THE Education Ministry is taking umbrage to several claims made by former education minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh, who the ministry says, is trying to remain relevant and politically alive.
The ministry in a release sent by its senior communications officer Vishham Ramsaywack claimed that Minister Anthony Garcia was accused of abandoning the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam.
A factor Gopeesingh claimed, affected the performance of students in this year's SEA examination. On the contrary, the release said, analysis shows that students performed better this year especially in Mathematics and Creative Writing. Garcia wished to remind the population, the release said, that CAC was abandoned following three public consultations and a two-week online campaign where members of the public and education stakeholders unanimously agreed that the CAC did not indicate any major improvement in the academic performance of students.
These stakeholders included the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) and the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA),
Under Gopeesingh’s tenure, the release said, the number of students who scored under 30 percent remained at an average 2,500. Yet no direct interventions were initiated to address the specific needs of these students.
The CAC formula was structured in such a way as to award marks to students to ensure they did not fall below the 30 percent bracket. Thus realistically, it did not specifically help students who are weak in the areas of Mathematics, English Language Arts and Creative Writing. The analysis also highlighted several flaws in the administering and marking of the CAC Examination under Gopeesingh’s leadership.
Over the last two years, the Ministry has ensured that the necessary Curriculum support is being provided to meet specific needs of these students from as early as Infant Year One. Other successful initiatives are the Form One Initiative, Penmanship with a Purpose and Clinical Supervision.
Garcia also dismissed Gopeesingh’s claim that he established 400 After School Home Work Centres. There is no record at the ministry to validate this claim. He also makes it abundantly clear that the Ministry of Education never dismissed any staff from the Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Student Support Services Divisions.
Actually, the Ministry of Education earlier this year renewed the contracts of over 100 ICT Technicians while over 250 Guidance Counselors and Schools Social Workers are currently signing news contracts, while interviews continue to employ more professionals to staff this Division to better serve students.