Education in Guyana
Howard Steven Friedman, a writer for the Huffington Post, stated in “America’s Poverty-Education Link” that poverty and education are linked as one and can be the determinant of the other. This means that without education, one is less likely to rise in social ranking in society. In fact, in the United States, 46 percent of Americans who failed to obtain college degrees remained in the lower income rankings.

Personal Testimonies of Education in Guyana

In The Borgen Project’s interview with Nadira Barclay, a student of Guyana, she stated her belief that “there are factors such as not having enough money to travel to school that affect your quality and quantity of education.” That being said, living in poverty takes away the means one may need to succeed educationally.

For Barclay, her education in Guyana brought her through only primary school — grades 1-6; since she lived in the countryside, the only way she would have been able to attend secondary school with minimal costs was to live with someone closer to the school. Due to the fact that she was a young girl, however, her father did not allow her to make the transition.

This is a prime example of the inconveniences students face while trying to pursue education in Guyana. Since Barclay only had a Primary school education, her ability and qualifications to work were limited, which is why today she works as a home health aide for the elderly.

On the other hand, Famida Sukhdeo, an individual Barclay cares for who is also from Guyana, explained, “I had to leave school to take care of my grandmother who was sick. I had to basically babysit her. I had to feed her, bathe her, and clean for her.” Sukhdeo’s case is one of many Guyanese women. For Sukhdeo, she spent her time in the workforce as a nanny, a job not far from what she had to do when she dropped out of school, due to her limited ability to read and write.

Redefining Educational Opportunities

So far, readers have seen the issue of travel costs, sex and domestic responsibilities in relations to education. Both Barclay and Sukhdeo were women raised in poverty who did not have a choice but to comply to gender-based restrictions despite their want to pursue higher education, as their options were limited by their social standings.

Unlike the United States that requires all children to attend school of all levels — from elementary to high school — Guyana makes no such stipulations. In fact, only primary school, which serves children ages 6 to 11, is compulsory. After completion, adolescents are no longer required to attend school and mostly resort to performing domestic tasks such as housekeeping and raising cattle.

As of 2012, Guyana’s expenditure on education from the total GDP was 3.18 percent, 5.22 percent lower than in 2000. According to both Barclay and Sukdheo, back when they were living in Guyana, the government played a bigger role in promoting and supporting education. For instance: “They used to give out clothes, supplies and money to children for school, but all that has stopped.”

Since there is less effort being given towards education in Guyana, research demonstrates that as the age of the population increases, so does the illiteracy rate. As both Barclay and Sukhdeo were able to explain, their lack of education affected them in the long run, especially for employment.

Support and Advocacy Efforts

As of 2002 and continuing to the present day, Global Partnership for Education, coordinated through the World Bank has begun working to improve the quality and quantity of education. This is being done by targeting areas: increasing the number of trained faculty, providing increased access to technology improving the conditions of physical facilities and so on.

So far, the Global Partnership for Education and the government of Guyana have agreed on two goals: increasing the learning outcomes for all regardless of background, and decreasing the differences of education received depending on factors, such as location.

There have also been goals set in place to measure Guyana’s progress: increasing literacy among fourth grade students to 50 percent, increasing the quantity of sixth grade students who reach 50 percent or more in core subjects to 40 percent, and increasing the number of students who pass core subject tests in secondary schools to 60 percent.

A Brighter Future

By continually working with the Global Partnership for Education, education in Guyana will continue to improve as the awareness and importance of education spreads. Thanks to continued organizational efforts and a U.S. education-geared grant of $1.7 million, the quality of education and quality of life of its recipients should both hopefully improve.

– Jessica Ramtahal
Photo: Flickr

A Look Into Education in GuyanaWith at least 250 million children out of school, education remains a top priority for countries all over the world. The Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals had education-oriented targets that countries had to meet. While some countries did meet the targets for the Millennium Development Goals, a large portion of those countries were already developed, high-income countries.

