Jul 31, 2018

Pueblo Science Workshop Report (Guyana) 2018

Pueblo Science RISE Workshop Report 

   July 11-13, 2018   St. Stanislaus College


The Ministry of Education’s Strategic Plan (2014-2018) focuses on Science, Technology,
Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as a critical tool for national sustainable development.
Part of this focus includes finding effective, cost-effective, and fun ways to deliver STEM
education. These efforts are geared towards building scientific literacy at an early age. This is
the third Pueblo Science workshop held in Guyana. It was hosted in collaboration with the St.
Stanislaus College Board of Governors and its Toronto Alumni Association. The workshop
focused on experiential learning with locally-available and low-cost materials. More teachers
from the hinterland (Region 7–9) schools were included in this workshop than in previous years.
These teachers are challenged with sourcing materials for practical work. It is hoped that the
experiments conducted would aid in ways of thinking on how to use available, low-cost
materials inside and outside a science laboratory to do practical work.
Through these experiments, participants learned how to teach concepts in chemistry and
physics. The use of cardboard, marbles, fruits and other available consumables to teach
hands-on science provided them with a new approach in the process of learning this subject. In
particular, the simulation of the Gold Foil experiment was done by teachers for the first time.
This experiment used marbles, locally-made meter rulers and masking tape. This activity was
designed to demonstrate how an experiment can provide information about something that
cannot be seen.(1)
Facilitated by the the expertise of Pueblo Science instructors, this collaboration between the
Science Unit, NCERD, Ministry of Education and St. Stanislaus College provided learning
opportunities for fun and hands-on activities. The integration of science through design thinking
was also demonstrated in most of the activities. A total of 85 participants were trained this year.
Teachers from Regions 7 and 8 participated for the first time. Teachers from St. Ignatius
Secondary participated for the second time. This workshop included the District Education
Officer – Region 9.


The Pueblo Science team identified specific areas of the curriculum and linked the identified
experiments to these areas. This was proven to further enhance the learning of the participants
for immediate application in the classroom. While work was conducted in small groups at
various stations, some sessions engaged the entire group of participants. For example, work on
polymers, robotics, engineering design challenges, ice cream making and magic tricks engaged
all of the participants. In some activities the science was intentionally hidden and participants
had to explain their observations before the facilitators provided guidance. This created an
atmosphere of fun learning while simultaneously engaging participants in understanding
concepts. The Pueblo Science team—comprised of professional scientists, engineers and
1 Pueblo Science Manual, 2018 p. 20
educators—provided the appropriate, deep yet multi-faceted expertise that is required to teach a
multi-disciplinary topic such as robotics.
A total of four stations were set up for this workshop. Each station actively engaged the
participants in a blend of theory and practical work. The strategies used revealed how science
could be taught using the scientific method. The 5 E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and
Evaluate) instructional model was used which also mirrors the scientific method. This approach
is not usually practiced in the delivery of the science curriculum in schools. In addition, the low
cost of materials for conducting science experiments added much value to this workshop. The
materials were shared with several schools after the conclusion of the workshop so that
teachers can put into practice what they learned in their classrooms.
Station 1 was set up for Chemistry and facilitated by Prof. Scott Browning. At this station, the
microscience chemistry kit was used as part of the activities to conduct the electrolysis of water.
Food batteries were used to show how electrochemical cells work. Prof. Scott encouraged
participants to A.S.K. – “Ac​ quire S​exy K​nowledge”. Station 2 was set up for Physics and
facilitated by Dr. Stanley Wong. Station 3 was set up for Light experiments and was facilitated
by Dr. Mayrose Salvador. Station 4 was the robotics station which was set up for the students.
The facilitators for Station 4 were Dr. Martin Labrecque and Mr. Fuhad Rahman. In addition to
the robotics sessions, the students also worked at Station 1 to conduct electrochemistry


The late approval of the Pueblo workshop proposal led to challenges in implementation of the
workshop. Negotiations were made for materials to be supplied in advance of payment. The
National Science Coordinator lost facilitation time since meetings and close follow-up with the
Chief Accountant and other administrative staff had to be conducted to facilitate the payment of
the Guyana teachers’ travel on time.
Most of the teachers that were invited from Georgetown were engaged in marking of the
National Grade Nine Examinations and could not attend the Pueblo workshop.

