January 10, 2008

THE ROLE OF THE SCHOOL – 4 of 4

Posted in Buxton, Education, Guyana, Lusignan tagged , , at 5:01 am by randallbutisingh

THE ROLE OF THE SCHOOL

(With reference to the Sugar Estate Community in Guyana)

By: Randall Butisingh. – June 1964 Chapters 13-15

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13 – WHAT LUSIGNAN GOVERNMENT SCHOOL ATTEMPTED DURING THE LAST TWO YEARS (1962-64):

1. A systematic course of Environmental Studies throughout the school.

This course began before the issue of the Draft Curriculum Guide and though all classes participated, it was the third and fourth standards (with more than 200 pupils on roll) led by an enterprising teacher, now in the University of the West Indies, which achieved heartening success. The formal readers were almost dispensed with, teachers and pupils collected information for “My Country”, made their own reading lessons and integrated nearly every subject of the curriculum.

Geography dealt with such topics as physical features, climate, productions, communications, important places and neighbors of British Guiana. History dealt with the Amerindians, the early explorers of British Guiana, early settlements, emancipation, Indentureship and the lives of great Guyanese. Civics included our present Constitution, the composition of the Legislature, why Government exists and the contribution of each race group to a Guyanese culture. For Hygiene there were lessons on local diseases. Filaria was dealt with thoroughly as the campaign was on in the area and much interest was evinced by both pupils and teachers. Dr. Crihel addressed teachers in school on the disease and distributed pamphlets with useful information.

Art consisted of drawings and paintings of local scenes, especially people at work. Pupils made maps with paddy, peas, shell and rice; they made cloth-cuts of women planting rice and men planting sugar cane. Maps of British Guiana and local birds were embroidered into hand towels and cushion covers. Nature Study took care of the flora and fauna of the country and Poetry by local authors were recited. The singing was almost exclusively of Guyanese songs and drama had a local setting.

So thoroughly and conscientiously did the teachers pursue this program that they were able in the end to compile a booklet called “A Reference Book on British Guiana?” This effort was highly praised by Mrs. Edith Needleman, child guidance counselor from New York who was one of the lecturers at a seminar for teachers in August 1962, and who was kind enough to write the foreword. This booklet was used during the following school year as a supplementary reader in the third and fourth standards and as a reference book by the Post Primary Department. These teachers also sat in a panel and were interviewed in “The Listener” a program over B.G. B.S, the radio station.

All along the parents were apprised of this venture; sample lessons were read to them at parent –teachers meetings, and when the booklets were ready, they were stenciled and duplicated; then they were bound by the boys of Form II and parents readily procured copies for their children.

Environmental Studies have always provided the basis for our education, as not only did the relevant topics evoke much interest, but it felt that the future Guyanese Citizen in order to function well must be aware of every resource and potential of his country.

2. In service training within the school in order to create interest help with better teaching techniques in the various subjects.

3. Getting in touch with kindergarten teachers and encouraging them to visit our school in order to learn techniques and prepare apparatuses and also to attend our Parent-Teachers meetings.

It cannot be said that these kindergarten schools are doing a good job educationally as most of the teachers have not the necessary training or experience. Most of the children from those schools when they enter the primary schools have to unlearn much of what they have been taught and begin all over again. Parents are not happy about this and some of them blame the primary school teacher for this seeming retrogression. Here the school through the P.T.A. can arrange seminars and use there trained and experienced teachers as lecturers.

4. Preparation of a pupils’ report card: This was submitted to the District Education Officer for the consideration of a special committee organized for this purpose.

5. Parent-Teacher Association: The cooperation of this organization helped considerably in human relations. It eliminated the complaints against teachers helping, thereby in the discipline and tone of the school. Parents also helped materially by building a long concrete strip for the convenience of pupils and teachers in the wet weather. They also helped to dig drains around the school compound. A little before I left on transfer the parents decided unanimously at a meeting to raise funds to meet the expenses, on a self-help basis of extending the bottom flat of the school in order to ease the present congestion and provide accommodation for new children. If this decision is not implemented soon, the school will be forced to resort to the shift system.

