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Analysis of proposed post-secondary education for development policy for Guyana

The following provides an analysis of what an ideal post-secondary education for development policy for Guyana might look like within the context of migration and re-migration of post-secondary educators and conducts this analysis within the following context:

  • Objectives of the policy
  • The environment within which the policy will operate
  • Boundaries and limits that would affect the policy
  • Ethical issues impacting the policy

The main objective of an ideal post-secondary education for development policy for Guyana would be to provide a framework for the advancement of post-secondary education as a tool for national social and economic development. Guyana is a developing country in the 21st century and its most important resource is its people, therefore a policy advocating the advancement of its people’s intellectual skill set as a means of development is of paramount importance. This is supported by Mellow and Katopes (2009) who state, “in order to respond to the burgeoning global knowledge economy, each nation must educate a greater number of people to higher levels than ever before” (p. 56).

Such a policy would also guarantee quality, affordable post-secondary education that is equally available and affordable to all Guyanese citizens. It would ensure that students who are qualified and would like to pursue post-secondary education can do so and are not deterred by the cost. It would allow for the development of private post-secondary education institutions alongside government-funded institutions, but in a way that does not promote education commodification and protects the interest of the Guyanese education consumer.

The policy would ensure that systems are in place to measure the quality of post-secondary education being provided by private and government-run institutions and to ensure that quality control measures are in line with existing policies for national social and economic development. It would outline the role quality control councils or bodies play in ensuring that the quality of the education provided to the Guyanese people by both private and government-run post-secondary education institutions are in line with this policy.

The policy would also clearly outline how the gap between secondary school and university and between secondary school and the work force would be bridged. This is a problem faced by most developing countries and Guyana as noted by Spangler & Tyler (2011), “a missing link in most countries is the community college role that facilitates the transition between high school and skilled employment or the university—an institutional mandate to enhance skills of young adults” (p. 43).

The policy would also use various incentives to attract migrant and re-migrant educators to the post-secondary education system. These could include competitive salaries with generous allowances for relocating, housing and transportation, easily available work permits with a path to citizenship, cheap land for housing development, and duty-free concessions.

The environment

Since Guyana is one of the poorest countries on in the Western Hemisphere with “a GDP per capita of US$ 4,053 (2014)” (The World Bank, 2016), policy regarding social and economic development should be the top of the government’s agenda. This proposed policy would promote post-secondary education as a means of social and economic development.

The current post-secondary education system in Guyana includes technical and vocational institutions, a teacher training college, a government run university and other newer and smaller universities and continuing education. However, the education system does not include a community college which can enhance the skills of the Guyanese workforce and help to bridge the gap between secondary and tertiary education, and between secondary education and the workforce as noted by Spangler & Tyler (2011).

In Guyana, the Ministry of Education is responsible for overseeing all education in Guyana from nursery to university, which includes TVET, teacher training and adult and continuing education. This means that all policy regarding education emanates from this ministry, therefore this ministry would play a principal role in the development and implementation of the proposed policy. In addition, the role of the government as a whole cannot be understated because it would need to outline a clear vision of how education would be used as one of the tools for national social and economic development, with the Ministry of Education being responsible for the implementation of that aspect of the government’s vision.

At present, the environment for post-secondary educators in Guyana is not hospitable because of poor salaries and the low numbers these professionals available resulting from the high migration rate of qualified professionals on the whole. Any new policy on post-secondary education must address this environment in an effort to stop the hemorrhaging of qualified post-secondary educators.

Boundaries and limits

The knowledge base of a country’s human resources, in addition to its natural resources, determine the nature and direction social and economic development takes in any nation, especially developing nations. Therefore, human resources place a serious limitation on the pace and type of development of any nation, regardless of what natural resources the country has at its disposal. The 21st century economy of a developing nation is heavily dependent on the knowledge base of its human resources and places a serious limitation on its social and economic development.

Developing nations need to broaden the knowledge base of their citizens if they are to survive and succeed in the new economy of the 21st century. Although Guyana has many natural resources that include gold, diamonds, bauxite, timber, rice and sugar, the human resource is one of the most vital in the 21st century. This is because the human resources can help determine how efficiently the natural resources are used and can effect how many people will benefit from the knowledge based sector of the economy created from the spin offs from using natural resources. The large Guyanese diaspora of qualified professionals that resulted from over the three decades of migration can, with the right incentives, be a pool that can be used to repopulate our skilled human resource pool with the skilled labour that is so vital in the 21st century.

The agenda of the political party in power is also a key limiting factor. This is because if the development of the nation’s human resource capital via post-secondary education is not on their agenda then such a policy would not be pursued by the government.