Recommendations and Areas for Improvement

Through interactions with participants, recommendations were made to host the Pueblo
workshop in various regions including the hinterland regions for students and teachers. Planning
for this will need to be done in advance to facilitate all logistical arrangements and timely
release of finances and other critical resources.
A follow up evaluation should be completed by the middle of the upcoming academic year to
determine the level of implementation of the 2018 Pueblo Manual for schools especially in the
hinterland regions.
For sustainability of the program, local volunteer scientists and engineers from for example
University of Guyana can be involved during the workshops. They can be trained by the Pueblo
instructors to help Pueblo Science instructors facilitate the workshops and perhaps later on
deliver their own workshop using Pueblo Science activities.
More significant financial support would be necessary for Pueblo Science to continue providing
workshops in a sustainable manner.

Feedback from Pueblo Science Instructors

The instructors were very happy with the experience and would gladly go back to Guyana again.
Everyone’s highlight was meeting so many dedicated teachers, education professionals and
other individuals who are passionate about improving the education of their students and the
future of Guyana. Our instructors are also very grateful for the cultural presentation of the
teachers during the closing ceremony.
The event was well-organized and the instructors were very thankful that most of the materials
needed for the workshop were already there, sorted nicely in boxes prior to the workshop.
The instructors appreciate the fact that volunteers to help facilitate the workshop were provided.
They recommended that a list of tasks for local volunteers who will help facilitate the workshop
should be created and then communicated to the volunteers before the instructor arrive in
Guyana. Meeting with the volunteers one day before the start of the workshop to discuss the
tasks would be helpful.
The computer room at St. Stanislaus College where the robotics class was held for the student
was not available for the instructors to install needed software prior to the workshop, it was also
opened late on some days. As a result, precious time for teaching was lost.

Feedback from Participants

Sticky notes were used at each station to collect feedback from participants after completing
their stations. These are compiled in Appendix 2​. In summary the participants found the
workshop to be interactive and engaging. Concepts were presented simply through the selected
experiments. The competence and motivation of the facilitators stood out in the delivery of the

Feedback from STEM Club Assistants

The robotics station – Nicholas Elliot
The robotics station had a turnout of twenty-five (25) students. Over the course of the three
days, students were challenged to build a sturdy robot with wheels. They were also tasked with
orienting sensors in appropriate positions which will help the robot see straight ahead by
detecting colours as well as placing sensors to detect the robot’s lateral proximity to objects.
Upon completion of the construction phase, students were introduced to the basic principles of
programming. The participants were thereafter expected to use this knowledge to create a
program that would allow the robot to traverse a specific path by choosing which colours to
follow. The program should also allow the robot to make sounds as it passed nearby objects.
All students were able to successfully complete the tasks expected of them by the end of the
second day and in light of this, Dr. Martin announced that he will be giving a prize to the group
with the best robot; the parameters being the robot’s ability to traverse a prescribed route, the
robot’s ability to collect a few batteries taped together at the end of the road and its ability to
return home with the load while making sounds as it approximated buildings. As a result, the
morning session of the third day was used to refine the physical and software designs, thereby
allowing their robot to be more efficient and swift in completing the challenge.
All groups managed to design the software and one group was even able to complete the entire
challenge while the others faced difficulty with coming up with a physical design to
accommodate fetching.

Overall, students were successful, engaged and felt motivated by the experience to the point
where they lost track of snack and lunch time. The variety in cultures, experiences and ways of
thinking resulted in a wealth of creative ideas and opinions being brought to the design board,
and in many proposed solutions for the problems they faced during each stage of the process.