6. A Girl’s Club for the cultivation of refinement among the girls and for practicing democracy.

7. A Boy’s Club connected with the Community Center for fostering interest in games, for developing sportsmanship and for practicing democracy.

8. A Cookery Class conducted by the Woman Welfare Officer of the Community Center. Here the girls learn the art of cooking wholesome and nutritive meals and also learn table manners.

9. Road Safety Patrol: This trains pupils for leadership and for voluntary service to the community.

10. A Health Council for stimulating health consciousness, for investigating health problems and for encouraging health practices with a view to improving the health practices of the school and community.

11. Annual Inter-House sports for healthy rivalry, sportsmanship and team spirit.

 

12. Concerts and Exhibitions of Work that gives pupils the opportunity to work together; school and community to meet.

13. A. School Magazine…This gave both teachers and pupils an opportunity to express themselves and for the parents to learn more about what is taking place in the school. The School Magazine is an excellent medium for stimulating community interest. The initial sum of money for this venture was provided by the Parent Teacher Association.

14. A Thrift Society to encourage children to make regular savings and practice self-denial.

 

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14 – WHAT THE SCHOOL IN THE ESTATE COMMUNITY CAN ACHIEVE

 

If regard has been paid to the needs and wants of the Community, The Curriculum has been geared accordingly and the resources of School and Community exploited to its fullest, the child would have an opportunity of achieving the following:

1. A confident outlook and personal interest in his community.

2. Toleration for the opinions of others.

3. Ability to plunge into useful occupation and not unemployed.

4. If employed, ability to use his leisure profitably.

5. Knowledge of the History and resources of his country.

6. Desire for continued education.

7. Belief in the dignity of labor. He will have realized that “Labor disgraces no man; it is man who sometimes disgraces labor.”

8. Realization that work is not only a means of livelihood, but an essential condition of life. Work must bring reward far more lasting than its tangible value.

9. Realization of the Brotherhood of man, the indivisibility of the Human Race and man’s Eternal Destiny.

10. Desire to help his community by giving voluntary community service.

 

It is the function of the modern school, especially in the transplanted community of the Sugar Estate Housing Scheme with its bolstered standard of living to play the major role in cultivating a sense of values and fostering an outlook which will bring harmony, a prerequisite for Community life and living. Amelioration of living standards is false prosperity if it is not followed diligently by education for a better standard of life. These can be achieved if the school, a community itself, remains part of the community and identify itself with its needs, wants and aspirations.

 

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15 – EPILOGUE

The ink was not quite dry on the final chapter of my study paper when events the most fearsome and tragic precipitated the emerging Nation into the greatest crisis in the history of this country. The already over-strained relationship that existed between the two major ethnic groups was further aggravated and is now in a critical state awaiting the most skillful aid to restore harmony.

The racial monster has proved to be no respecter of persons and its baneful influence has reached the schools where values and attitudes are cultivated and fostered.

At Lusignan Government School twenty two Afro Guyanese teachers has had to be relocated because of their ethnic origin. Only two African children remained on the roll of the school which had an enrollment of a thousand and thirty-one. One of these, a ten; year old boy was brutally murdered near the area. Also, three hundred children of refugees of the other ethnic group who fled from their villages had to be accommodated in the school.

This is an alarming state of affairs; both religion and science have pointed to a unity and indivisibility in humanity. The Brotherhood of man is as much a “Fact of Nature” as it is a “Divine Command.” The School’s task now is a formidable one if it is to maintain those values that mean so much for the salvation of the human race.

It is hoped that the country’s predicament will shock our education policy makers and teachers into greater responsibility and consciousness of the importance of values. Restoring racial harmony, a prerequisite in our schools is a task of considerable magnitude, but this task is not impossible of accomplishment if there is realization, understanding and dedicated effort.

 

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