How COVID-19 has Reshaped Education in Guyana’s Hinterland

It’s Monday morning at the indigenous village of Aishalton, in Guyana’s Deep South Rupununi region.   39-year-old Immaculata Casimero proudly dons a shawl that identifies her Wapichan heritage. 

She’s in a rush, but makes sure to pull her mask across her face ahead of the  15 minute trek across the savannah to her daughter Kiarra’s primary school. COVID-19 has changed just about everything in her village, including her daughter’s education.  Pandemic lockdowns forced an end to normal classes. Students now work from home with parents filling the roles of teachers as best they can. Immaculata describes how, on selected days  of each week, she visits her daughter’s class teacher for guidance on four core subjects: English, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science.  “Parents have to work with their children at home and try to see how best they can educate their children,” she noted.  

She said the situation requires the parent to refresh their own knowledge of the subjects.  First, the teacher guides and instructs the parent through the entire lesson.

In Guyana’s Indigenous Villages, Coronavirus Has Become The Silent Killer

Charity On The Pomeroon, Guyana

The lonesome death of Virgil Ferreira occurred on September 29, 2020, not long after the 64-year-old diabetic began experiencing shortness of breath, a persistent cough and loss of taste and smell, all symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. After Ferreira fell ill, he was taken to the health center in Baramita, a village in the dense Guyanese jungle. Within days, Ferreira’s condition worsened. Health authorities transferred him to the nearest regional hospital in Port Kaituma, where he died two weeks later. 

 Ferreira left behind a wife and several school-aged children as well as 9 elder children from previous unions. Virgil Ferreira was a well known champion of indigenous peoples rights , a career he dedicated most of his life to.