Physics station – Masud Lewis
The dedication and ability of Dr. Stanley Wong to fully immerse himself in what he did
demonstrated his joy for his work which was felt by the participants. His competence and ability
to remove any potential barriers of learning created an atmosphere that was highly interactive.
He connected with everyone he taught.
(1) Pueblo Science Manual, 2018 p. 20

Jul 17, 2018

Whither goest the Rule of Law in Guyana?

Whither goest the Rule of Law in Guyana, South America, from the Declaration of Delhi?

Whither goest Thou, Rule of Law, in Guyana, South America, from the Declaration of Delhi?

Further to the observations made in the author’s earlier article ‘How Independent is the Judiciary of Guyana, South America?

 (published on LinkedIn on 3 July 2018)

 the procedural aspects of the principles of the Rule of Law, Separation of Powers and Independence of the Judiciary set out in the Declaration of Delhi, will be considered in relation to the appointment of the Chancellor of the Judiciary and the Chief Justice of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

The Rule of Law

The Declaration of Delhi (1959) issued by the International Commission of Jurists, identified that a constitution observing the Rule of Law would show certain characteristics, including that of an independent Judiciary. Joseph Raz (1977) also argued that an independent Judiciary should be guaranteed.
 Can ‘Acting’ justices in Guyana comprise a fully ‘independent Judiciary’?
 The Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, which is the supreme law of the state, provides for independence of the Judiciary. Article 122A(1) provides as follows:-
“(1) All courts and all persons presiding over the courts shall exercise their functions independently of the control and direction of any other person or authority; and shall be free and independent from political, executive and any other form of direction and control.” 
This stated independence can, however, be affected to some extent, by the selection procedure for the two most senior members of the Judiciary, the Chancellor of the Judiciary and the Chief Justice. The selection of these justices depends on agreement between the President and the Leader of the Opposition.
The Chancellor and Chief Justice are appointed by the President (Art. 127(1)
The Chancellor and the Chief Justice, are appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition. Article 127 of the Guyana Constitution provides as follows:-
“(1) The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.” 
The Declaration of Delhi refers to the principle of irremovability of the Judiciary, and their security of tenure as an important safeguard of the Rule of Law.
“The principle of irremovability of the Judiciary, and their security of tenure until death or until a retiring age fixed by statute is reached, is an important safeguard of the Rule of Law. Although it is not impossible for a judge appointed for a fixed term to assert his independence, particularly if he is seeking re-appointment, he is subject to greater difficulties and pressure than a judge who enjoys security of tenure for his working life.” (Declaration of Delhi, p. 12) 
The principle of irremovability of the Judiciary and their security of tenure in Guyana has been seriously affected, as successive Presidents and Leaders of the Opposition have failed to reach agreement on the appointments of Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice over the last 13 years. There have been no appointments to the substantive posts of Chancellor and Chief Justice since 2005, when the former Chancellor, Honourable Madam Justice Desiree Bernard demitted office on her appointment as a Justice of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
 ‘Acting’ Chancellors and ‘Acting’ Chief Justices in Guyana since 2005
Honourable Mr Justice Carl Singh, who held the substantive office of Chief Justice, was appointed as ‘Acting’ Chancellor in 2005. No agreement was reached between the then President and the Leader of the Opposition, on his substantive appointment as Chancellor. Justice Singh continued in office as ‘Acting’ Chancellor until his retirement in 2017.
When Honourable Mr Justice Carl Singh was appointed as ‘Acting’ Chancellor, Honourable Mr Justice Ian Chang commenced 'Acting' as Chief Justice and continued in that office until his retirement in 2015. No agreement was reached by the politicians on his substantive appointment.
Honourable Madam Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards was appointed to sit as ‘Acting’ Chief Justice when Honourable Mr Justice Ian Chang retired in 2015. No agreement was reached by the politicians on her substantive appointment.
She continued in that post until she was appointed as ‘Acting’ Chancellor of the Judiciary in March 2017.
