Government of Guyana’s policy on post-secondary education as a tool for national economic and social development - Policy Analysis
The following analysis is conducted according to what is outlined in the chapter ‘Conduction Policy Analysis in Higher Education’ of the book ‘Public Policy in Higher Education’ by Lovell, Larson, Dean & Longanecker (2010). It first defines the objectives of the policy, then gives a description of the environment that the policy will effect. This is followed by a list and description of the boundaries and limits affecting the policy and finally recommendations for the policy are given.
The main objective of the policy outlined above 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).
The 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 measures are in place to measure the quality of post-secondary education being provided by private and government-run institutions and ensure that quality control measures are in line with the aforementioned framework 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).
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). This should place policy regarding social and economic development at the top of the government’s agenda and this policy promotes post-secondary education as a means of social and economic development.
The post-secondary education system 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.
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 of the aforementioned policy.
The government as a whole would also play a pivotal role because the proposed policy calls for using an education for development framework for national social and economic development. The government would need to outline a clear vision of how education would be used as a tool for national social and economic development and then pass it on to the Ministry of Education for the implementation of the details of such a policy.
Boundaries and limits
The 21st century economy of a developing nation is heavily dependent on the knowledge base of its human resources. 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 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.
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 because this 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 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.
A current analysis of the current Government of Guyana policy on post-secondary education’s role in economic and social development shows that it only attracts two lines in its ‘Education Sector Plan 2014-2018’. It states, “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).
A more detailed policy is thus proposed that entails the following:
- Provide a clear 10 to 20 year vision for post-secondary education in Guyana.
- Provide a framework for the advancement of post-secondary education as a tool for national social and economic development.
- Safeguard national economic development by broadening of the intellectual base of its workers through post-secondary education.
- Guarantee quality, affordable post-secondary education that is equally available and affordable to all citizens.
- Facilitate the transition between high school and skilled employment or the university.
- Facilitate private sector education entrepreneurship and development while protecting the country and its citizens from education commodification.
- Cognizant of the public interest that post-secondary education serves, both public and private institutions and ardently protects this interest.
- Cognizant of the role of that the knowledge base of the nation’s human resources plays in the 21st century economy.
- Provide systems to manage and monitor the quality of post-secondary education being provided by private and government-run institutions, ensuring that they are in line with international standards.