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MoE to develop distance learning portal to combat learning loss as teachers’ strike continues

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The Guyana Government through the Ministry of Education (MoE) is currently ironing out details for a one-stop portal to implement distance learning, to combat the learning loss in schools in light of the ongoing strike actions called by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU).
The two sides met on Monday but this meeting ended in a stalemate after both sides refused to come to a compromise.

Chief Education Officer (CEO) Saddam Hussain

The Education Ministry had rolled out its distance education programme some time ago during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Guyana Learning Channel and Ed You FM.
To complement this, the Ministry had updated the study worksheets on its website and the list of local textbooks needed for the various levels, a programme that started in 2021.
In an exclusive interview with Guyana Times, Chief Education Officer (CEO) Saddam Hussain disclosed that the one-stop portal will merge the information so that students can access the various sites through one medium.
He explained that this is part of efforts to make learning away from the classroom hassle-free and efficient.
“There needs to be an overarching system that controls all these different pieces, meaning if you have one software and you have the worksheet at the same place, you have the video, you have the audio content. So that is what we’re working on now. But the content online schooling is available.”
The CEO added that live Zoom classes will be implemented later on to ensure that students are engaged given that the ministry collectively decided to cancel the sitting of this year’s end-of-year examinations in schools.
Instead, the automatic promotion policy will be activated to allow for students to advance to new levels within the school system next term. He explained that all the students will be re-evaluated upon their return.
“Well, one of the things that will have to be placed within this new framework that we are currently developing would be live classes…We’re one of the few countries in the world with such a large body of content… A couple of weeks ago, you saw the ministry preparation for CSEC started Zoom classes. We had more than 20,000 children or grade 11 students attending those classes over six weeks… What we need to do now is to give it a little bit more of a priority.”
Hussain posited that the ministry does not intend to replace the role of teachers in the classroom, instead, it is trying to resolve the issues with GTU amicably and in a way that is fair and free from duress.
“We learned from COVID that distance education alone cannot work. Teachers are needed, you can’t have an education system without teachers, but we are going to have disruptions, whether it is a strike or something else, we are going to have disruptions. And so, we need to ensure we have a system in place to cover everything. And we already have the content. What it is now is we need an all-encompassing platform to put this in”.

Proposed 20 per cent
for teachers
On day two of conciliation talks held between the Ministry of Education and the GTU, a document citing a demand for an interim 20 percent across-the-board salary payment for teachers was presented to the Chief Labour Officer by Representatives of the GTU.
The Union requested that the increase be paid to teachers before any conciliation regarding the timeframe for the payment period for salary increases continues. Another meeting was set for Monday, May 20, but that also ended in a deadlock.
The MoE after the meeting stated that it maintained that there be strict adherence to the 1990 agreement and that the grievance procedure be followed as per the said agreement. In this regard, the ministry indicated to GTU that they must end the strike before conciliation can commence on the impasse.
The Ministry of Education insists that the Guyana Teachers’ Union acts in good faith and honours this agreement. Conciliation cannot commence until the strike has ended and a state of normalcy returns. The Ministry of Education reiterates its readiness to work together to determine a multi-year agreement from 2024.
On the other hand, the GTU contends that the “stalled discussions have created a climate of uncertainty, with potential implications for the country’s education system” but it remains hopeful that a fair and equitable agreement can be reached, ensuring that teachers receive the recognition and compensation they deserve for their invaluable contributions to society.
As such, the union stated that it would not call off the strike again without guaranteed benefits for the nation’s teachers.
During a recent press briefing, Education Minister Priya Manickchand made it clear that the Guyana Government will not sign off on the union’s request, noting that the body is setting a “very bad precedent not only for the Guyana government but for governments across the region”.
The Minister had stated that after the meeting on Monday, the Government will take action against the union and distance learning will be instituted in homes to combat the current learning loss.

Resumption of strike
The GTU resumed strike action across the country two weeks ago after talks between the union and Education Ministry reportedly broke down. Prior, teachers after protesting for five weeks had returned to the classroom on March 6 following the intervention of the High Court.
The two sides during a mediation had agreed to return to discussions with the government regarding salary increases. During the follow-up meetings, the union maintained that negotiations should begin from 2019 to 2023 but the government held its grounds and was willing to commence salary negotiations from 2024 beyond.
To date, the government stated that it has already addressed over 20 issues affecting teachers, aimed at improving their working conditions and overall welfare.

The post MoE to develop distance learning portal to combat learning loss as teachers’ strike continues appeared first on Guyana Times.

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