Transforming the future of education in Guyana

17 February 2023


A school in Guyana.

In Guyana, a system transformation reform is underway, putting equity and inclusion in education high on the agenda for this multicultural nation. Signed on 16 February by the Ministry of Education and partners, the reform comes as part of a System Capacity Grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to strengthen instructional leadership at district and school levels and promote equitable learning by strengthening culturally responsive and effective instructional leadership and improved accountability at district and school levels.

“We see this project as a very important initiative to transform education and take us down the road to improvement,” said Nicola Johnson, Chief Planning Officer at the Ministry of Education in Guyana during the signing of the Partnership Compact.

The signing and endorsement workshop brought together the Local Education Group (LEG), regional and district education officers, head teachers, inspectors, and development partners. “We very much look forward to the various support that we've gotten and the commitment from our development partners,” Johnson continued. The Inter-American Development Bank will coordinate the Compact’s implementation, in collaboration with UNESCO as the Grant Agent and IIEP as the technical lead in its design.

The reform calls for education system transformation while paying close attention to the rich multicultural diversity of this South American nation. Inside Guyana’s education system, learners and teachers represent a myriad of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

“Guyana stands at a critical juncture as it makes the leap to be successful within a changing regional and global economic environment that presents both challenges and opportunities,” said IIEP’s Director a.i. Jordan Naidoo. “To realize its potential, Guyana must transform its education system to ensure quality learning outcomes for all, young and old, girls and boys, those in the hinterland and along the coast and more developed towns and cities, and the most vulnerable.”

The reform identifies key areas for transformation, starting with strengthening the capacities of district and school leaders, in particular, through the establishment of a leadership academy. It will revise the recruitment, deployment, and promotion modalities of these professionals and develop a public recognition system for high-performing and innovative leaders. It will also review the resource allocation mechanisms to districts and schools to identify and address inequities and improve the overall coordination and collaboration within the education system, with increased representation from Guyana’s diverse communities.

“Guyana’s Partnership Compact stands out for two reasons”, said Talia Miranda, GPE Country Team Lead. “First, the reform area is very focused and strategic. It addresses a key bottleneck in the system and one that can make all the difference in schools, helping them to transform resources into learning for all students. Second, the approach used to develop the Partnership Compact was quite exemplary, particularly the level of thought, consultation, and dialogue that went into co-constructing it with stakeholders.”

As the technical lead for the Partnership Compact, IIEP draws on 60 years of experience in supporting UNESCO Member States in educational planning and management and its expertise in the middle tier of education systems. An important part of the reform will focus on strengthening the capacities of middle-tier actors – those who are placed in the middle space of education systems between state-level policy-making and classrooms. Facing the multicultural diversity of Guyana, these instructional leaders are the best placed to ensure the adaptation of national education policies to each specific context.

“These capacities are particularly important at sub-national, district and school, and community levels,” said Naidoo. “As a key technical partner, drawing on our expertise in training technical assistance and research, IIEP stands ready to help strengthen the capacity of District officers, inspectors, school head teachers, and community stakeholders who are critical for moving from policy to action and outcomes.”

Chief Education Officer, in Guyana, Saddam Hussain also highlighted that strengthening the capacity of school leaders will greatly transform the education system.

The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Alfred King remarked that “education transformation is necessary as Guyana continues to rapidly develop.” He also shared similar sentiments that developing leadership skills at the school level will yield results, which will contribute to further development.

Press conference for signing the Statement of Endorsement of the Partnership Compact, on February 16, 2023 in Guyana
©Ministry of Education, Guyana