2000 GUY: Effecting A Smooth Transition from Nursery to Primary
Author: Rodrigues, A. M.
"Effecting a Smooth Transition from Nursery to Primary" was a five-year project, funded by UNICEF and executed by the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Education. The objectives of the project were:
- to contribute to a reduction in the drop-out and repetition rates and the improvement of the relevance of basic education
- to raise awareness of the needs and concerns of children at the various levels of the education system and introduce more participatory and child-centered teaching methods
- to motivate students and parents to become interested and involved in the learning process, especially as it relates to the transition from one stage to another
Purpose / Objective
This evaluation sought to document the lived experiences of the children, teachers and parents involved in the transition from Nursery to Primary in selected administrative regions in Guyana and to make an assessment of the impact of the interventions. Specifically the evaluation sought to:
- explore and describe the range of experiences of children, classroom teachers, administrators, IFOs and parents who benefitted from the project
- ascertain the effectiveness of the curriculum guides and their supporting material, which were produced for the purpose of the project
- determine the extent to which the participatory and child-centered teaching methods have been successful
- determine the effectiveness of the use of the Cumulative Record Card by the nursery teachers, the primary teachers, and the parents
The regions in which the evaluation was done, Region 1, 6, 9 10 and Georgetown, were identified by UNICEF. Except for Georgetown, all schools were selected by the Education Departments of the respective Regions. For Georgetown, the evaluator randomly selected the Primary Schools in which NFOs were attached. A representative sample was drawn.
Questionnaires were given to teachers and the Infant Field Officers (IFO). Community meetings were held with parents, guardians and other interested public. Interviews with ministry officials and school administrators were held along with focus group discussions with nursery school teachers. Documents and relevant reports were analyzed.
Key Findings and Conclusions
The Infant Field Officers (IFOs) programme was definitely a success. The programme's objectives, content and activities were appropriate and catered to the needs of the trainees.
However, under 40% of the IFOs felt that more emphasis should have been placed on the curriculum, and the Cumulative Record Card. More than half the teacher respondents admitted having difficulty in preparing and accurately completing the Cumulative Record Card. Many schools did not receive adequate quantities of the Record Cards. The absence of manuals was also identified as a setback.
The IFO programme laid a firm foundation for effecting integration and continuity in schools. However, financial constraints forced some Education Departments to indefinitely stop all supervisory activities of IFOs. The knowledge and skills of IFOs were therefore not fully utilized.
The example of Region 10, where monthly consultations were held among IFOs and officers within the Education Department to share experiences and give support to each other's initiatives, is laudable, and should be practiced in other regions. Region 10 demonstrated that consistent and meaningful support from Education departments; close interaction among nursery and primary schools; and very active parent involvement and positive attitudes among stakeholders are key factors that guaranteed success.
The sensitization programmes were not as effective as anticipated as the perception was that many parents do not quite understand the objectives of the transition process. Except for Region 10, teachers across the regions are unsure of the impact of the sensitization programmes. The timing of radio programmes, and the mode of presentation of television programmes were inconvenient and sometimes not very appropriate for all categories of parents. The data suggested that while the majority of teachers claimed that parents are encouraged to participate, a greater effort should be made to involve parents more meaningfully in the process. For example, parents can help to make teaching aids. This could be done in specially arranged sessions during which the benefits and value of various methods and activities are discussed.
Despite the fact that the Ministry of Education expended money, time, and energy on media programmes, more than 90% of the parents were unaware of such activities.
While definitive statements cannot be made on the success rate of the transition process on repetition rates in Levels I and II, the transition process showed the potential to stem this phenomenon. It was pointed out that consideration must be given to the fact that social, economic and geographical factors may have smothered some of the positive effects of the transition process. Nevertheless, Year 2 of the project recorded the greatest impact. Without a doubt, the intervention process did guarantee a smoother transition from Nursery to Primary.
Efforts should be made to:
establish closer links among all stakeholders until such time that all teachers are equally interested in the process; work together throughout the academic year and visit each other's classroom to ensure improvements
establish closer links among Regional Education Officers and other junior officers within the Education Department
ensure more efficient and effective monitoring in the Education Department in the Regions; Central Ministry should not rely on the report of Regional Education Officers only
There is an urgent need to make adequate cards and manuals available; and to prepare and execute interactive workshop sessions specially targetted at understanding and implementing the Cumulative Record Card
It may be better to group categories of teachers (e.g. new recruits, experienced but untrained teachers, etc.) and prepare workshops to match the pace of these teachers. This will help to erase fears of insecurities/inferiority complex etc.
A more accurate assessment of the impact of the transition process on the repetition rate in Levels I and II will necessitate a research of a greater magnitude.
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