Hard work rewarded: Teacher of the Year, Maydha Persaud
Stabroek News
April 28, 2002

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Teacher of the Year 2001, Headmaster of Abram Zuil Secondary, Maydha Persaud, achieved his honour by always striving to give nothing less than a fair and honest day’s work through his 32 years of service to the teaching profession.

But Persaud is not only a teacher. He is also secretary of the Cullen Mandir; secretary of Food for the Poor Region Two; secretary for the Suddie Police Station Management Committee; secretary of the Perseverance Abram Zuil Policing Group; and a Justice of the Peace and a Commissioner of Oaths and Affidavits.

In a telephone interview, an “extremely happy” Persaud told Stabroek News that the award, a coveted $1 million prize put up by the Laparkan Group of Companies in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) represented the achievements of his school, staff, students, their parents and friends of the school who invested time, effort and resources in it. During the second quarter of 2001, he had been named Teacher of the Year for Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).

Thanking Laparkan for being so magnanimous in recognising the service of the nation’s teachers, he said, that the incentive scheme would motivate teachers and inspire them to give of their best and in some ways would help to reduce the exodus of teachers. Other companies, he feels, should emulate Laparkan.

Coming from humble beginnings, Persaud said that winning the inaugural award represented many things to him and he was overwhelmed when one of the judges informed him of their selection. At the time Persaud badly needed some money to help offset expenses for his daughter, a medical student in Cuba. The money will assist in helping her to complete her studies without fear of not having the support she requires from home.

Persaud, a trained teacher for the primary level at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) from 1974 to 1976 is not a graduate teacher. He said he could not afford the cost of maintaining his family and pursuing a degree at the University of Guyana so he read a lot and did research on his own to specialise in some of the subjects which he now teaches. “I had a lot of hands-on/on-the-spot training,” he said.


Maydha Persaud

He spent six years at Fisher Primary at Golden Fleece, Essequibo Coast where he taught the Common Entrance class and was `redeployed’ to Abram Zuil Secondary in 1981 to teach Mathematics. On graduating from CPCE he had copped the award for being the Best Graduating Mathematics Student. For the past 21 years his life and work was completely tied up with the school. He was appointed a Senior Master in 1987; a deputy headmaster in 1990; a Grade `B’ headmaster in 1996; and was appointed a Grade `A’ headmaster when the school was made a Grade `A’ school in 1996. He acted as headmaster of the school from 1992 to 1996 before he was actually appointed. He had to accumulate experience on the job because he had not the university qualifications required to allow for his appointment to the post on a substantive basis.

He recalled that when he joined the staff, the school had 141 students on roll, it now has 626; it had ten teachers and now has a staff of 40. From not offering any specific streams the school now has ten established departments and six streams.

Initially it offered five subjects at CSEC, but now offers 20 academic and technical subjects at CSEC. A laboratory, a home economics centre and four tents (benabs) used as classroom were all built by aided self-help during his tenure. Last year the PTA year fenced the entire school compound. Parents also bought a photocopier for the school last year. The school rears goats, chicken and tilapia in a fishpond and has a productive cash crop plot.

Persaud credited the all-round development of the school to support from the staff and an active parent teachers’ association which emphasises strict accountability and using the `whole school (management) approach. Staff are involved in planning, decision making and execution of the plan, and evaluation. His wife and children, he felt, played their part by being understanding and to them all he was thankful.

With regard to discipline, he said that teachers would talk to students and discuss with their parents, matters they felt they ought to be aware of. They even pay home visits in extreme cases. The school has regular open days, an active student council and prefect system. Not a believer in corporal punishment, Persaud believes that the school’s administration and staff should work as one. A firm polite word will get good results, he said.

At Abram Zuil, it’s not all work and no play. Students’ extra curricular activities have paid off in many competitions. The school won two national secondary schools drama competitions and represented Guyana at the regional level on two occasions, both in Guyana and Jamaica where it put out creditable performances. It has won prizes in essay, poetry, art and in other competitions at the national, regional and international levels.

Asked about retirement Persaud, a devout Hindu said he thanked God “for giving me the health, knowledge and love for the job,” He said he was not thinking about it just yet, but is due to retire in five years time. (Miranda La Rose)