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Sunday 23 September 2018
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Commentary

Investing for Quality Education

TTUTA writes a weekly column for the Newsday called TTUTA on Tuesday.

As we settle into the Christmas vacation it is worth noting that in many of the nation’s schools there is dire need for repairs and renovation to be undertaken to ensure that they are safe, secure and conducive to good teaching and learning. In the past, the vacation repair programme would have been activated to take care of minor repairs and renovations as well as minor improvements during this period. To date a very limited number of schools have been reportedly selected for repairs.

Despite this fact, many school administrators acting on their own are engaged in a range of school improvements projects using resources mobilised through support from stakeholders. Had this not been the case, many more schools may have been forced to close their doors. To those corporate entities that consistently assist schools in one form or the other TTUTA would like to congratulate you on your generosity and urge that it continues into the coming year. Such support is indicative of the vision to invest in the future.

Unfortunately, the business sector can be quite selective in their support to schools. Some schools are able to solicit significant support from the business sector enabling them to enhance their learning environments through the introduction of modern communication technologies, ultra-modern sporting facilities or the enhancement of the physical plant. In other instances, schools are wholly dependent on the Ministry of Education for resources. In times of national prosperity this many not be problematic. Sadly, the last calendar year has seen a drastic shortfall in the provision of resources to schools by the Ministry of Education.

As a result, many schools are forced to improvise or resort to antiquated curriculum delivery approaches owing to equipment malfunction or depletion of basic resources such as paper or printer ink. The inadvertent removal of support staff in some instances further compounds the problem. In these trying economic times, the national community must engage in some introspection and contemplate upon the impact of these austere economic challenges on the education system and formulate creative solutions to ensure that quality education is not sacrificed on the altar of economic adjustments.

The provision of quality education cannot and should not be the sole responsibility of the state, but rather a partnership between the public and private sectors, since education is a public good. The investment in human capital development cannot be left up to the state alone. While the state must be the driving force providing strategic direction, other stakeholders must acknowledge their vested interests in the process. In harsh economic times business entities must be prepared to step-up and assume greater levels of social responsibilities. Quality schools will create quality citizens who are critical and innovative thinkers and problem-solvers with obvious benefits to the corporate sector.

The adoption of schools by some companies has gone a long way toward enhancing their capacity to deliver quality education. It’s a pity that more companies have not seen the wisdom of this approach to corporate social responsibility. It is hoped that in the coming year, as the financial austerities deepen their impact, more companies will recognise the wisdom of coming to the rescue of schools in their quest to deliver quality education. Quality education requires quality schools, tools and resources. This is expensive; being a public good means that essentially the taxpayer carries the tab. This approach to education financing can have many facets. These must be explored through national dialogue and discourse. The notion of free education must be understood in a particular context.

Teachers must also understand the central role they must play in this paradigm. Ours is a responsibility to ensure the involvement of other stakeholders in the delivery of quality education through accountability. Accountability in its many forms and layers is a hallmark of quality education. Stakeholder participation and involvement must be calculated and targeted by teachers if their efforts in the classroom are to be successful. Resource mobilisation for curriculum delivery is time consuming and requires extra effort but is an education imperative that is unavoidable. This in no way absolves the national purse from its responsibilities to ensure that quality education is a right enjoyed by every child.

As the year draws to a close, TTUTA extends season’s greetings to the national community and urges all to ensure that schools are given the requisite resources and support in the coming year and that all of the nation’s schools are open and in a position to deliver quality education.

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