WorldTeach volunteer Erin Dunnington has fallen in love with the country & people of Guyana. She enjoyed her year of teaching abroad so much that she has decided to return for a second year. Check out Erin’s plans for the upcoming year and see how you can help out!
On August 12th, 2012 I begin my second year abroad teaching Biology in Guyana through WorldTeach. The Guyanese education system is currently struggling. Due to inadequate funding, the schools are often in a state of disrepair and the classrooms are short on basic supplies like textbooks, desks, and chairs. Many of the science classes, especially Biology, must operate without the basic laboratory equipment necessary to facilitate student learning. Lack of adequate funding by the Ministry of Education leaves teachers earning a salary below living wage so qualified Guyanese teachers often leave the country to find work with equitable pay elsewhere. The lack of teachers also results in student overcrowding and eventual drop out.
The WorldTeach program was first established by a group of Harvard students in the 1980s who were interested in using their education to serve children in developing countries. WorldTeach first began working in Guyana in 2005-2006. The 2012-2013 school year marks the seventh year of teaching service for WorldTeach in Guyana. The Guyanese Ministry of Education is eager for volunteers to enter the country this year due to a large number of teacher vacancies in schools across the nation, specifically in science and mathematics.
I feel so strongly about this program that I have chosen to return to Port Kaituma, Guyana to continue my teaching endeavors for a second year. The money that you generously donated during the 2011-2012 school year helped to provide the necessary equipment and materials for the entire 9th grade (approximately 150 students) to complete their national science project which required them to determine the composition of cow’s milk, to supply the materials required for the students to construct a solar oven for the regional science fair, and to purchase teaching aids and learning materials for the students in my classes.
I have been busy helping the school create extracurricular programs as well. During the 2011-2012 school year, I helped to establish a student council at Port Kaituma Secondary School. These students worked with both teachers and students to clean the school yard, make the school washrooms useable, and begin organized sports activities at the school. I also worked along with a male staff member to encourage both female and male students to participate in a dance team that took first in a regional competition, fourth at a national competition, and have been invited to perform at many events in the community. These extracurricular activities have given the students a sense of pride in their school and, more importantly, have taught them that hard work really does pay off.
My goals this year include getting my Biology class successfully through their school exit exam, rehabilitating the science laboratory at Port Kaituma Secondary School with the chemicals and lab equipment the students need for their science classes, to continue the extracurricular activities I started last school year, and to work with the Guyana Red Cross to establish a HIV/AIDS related peer educator program in the school.
I look forward to teaching in the coming year,
– Erin Dunnington, Guyana Volunteer 2011-13