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Guyana launches Portuguese curriculum for secondary schools

Left to Right: Portuguese teachers Candida Williams, Dianne Blenman and Monica Payne being presented with copies of resource materials for teaching the language in secondary schools by Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand

Guyana on Thursday launched its first secondary school Portuguese curriculum as part of the country’s push to deepen relations with neighbouring Brazil.

“While language will never stop Guyana from enjoying good relations with anyone, surely our familiarity with the language of the people of Brazil will help us to bolster that friendship,” said Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand

The language would be taught initially at five high schools until Guyana’s teacher’s college could begin training Portuguese teachers. Brazil has been already asked to train, exchange or provide Portuguese teachers. The schools are Queen’s College, Bishop’s High School, St. Joseph’s High School, St. Stanislaus College and St. Rose’s High School.

She also announced that her country has approached the Barbados-headquartered Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to offer region-wide school-leaving examinations in Portuguese in another three years.

Now that Guyana has developed its own curriculum and teaching guides, she expects the country to play a leading role in formulating a Portuguese syllabus, schemes and books for CXC. Playing pivotal roles in the development of the materials are Portuguese teachers Candida Williams, Dianne Blenman and Monica Payne.

The Barbados-headquartered CXC offers school-leaving ordinary and advanced level examinations which have largely replaced the United Kingdom’s General Certificate of Education (GCE) in almost all Caribbean countries.

Manickchand questioned the relevance of teaching Spanish and French in secondary schools compared to Portuguese given the increasing number of Brazilians coming to Guyana to live and work. “Even as we have had Spanish and French, we need to examine whether they are both still as relevant as they used to be…I’m not sure if French is as useful anymore as Spanish,” she said.

French is often a requirement for acquiring jobs at the United Nations (UN) and Spanish at the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Thousands of Brazilians mostly work directly and indirectly in Guyana’s mining industry.