Today, the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Education officially launched the Guyana Skills Development and Employability Project at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown.
The project is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) with a total sum of US$12, 252, 000. The institutions that will be targeted under this project are Fellowship Practical Instruction Centre (PIC) Region three, Beterverwagting PIC, Region four, Hopetown PIC, Region five, St. Ignatius Secondary School, Region nine, Bartica Secondary School, Region seven, Mahdia Secondary School, Region eight and North-West Secondary in Region one.
The aim of this project is to boost Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) in Guyana. Chairperson of this morning’s event, Ms. Yvette Archer, Head Mistress of St. Ignatius Secondary School, said that the objective of the project is to provide school leavers with the opportunity to attain and acquire the appropriate skills and competencies to successfully enter the job market, an economic enterprise or to pursue appropriate post-secondary education and training. “I am very happy with this project because it speaks to equity. Many times, we talk about equality and we all know our children in Guyana, many times the emphasis is on the academic and seldom emphasis is placed on vocational studies. This project lends itself to having our students equipped with the skills by the time they would have completed their secondary education, they will also have an opportunity to express themselves in the employability skills.”
Further, Assistant Chief Education Officer (ag), Mr. Michael Turner said that the launch of the project is the second of its type to be launched in Guyana. He said that under the first project, the Leonora and Mahaicony Technical Training Centres and the development of a Data, Records and Information Management System. He said that the thrust to develop human resource capacity will not only fuel economic growth through the availability of skilled labour, but “it will also ensure that our young men and women leave our secondary schools as individuals who are able to think outside the box.”
He added that the initiative is timely and answers a multitude of questions. “This project will answer the question of how to reduce the cost of access to TVET for young people, young men and women, completing secondary school and of course not able because of learning or other impediments. These young people will now be able to develop skills and competencies in greater numbers because of the ease of access that will be afforded by Technical and Vocational Education being provided closer to home.”
Mr. Turner said that Guyana must return to producing and maintaining the high level of skilled workers that are encouraged to remain as contributory citizens to Guyana’s that will not find it necessary to leave the country to gain better remuneration for the skills they have acquired. Representing the Caribbean Development Bank was Portfolio Manager, Social Sector Division, Dr. Idamay P. Denny. She informed those gathering that the theme for the project launch workshop is: “From skills to prosperity, skills development and technical education for the 21st century.”
She said that the theme strongly echoes the approach and strategic direction of the CDB. According to Dr. Denny at the CDB’s recent Board of Directors meeting in October 2017, a new Education and Training Policy and Strategy was approved and linked in many ways to the region’s political priority of delivering sustainable employment, social parity and inclusive growth. “In this regard, the Bank’s agenda is clear. As the leading multilateral development agency in the region, we will continue to work with our borrowing member countries to ensure that our people and their skills are at the heart of the region’s growth and development. This is our mission.”
She said that interventions such as the launch of the Guyana Skills Development and Employability Project form part of the CDB’s methodology to achieve their mission. According to Dr. Denny, since the beginning of the 21st Century, Guyana’s economy has experienced sustained growth and poverty levels have seen some decline. “To remain on this growth trajectory, the country has made a conscious decision to give the development of skills a much more explicit focus in its development strategy.” Dr. Denny said that the CDB’s has a duty to ensure that it pushes Guyana to the fullest to achieve the best possible results for the people of this country.
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer, Mr. Marcel Hutson, during his remarks stated that the importance of Technical and Vocational Education cannot be overemphasised. He said that currently TVET is offered in secondary schools through strategically placed Practical Instruction Centres (PIC).
He said that significant disparities exist in relation to those institutional arrangements over the 11 education districts. “As such, the various centres and departments that have been identified in this project aimed at improving our capacity to deliver technical and vocational programs equitably across our country.” According to the CEO, this project is a pilot exercise initially, that will result in all the students across the secondary sector access skills training for the world of work or continuous lifelong education. He said that the project will place Guyana’s secondary sector on parity with its counterparts in the Caribbean, thereby fulfilling the CARICOM TVET strategy of streamlining TVET in secondary schools allowing students to leave school with a skills certificate in addition to the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).