At the most recent sitting of the NGSA for sixth graders (which basically evaluates primary school leavers for their expected entry into the nation’s secondary schools), many private schools evidently dominated the top spots once again in 2017, with only one public school scraping a single spot in the top ten ratings for exceptional performance.
However, while many parents in the private education sector are celebrating the NGSA results, dozens of parents whose children had passed through the sixth grade of the public school system are pointing their fingers at several sixth-grade teachers for the seemingly lax performance of their children at the NGSA.
For those parents, the teaching profession has become a “selfish right-of-passage career field” for many of the persons who are currently enrolled as educators.
Citing the number of sixth grade teachers that are currently attending the University of Guyana and other tertiary institutions, many parents are adamant that their children are being neglected simply because many of the teachers allegedly spend more than half of their school week outside of the school or most of their half days away from the class because they have to go to UG or elsewhere.
“Some of these teachers don’t care about no bady but demself”, said one irate parent that was interviewed by the Guyana Guardian.
“All dem care about is collecting tax payers money, dress up with de latest, going to UG; and then lef you pickney fuh get dem education de best way deh can”, she continued.
Others contend that if the government should make a thorough check at the UG social sciences faculty (for example), the administration would discover that more than twenty percent of all of the students that are attending that faculty are actually active teachers, who would usually abandon their students to be there.
In many parents view, at least 40 percent of the teachers in the public school system are simply representing their own interest, with a greater percentage of them using the school system as a transit point to gain their experiences in order to go on to greener pastures.
However, several teachers with whom this publication has spoken to are in disagreement with the views of the disgruntled parents.
They lamented that most teachers work hard to ensure that the children under their care get the best result, but the task of education should not be rested upon the shoulders of teachers alone.
They added that parents also have a moral duty to help their children in their quest for educational development.
A few others pointed to a series of common social and domestic issues that are often being faced by many grade six students, which can directly affect the students focus and overall performance at school.
Another teacher who identified herself only as Teacher Gail, lamented that every parent wants their child to make Queens College or some other top school but do not put in the effort and support that is needed to help their child to attain that goal.
For her, teachers in the public school system are often left to the mercy of various forms of criticisms from parents. Hence, any disgruntled feeling over the NGSA results at this time would not be anything new.
But on the other hand, a recently retired education official (who preferred not to be named) told the Guardian that there is indeed a wider occurrence of teacher’s delinquency in the public education system, in as much that it has reached an epidemic proportion.
He blamed many of the head teachers and regional education officials for condoning the unreasonable practice by many teachers, who now operates with a motto to ‘watch each other’s back” when it comes to abandoning their duties to head off to UG.
In his view, the dilemma that students are facing as a result of teachers being absent from class to attend UG can only be rectified if the Ministry of Education seriously decides to make a very firm policy decision regarding teachers who are “cheating students out of their deserved classroom time”.
Moreover, he is not sure that the Minister of Education is actually aware of the scale of the problem, since many regional officials would usually prefer to keep such occurrences under wraps.
He concluded that while the media can help to bring this sad situation to the attention of the powers that may be; only an independent investigation by an external entity (not linked to the Ministry) can truly help the State to understand the gravity of the problem, and its negative impact on students.