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Recommendations for 21st century post-secondary education in Guyana and other developing countries - Post-secondary education in developing countries

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Post-secondary education in developing countries

Over the last two decades the number of students globally who were enrolled in post-secondary institutions has grown a great deal and is projected to continue growing as societies develop and there is a greater need for a post-secondary education in an ever increasing knowledge driven world economy. Globally, between 2000 and 2007, there has been a 53% increase in the number of students enrolled in tertiary education worldwide to more than 150 million (Altbach, Reisberg, and Rumbley vi), which reached 170 million in 2009 and is expected to grow to at 1.4% per year between 2011 and 2020 to almost 200 million (British Council 4-5). Though much of this increase is in the developed world, one estimate says that the number of students worldwide will be 269 million by 2025 with a more than 3% average annual growth in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Central America and South America over the preceding 20-year period (Maslen).

Developing countries face and will continue to face increased demand for post-secondary education institutions and the skilled graduates they produce and are beginning to realize the importance of post-secondary education and its role in, and relationship to, development. Chapman and Austin 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, and that they cannot alienate students and their families who wish to better themselves by improving their education to succeed in this new economy (14). Consequently, governments of developing nations, who have always had a role in higher-level educational institutions, are now redefining their relationships with these institutions so that they have more say in the role these institutions play in the development of their countries.

Historically, in developed and developing countries, the government has always contributed financially to the development of post-secondary institutions and has directed public policy on education that are in line with that country’s development goals. However, in recent times because of the rising demand for post-secondary education in developing nations there has been an influx of non-state sponsored or private post-secondary education institutions, which only respond to demand for an education product and are generally not interested in public policy or a country’s development goals. Naidoo urges caution and recognizes that both government and private enterprises are needed in developing countries to meet the demand for post-secondary education, and that “it may therefore be necessary to pay much closer attention to developing policy that might shape the operation of markets in higher education” (13).

Post-secondary education in Guyana

The Ministry of Education in Guyana is the largest Ministry in Guyana and is responsible for overseeing the education system in Guyana from nursery to university. Based on extracts of its Digest of Education Statistics, the Ministry had a little under 14,000 students enrolled in post-secondary government run institutions for the 2011/12 academic year (89-124).

At the post-secondary and tertiary level, the education system in Guyana comprises the following functioning components:

  • Technical and vocational education
  • Teacher training education
  • University level education
  • Continuing education (Ministry of Education Guyana “Strategic Plan” 15)

There are eight technical and vocational education institutions with over 4,700 students enrolled, which is about 34% of the post-secondary student population. There is one teacher training facility with almost 1,800 students enrolled, which is about 13% of the post-secondary student population. There is one university, which has almost 7,400 students, which is about 53% of the post-secondary student population (Ministry of Education Guyana “Digest: Technical”; “Digest: Tertiary”).

The National Accreditation Council of Guyana was established in July 2004 by an act of parliament requiring that all post-secondary institutions in Guyana be registered and it aims to establish a quality assurance system that promotes quality education in Guyana (Nat’l Accreditation Council, “About”). According to its website, there are 17 post-secondary education institutions in Guyana that were fully registered, provisionally registered, or in the process of being registered (Nat’l Accreditation Council, “Registration Status”). However, there was no data on the number of students enrolled in any or all of these institutions, the nature or type of post-secondary education activity conducted by each institution, and the details of its assessment and quality assurance activities.