Honourable Madam Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire was appointed to sit as ‘Acting’ Chief Justice in March 2017.
Most recently, it has been reported that the President’s nominees for the substantive offices of Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice have not been agreed by the Leader of the Opposition. 
The 13-year impasse continues. 
 Honourable Justices of the CCJ have criticized the failures to reach agreements 
Two members of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) have rebuked Guyana for placing pressure on the independence of senior members of the Judiciary by having them sit for several years in offices in which there is no security of tenure. Honourable Justices Sir Dennis Byron and Adrian Saunders have criticized the trend over the last 13 years whereby members of the Judiciary have not been substantively appointed, but have sat as ‘Acting’ justices for several years on what has been described as ‘probation’.
Sir Dennis Byron delivered an address to the Guyana Bar Association in November 2017, whilst he was President of the CCJ, in which he stated as follows:-
“This has brought us to the situation today where the number one and number two officials of the Guyana judiciary have not been substantively appointed. This is a most unfortunate state of affairs… This situation has moved well beyond what ought to be acceptable in a modern democracy where respect for the rule of law is maintained. The Constitution envisages the judiciary of Guyana to be headed by officials who are substantively appointed and enjoy all the legal and institutional mechanisms to secure their tenure … 
The delay in complying with section 127(1) of the Constitution has long (breached) a level of justifiability and the most appropriate authority for resolving this situation is the court system. 
Section 127(1) ascribes an obligation to the President and the Leader of the Opposition that is mandatory in nature and not discretionary (to appoint the Chancellor and Chief Justice). 
Any failure in fulfilling this obligation must, therefore, be regarded as a breach of the Constitution.” (Sir Dennis Byron, Guyana Times, November 15, 2017) 
Honourable Mr Justice Adrian Saunders, who was sworn in as President of the CCJ on 4 July 2018, made a speech on 24 May 2018 in Guyana, in which he drew attention to Sir Dennis Byron's criticisms :-
“The ability of the judiciary to resolve matters must be a critical dimension of the rule of law. In this regard, I have to say a significant stain on the rule of law so far is Guyana’s inability over the last 13 years to appoint a substantive office holder to the position of Chancellor…There really can be no excuse for that kind of situation … 
… the rule of law has become an independent constitutional value which is at a very high level. It is almost in the same stratosphere as the separation of powers and we know that courts have not been shy to give relief to litigants on the basis that separation of powers has been breached …” (Mr Justice Adrian Saunders, Stabroek News, May 26, 2018). 
An Independent Selection Commission is suggested by way of reform of the process of selection of Chancellor and Chief Justice of The Cooperative Republic of Guyana
The current constitutional processes of selection have been ineffectual. A 13-year period of ‘Acting’ Chancellors and Chief Justices is wholly unacceptable in a democratic society, which seeks to uphold the principles of Rule of Law, Separation of Powers and Independence of the Judiciary.
Constitutional reform in Guyana has been long overdue and is now urgent and imperative. A revised process of selection of Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice is recommended here. This new process of selection should be independent and transparent. The Constitution of The Cooperative Republic of Guyana should be amended to provide for selection of candidates by an Independent Selection Commission. 
Colin Bobb-Semple, LL.B (Hons.) (London); LL.M (London); M.A. (Brunel); Lecturer in Law; Non-practising Solicitor/Higher Court Advocate (England and Wales)/ Attorney-at-law (Guyana)/ Barrister and Solicitor (St. Christopher and Nevis, Eastern Caribbean)
Bobb-Semple, C. How Independent is the judiciary of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, South America? (LinkedIn July 3, 2018)
 Joseph Raz, The Rule of Law and its Virtue (1977) 93 Law Quarterly Review 195
 Website references
Guyana Times press Report: CCJ President slams delay to confirm acting Chancellor, Chief Justice, November 15, 2017
 International Commission of Jurists: The Rule of Law in a Free Society, Declaration of Delhi (1959)
Stabroek News press Report: Ongoing lack of substantive Chancellor, CJ ‘significant stain’ on rule of law, May 26, 2018