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Written on 14-Jun-2016 by Fidel A. Captain.

Abstract

This paper is the course project for ED5572, which involves conducting policy analysis of a government policy issue of importance and relevance to higher education today. To this end, this paper will analyze the Government of Guyana’s policy on post-secondary education as a tool for national economic and social development. It first gives a background of this public policy and the role of government in developing higher education policy. This is followed by a detailed analysis of this policy that includes objectives, the environment, boundaries and limits, and recommendations. Next, the ethical issues related to this policy are discussed, which include education commodification, quality, access and cost. Finally, the impact of this policy on post education in Guyana is discussed.

Background

Public policy on higher education plays an important role in long term strategic planning for the national development of any country because the most important resource of any nation is its people and there must be strong post-secondary education policy regarding the developent and use of the nation’s human capital for economic and social development.

The public policy topic that will be explored is:
“Government of Guyana’s policy on post-secondary education as a tool for national economic and social development”.

The reason for choosing this topic is because the author is from Guyana and is very interested in higher education in Guyana and using higher education as a tool for economic and social development in Guyana. Guyana is one of the poorest countries on in the Western Hemisphere and the author strongly believes that education is one of the tools that can be used alleviate poverty and grow the middle class in Guyana.

The author also believes that in addition to using education as a tool for economic and social development, a broad post-secondary education base is necessary in order survive and succeed in the new knowledge based economy of the 21st century. Mellow and Katopes (2009) stress that developing nations must educate more citizens to higher levels, espousing a greater number of citizens with mid-level intellectual skill sets, which they argue will lead to a larger middle class enabling citizens to move across income levels (p. 56). In addition, Chapman and Austin (2002) notes that governments recognize the need for their education system to produce citizens with the skills necessary to succeed in the new technological and information based economy (p.14).

The role of government in higher education policy

In most developing countries, including Guyana, there is usually one ministry or governmental department that deals with education, and hence all public policy relating to education and higher education tends to come out of this ministry or department. This policy is usually made manifest in the form of an education strategic plan, an education master plan or an education sector plan. In some countries, such as Malaysia, there is a separate ministry for post-secondary education and a separate strategic plan for post-secondary Education (Azman, Sirat & Ahmad, 2014, p. 306).

These education strategic or master plans tend to set the stage for five or ten years as to what the overarching government policy will be, the framework within which the government’s education policy will be implemented and the role the government will play in higher education over that period. The role of the government in higher education policy in developing countries at any point in time is usually determined by the current education strategic or master plan, or part of a larger vision for the development of that nation. In Guyana, there is the ‘Guyana Education Sector Plan 2014-2018’, which is not evidently part of any larger development strategy; but in Malaysia, there is the ‘National Higher Education Strategic Plan 2020’, which arose out of the Mahathir’s ‘Vision 2020’ in 1991 where he envisioned Malaysia being a developed country by 2020 that led to education policy changes that would oversee the development of Malaysia’s human capital as part of his vision (Tham, 2013, p. 651).

In the ‘Guyana Education Sector Plan 2014-2018’, “The Ministry defines education as more than the instrumental activity for supporting greater national development or reducing poverty” (Ministry of Education, n.d., p. v) and that in recognizing the changing economic and technological climate “requires that the Ministry commit to a policy of providing continuing education and training opportunities for the adult population” (Ministry of Education, n.d., p. v). This outlines the role the government intends to play in driving and supporting higher education in Guyana over the next few years, and also the way it sees education as contributing to national development.