsibility of the newly formed Board

of Management which will have to examine creative ways of ensuring a decent salary for the staff. At the present time, a teacher=s take-home pay is below the minimum needed to survive in Guyana. However, in the long run, it is the ultimate responsibility of the Government to ensure that the salary structure is just and fair. No amount of temporary band-aid solutions or bonuses or special incentive payments will stem the severe haemorrhage of dedicated teachers which keeps recurring. This is a national problem which requires a national solution.


The professional training of teachers should go hand in hand with improved salaries and conditions of service. Untrained teachers cannot really be expected to facilitate learning. The Toronto Chapter has on ongoing program to upgrade the qualifications of teachers by paying for courses at U.G., and this could be examined and perhaps extended to include untrained teachers, provide they agree to give dedicated service for a number of years. Perhaps the Board of Management will offer inducements to teachers to undergo some form of training or to improve their qualifications. However, the issue of teacher’s salaries will require urgent consideration. Some form of bonus or incentive payment needs to be considered.


The Board of Management will need to address the identification and training of a Principal as an area of cardinal importance. The Principal sets the tone of the College, and holds a key position in the implementation of any Master Plan.


VI. CONCLUSION


The ideas sketched above are intended to stimulate discussion. We need to start the process of consultation so that the Workshop can take place at a suitable date in 2002. We hope that a rolling 5-year plan will be developed which can be reviewed and updated each year to reflect the most recently available information.


Comments on this Discussion Paper can be sent to kenkhan@cariaccess.com in Barbados or to either rajsingh@networksgy.com or rajsingh@networksgy.com in Guyana (Rajendra Singh, President and Camille DeGroot, Secretary of SSCA). A planning committee is now hard at work structuring the Workshop, in collaboration with the Faculty of Education at the University of Guyana.

July 20, 2002



  Make Jesus Smile C. A. TCaribbean Children's Prayer Network Africa Appeal - Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe Help Haiti
     
Copyright ©  2007 www.UnitedCaribbean.com. All rights reserved. Disclaimer Click to Contact us


Site Map contact Caribzones Inter-Caribbean Travel Caribbean Tours Caribbean Events Caribbean live music Caribbean Accomodation Caribbean Holidays