Constitutional & Legal Foundations
The mission of the Ministry of Education was to give all Guyanese children equal access to a quality education. The Minister of Education was a political appointee with a seat on the President's cabinet. In 1980, the educational system was decentralized somewhat when it was divided into 10 regions, each with its own council in charge of schools. Each region was headed by a Regional Democratic Council made up of members appointed by various political parties. The Regional Executive Officer was responsible for all the school services in the region, but a Regional Education Officer, appointed by the Ministry of Education, overseen day-to-day operations and prepared the education budget. By 1985, the 10 Regional Democratic Councils were in charge of constructing and maintaining schools, recruiting and paying teachers, and ensuring that schools operated according to regional and national objectives.
The University of Guyana, the country's only university, receives most of its funding from the Minister of Finance and is separate from the rest of the education system. The Guyana School of Agriculture was incorporated in 1962 and empowered to teach the theory and practice of agriculture and to manage, develop, and operate farms. It also conducted experiments and research. The Kuru-Kuru Co-operative College, founded in 1973, provides courses in cooperative education and management techniques. It also combines technical assistance to Guyana's neighboring countries with courses in business administration, cooperative socialism, and ideological teaching.
The country's educational system has four levels: nursery, primary, secondary, and postsecondary. The government, along with certain private groups, also provides education for the handicapped and mentally deficient and has training programs in several vocational fields, including home economics, automotive mechanics, and other technical fields. All instruction is in English, and the average student must complete the six-year Primary course and two years of secondary education. The statutory age for entering school is five years nine months, and students are usually expected to remain in the school system until age 16. Those who leave the school system early may participate in a number of adult education programs offered by the University of Guyana, the Institute of Adult and Continuing Education, or the Adult Education Association.