“50% of the first-form students at Bartica Secondary School don’t have teachers for classes. Fix it!” MP Juretha Fernandes tells MoE

It is the third week since students across Guyana have returned to school after a two-month recess for the “summer” holidays. However, at a number of schools, the Ministry of Education has been struggling to fix many issues that would enable a conducive environment for learning.

Recently, Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Juretha Fernandes, took to her social media Facebook profile, frustrated at the shortage of teachers in the Region. The MP stated “After two months of the August holiday when schools opened, the Bartica Secondary School students were left eighteen teachers short, almost twenty teachers short. They had existing vacancies for five teachers and then someone had a brilliant idea that it was okay to send thirteen teachers to College (Cyril Potter College of Education). So now, the school in effect has teachers absent, five vacancies, and thirteen at College.”

The Bartica native said, “What is happening there right now at the school is that persons, parents worked hard, earned money, were making sure that their children got books and school supplies and their uniforms and you’re sending them to school every single day and the students are going to school and there’s no one there to teach the classes. More than 50% of the first form students have absolutely no teachers teaching their classes when they go to school. That is the reality on the ground.”

“A lot of times we hear ministers go out there at various forums and they speak up and they speak so nicely. ‘Oh, we’re doing everything that we can to make sure this is up and running.’ We have to be advocates when it comes to young people and the children of this country. It is not fair for children, particularly in the Hinterland communities. And you always hear about these situations, more so in the Hinterland communities. There’s absolutely no system in place. Better management has to be done. This is not the case,” according to MP Fernandes.

MP Fernandes took exception to comments made by the Minister of Education Priya Manickchand last month as the Minister released CSEC and CAPE results. Manickchand at the time was speaking to the issue of matriculation of students in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region. “Matriculation means Students who have five or more subjects with at least Math and English pass From Santa Rosa Secondary in Region 1, 62.58 percent matriculation rate. We’re very proud. Three Miles Secondary, 57. 8 percent matriculation rate. D. C. Caesar Fox Secondary, 56.06 percent matriculation rate. But right in Bartica, a stone’s throw from Three Miles, 21 percent matriculation rate. Same children, same parents, same air, same kind of food. What is it we must do to make sure they look more like three miles?” Minister Manickchand quizzed.

Fernandes said, “The teachers did not go off to College this September. They went off to college since last term. There were two months for them [the ministry] to prepare themselves to make sure that the situation that met new students coming into the school was one that they felt that this was a serious institution. We’re here to learn.  But when the children got there, what they met, rather, was ‘this is a skylarking institution. We come here to lime, we get ready, we get up, and we leave our parents’ homes but when we come here, well, there’s no teacher to teach us. Let’s go chat with our friends, walk around the school, get into some fights’ because there was a fight the very first week of school.”

“I am saying to the Minister of Education and to the Education Department locally in Bartica, fix it. Fix this issue. If you do not have the capacity to have the schools open, then let the parents keep their children home, but do not have parents sending their children out to school for a situation that they are being faced with today. It is absolutely crazy, and I’m asking for it to be fixed immediately. Yes, it’s the same parents, same students, same air, same food, as rightly said, but the big difference is that the school is being starved of the basic resource for children to learn, and that isn – teachers. You cannot have that situation. I’m not even going to get into the furniture because that is a different conversation,” the Member of Parliament stated.