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

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Recommendations for Guyana and other developing countries

Public and private post-secondary education institutions in Guyana and other developing countries must to work together with government and citizens to ensure quality, affordability, and equity of availability of post-secondary education. Here are four main measures that can be put in place to make this happen:

  • Post-Secondary education development policy,
  • Quality assurance and assessment
  • Institutional effectiveness, and
  • Community college development
Post-Secondary education development policy

There should be a national post-secondary education for development policy that, among other things, safeguards economic development, meets the current and anticipated socio-economic needs of Guyanese people, guarantees quality, affordable post-secondary education that is equally available and affordable to all citizens. Such a policy should be within the context of an ‘education for development’ framework, part of a ten or twenty year plan to use education as a means of economic and social development for the country and be cognizant of the fact that government will not be able to meet the demand for tertiary education.

A post-secondary education development policy has to be visionary, it has to take into account the public interest that post-secondary education serves and it has to protect the country and its citizens from education commodification while allowing the private sector help to meet the demand (Naidoo 4). This policy should also ensure that every post-secondary education institution serves the public good and is not just part of an economic development strategy, while at the same time it should not be too rigid so as to deter foreign investors in post-secondary education (Singh 11). Public education policy and national education policy frameworks is nothing new, and has been used to transform nations into regional hubs of learning for higher education (Naidoo 7), and the same can be done in Guyana if such policy is prudently established and managed.

Based on the foregoing, here is a summary of some of the elements of a national post-secondary education for development policy:

  • Vision.
  • Safeguards economic development.
  • Meets the current and anticipated socio-economic needs of its people.
  • Guarantees quality, affordable post-secondary education that is equally available and affordable to all citizens.
  • Within the context of an ‘education for development’ framework.
  • Part of a long-term plan to use education as a means of economic and social development.
  • Take into account the public interest that post-secondary education serves.
  • Protect the country and its citizens from education commodification while allowing the private sector help to meet the demand.
  • Ensure that every post-secondary education institution serves the public good and is not just part of an economic development strategy.
Quality assurance and assessment

Establish a national body to monitor post-secondary quality assurance assessment and based on the results of regular assessment accredit public and private post-secondary institutions:

  • Establish a national post-secondary education quality assurance and assessment body and create a permanent office for this body.
  • Conducting comprehensive quality assurance reviews of all post-secondary institutions in Guyana that include reviews of their programs, analyzing their assessment and outcomes, and assessing their total quality management, accountability and performance indicators will be the responsibility of the post-secondary education quality assurance and assessment body.
  • Issuing accreditation statuses based on the outcomes of quality assurance reviews will be the responsibility of the national post-secondary education quality assurance and assessment body.
  • Ensure that the post-secondary education quality assurance and assessment body has rotating and permanent members and officers.
  • Ensure that the post-secondary education quality assurance and assessment body has a five year review schedule and cycle that details when post-secondary education institutions will be assessed for quality assurance.
  • Publicly funded post-secondary education institutions must be subjected to regular assessment from the post-secondary education quality assurance and assessment body.

The National Accreditation Council of Guyana is the first step towards a body such as the one outlined above. However, based on its document ‘general conditions for maintenance of registration of post secondary and tertiary institutions’, the National Accreditation Council of Guyana is primarily concerned with the registration of private post-secondary institutions and does not speak to regular detailed assessment as a quality control mechanism. Its operational mandate needs to be widened to include regular comprehensive quality assurance mechanisms as outlined above.

Institutional effectiveness

Establish a national post-secondary education institutional effectiveness review board, where all government funded post-secondary education institutions must undergo a five-year institutional effectiveness review as part of comprehensive quality control measures and to verify that these institutions meet the current and perceived future needs of the society:

  • Establish a national post-secondary education institutional effectiveness review board and create a permanent office for this board.
  • Verifying that publicly funded post-secondary education institutions meet the current and perceived future needs of Guyanese society will be the responsibility of the post-secondary education institutional effectiveness review board.
  • Ensure that the post-secondary education institutional effectiveness review board has rotating and permanent members and officers.
  • Ensure that the institutional effectiveness review board has a five year review schedule and cycle that details which post-secondary institutions will be reviewed for institutional effectiveness and when.
  • Publicly funded post-secondary education institutions must be subjected to regular review from the post-secondary education institutional effectiveness review board.

The five-year institutional effectiveness review period can serve as a point at which metrics used to measure institutional effectiveness can be reviewed along with the effectiveness of the collection of all public post-secondary institutions in Guyana. In essence, this can be the basis for a regular five-year inquiry into the effectiveness of the post-secondary institutions, the effectiveness of the post-secondary institutional effectiveness measures, and a source for continuous improvement of the post-secondary institutional effectiveness measures and post-secondary institutions themselves.

Community college development

Spangler and Arthur notes, “there is an urgent and growing need among developing nations to import foreign educational institutions for the purpose of fostering their own economic development and capacity building” (41). One such educational institution is the community college because they “can deliver an educated workforce affordably, efficiently, quickly, flexibly, and responsively, especially in countries where trained, skilled workers are increasingly in demand” (Spangler and Arthur 50).

The existing education system in Guyana does not include a community college. The government or private entities need to develop and build a community college into the country’s post-secondary education system. This community college would be set up to ensure an easy transition from secondary school to university by serving as a bridge between secondary and university education for those initially unable to obtain admission to the University of Guyana or other universities, and would enhance the skills of the nation’s workforce by offering specific and relevant short programs complimented with recognized qualifications (Captain).

Here is a list of some of the possible goals of a community college integrated into the existing education system in Guyana:

  • Prepare students for baccalaureate programs at the University of Guyana and other universities locally and worldwide by offering associate degree programs.
  • Enhance the skills of the Guyanese workforce by offering certificate programs that guarantee a certain level of knowledge, skills and competence in specific areas relevant to the social and economic development of Guyana.
  • Enhance the skills of the Guyanese workforce by offering offer short professional development courses, sponsored by the companies and organizations that want them, and geared towards the specific needs of that company or organization, groups of companies or organizations, or public demand and are in line with an ‘education for development’ policy.
  • Offer remedial classes for students who were not fully successful at the CXC examinations but would nonetheless like to pursue higher education.
  • Bridge the gap between secondary and university making it easier for students who cannot gain entrance to university initially to make up for their academic deficiencies (Captain).

Benjamin states that “education is a key to human capital development, and therefore a key goal national leaders will take on is how to improve their educational infrastructure” (13). A community college is a great means of improving educational infrastructure in a developing nation such as Guyana.