Delegates from Guyana visit Durham College

Bogumila Anaya (middle) Manager – International Projects and Partnership at Durham College with Marti DeSouza (left) and Julian Cambridge (right) from the Ministry of Education in Guyana. Photo credit: Tracey Bowers-Lee

Guyana’s education ministry is looking for new ways to help improve teaching in secondary schools – and it’s turning to Durham College for help.

Recently, delegates from the country’s Ministry of Education came to DC for a week-long study tour.

The purpose of the visit was to look at how DC works with industry to prepare students for the workforce.

Ministry representatives of four secondary schools in the country, as well as three school principals from different regions in Guyana, are refurbishing and expanding their workshops, classrooms and labs. This allows the schools to implement the Caribbean Vocational Qualification certification in five subject areas.

“Countries come to DC to learn our Canadian best practices,” said Bogumila Anaya, manager of international projects and partnerships. “Our linkages to industry are a very unique model because it means that industries are providing us with information about what students need to know.”

“Industries also donate equipment and invest in our institution, which means students get training specific to what is needed for their specific industry. Ultimately, students are hired back into the industries who invest in us.”

The ministry in Guyana wants to increase the number of secondary school graduates with appropriate skills and competencies to successfully enter the job market.

“All of the different heads of the departments. The interface we have had with the various resource persons there was something to take away from each one of them,” said Marti DeSouza, district education officer for the Department of Education in Guyana.

He said there are things he can take back and implement almost immediately. Others would be applied at policy levels to influence change over time. The research and data are important to make needed change, said DeSouza. He added there needs to be evidence of success.

“What’s very impressive is the relationship the college and industry have. It is almost a dependent factor, the college dependent on industry and industry dependent on college. That is something we have not seen back in Guyana,” he said. “One of the best practices we will definitely take back is we want to turn out students to fill industry needs and community needs.”

Julian Cambridge, a principal in Guyana, said the policies may be difficult to apply but it’s the gathering of the information that can help the education system.

“I want to ensure and to encourage more of our young people to realize that without education there is nothing,” he said.

He said there is a surge coming to Guyana’s economy with the discovery of oil and there will be a need for an education system that provides for the needs of the oil economy. There will be a need for technical vocational programs, according to Cambridge.

“We have to advance in that area in order to fill the gap the oil sector will create, and we have to provide it locally,” he said.

The Ministry of Education wants to assist the government and stakeholders with fundamental concerns about the future and coordination of technical vocational education and training programs in Guyana.

“The government needs to see the bigger picture. It’s not about party politics. It’s to see the bigger picture and to look beyond their five-year term,” said DeSouza. “Education transcends politics. We have to mould the education system in a way that it works for us so that we can supply our labour force and we don’t have to import skills. We can support the skills that we need in our industries.”

The group of seven secured funding from the Caribbean Development Bank to visit DC.