Much like other lower-middle income countries, Guyana has had limited success achieving the Millennium Development Goal concerning primary education. The nation is located in South America, just north of Brazil and west of Venezuela. While it has made significant process in other areas, Guyana could do more for education.

Enrollment and Literacy
Perhaps the area with the largest room for improvement, Guyana only allocated about 4 percent of its GDP to education between 2006 and 2012. The lack of spending has led to a decrease in enrollment in primary school education, from 95 percent in 2005 to 84 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, the average amount of time a student should expect to receive education is approximately 10 years, or until they are 16 years old. Guyana’s total literacy rate is approximately 89 percent. The youth literacy rate, however, is 93 percent, suggesting that Guyana’s youth are becoming more educated overall.

Policy and Promotion
Although Guyana’s government has not allocated a large amount of money for education, it still utilizes other methods to promote staying in school. According to Guyana’s Ministry of Education, 2008 marked the beginning of the strategic plan intending to improve Guyana’s quality of education and increase the number of students prepared for the workforce. As recently as 2014, the Ministry of Education has created more plans to encourage students to complete secondary education.

Guyana has also created a large media campaign called “Read. Play. Love.” that stresses the importance of early education. Created through a partnership with the Global Partnership for Education, the campaign addresses parents of children under five and those who live in rural areas. The campaign provides a new way to instill the desire for lifelong learning in children.

Education in Guyana, as in any other country, is a complicated topic with no one-size-fits-all solution. Ways to innovatively address issues in education in Guyana can help lead to solutions for the rest of the world. With the increased spending by the government and more participation by parents, Guyana has the opportunity to make more improvements in education.

Selasi Amoani

Photo: Flickr

Education in Guyana
The Guyanese government allocated an estimated $31.8 billion to education in Guyana in 2015, nearly 16.6 percent of the total budget. In 2016, $40.3 billion was dedicated to education, which equates to about 17.5 percent of the total budget. This increase in the budget seems to be a trend for Guyana, one which is making a positive impact on the educational system of the country.

Guyana ranks among the top proportional spenders on education in the world. This educational expenditure is viewed by governmental officials as an investment in the country’s long-term socio-economic development.

Guyanese President David Granger said in his address at the National Education Rally in September 2017, “We will improve the delivery of education, the Department of Education System Innovation and Reform is a reality within the Ministry of Education. Innovation will lead to improvement, nothing stands still. There must be more computers in schools, every school must have Wi-Fi and we are working towards that.”

At this rally, President Granger said that “every child in school” is not a slogan, but a declaration of intent and a commitment on the part of his government to eliminate anything in the way of youths accessing education and to help them reach their fullest potential. This declaration is among the explanations Granger has for why Guyana invests so much in education.

The allocated funds have gone towards things like access to schools, construction, extension, rehabilitation and maintenance of Guyana’s educational facilities. It has also gone to things like the “President’s Five Bs”, which are buses, boats, bicycles, breakfast and books. The country’s rural areas are most affected by transportation costs, so by addressing that issue, school attendance is increasing, as families no longer have to shoulder many of the financial burdens of educating children. Many children had to walk or row for hours simply to get to school in the morning, but with new buses, that will not be an issue anymore.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics education has already shown incredible promise. At the First Global Challenge in Washington D.C. this past year, the Guyana team placed tenth out of 165 countries overall.

Granger has said that “What we want is a generation of young people, who are educated, who can use computers, who can use machines and help themselves to make a good living… Once you get an education, you would be able to use it…your skills and your technology to use the very products that are coming out of your region in what is called agro-processing. Anything you produce can be processed and exported.”

Agro-processing is among the specific reasons that Guyana invests in education and shows that it is a socioeconomic benefit for Guyana in the long-run. Granger stated that Guyana has all of the necessary resources of fertile land and produce, as well as a tourism industry, but does not yet have enough educated people to develop those resources into full-fledged industries.

It seems that investing in education in Guyana will make President Granger’s vision of a better socioeconomic country a reality with the coming generations.

Gabriella Paez

Photo: Flickr