Govt aiming to have all schools fully reopened after Easter Holidays in Guyana

(INEWS)Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand indicated today that the Ministry of Education is looking to have all schools at every level fully reopened after the Easter break.

Minister Manickchand made this public statement today while in Region Six on the sidelines of the launch of the distribution of textbooks for primary school students. The Education Minister explained that a full return to the classroom will mean no rotations and no online engagement being facilitated at the nursery, primary or secondary levels.

The Minister did say however that the benefits of integrating distance delivery will be integrated as far as it can in the face to face delivery of education and that the ministry had planned in that regard.

She said that this move will allow the education sector to better address the issue of learning loss. Minister Manickchand added that having the pupils back in school fully will mean that all Guyanese have to act responsibly as it relates to COVID-19 since it is not going anywhere.

The Education Minister further explained that the sector cannot expand its schools at the rate necessary to ensure there is one child seated on a bench or six feet apart. She said, “If we were to do it, children will be rotating for the next three to four years and that will be the loss of an entire generation for this country. That’s not going to be something a growing Guyana can tolerate.”

Due to the pandemic, schools were closed and have gradually been reopened by the Ministry of Education. As a result of school closures and the inability of many students to access online learning, they have suffered from learning loss while some have been absent from school for an extended period. The full reopening will ensure all students have access to education. Those pupils who have been absent are currently being sought by the Ministry to have them returned to the classroom. This is being done through ‘Operation Recovery’, a programme specifically designed to address absenteeism.

Minister Manickchand said that the programme was launched initially to locate those pupils who were absent for the first National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) mock examination that was written last month.

The Education Minister said that she and Officers in the Ministry visited the homes of the pupils in every Education District very cautiously to know the reason for their absence and to offer assistance where possible.

She said that this effort has produced encouraging results. She said that as of last weekend the Ministry was able to locate 538 students of out 1300 who did not show up for the examination.

She said that in order to ensure some of the pupils returned to school, the Ministry provided assistance ranging from a uniform, school supplies and food items. According to Minister Manickchand partnering with civil society organisations and kind-hearted individuals made much of the assistance provided possible. She said that the Ministry will continue to work with all interested partners to ensure that as many children as possible are in the classroom receiving the education they rightfully deserve.

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