Minority Assemblyman Minority Council is calling for a mandatory Tobago-centric subject to be added to the syllabus at all schools on the island.
Speaking at Tuesday’s weekly briefing of the Minority Council at James Park, Scarborough, Augustine, Representative for Parlatuvier/ L’Anse Fourmi/ Speyside, said schoolchildren must be provided with information about the island.
He noted that the Order Paper for this month’s sitting of the Assembly, has listed on it a Minority’s motion that seeks to have the house mandate the Division of Education to construct an appropriately named subject with varying levels to specifically incorporate the Tobago environment, history, heritage, culture and governance.
Augustine said that beginning in the 2019/ 2020 academic year, this subject should become mandatory for all Tobago students enrolled at Government and Government-assisted schools, from nursery school to lower secondary, and be taught using a combination of modern teaching techniques, the arts and field trips.
“We have seen around the Commonwealth where there are similar structures with the evolution of powers where this exists. We are saying that our young are not as knowledgeable about Tobago’s history and the environment and culture as they should be and one of the ways to fix that is to do more than just have a heritage festival annually, whereby people put on productions.
“The best way to do that is to actually teach it to our pupils. One of the best ways for us to do it is to make an injection into the curriculum, which we are allowed to do, given the THA Act,” he said.
Augustine maintained that Tobago students were unaware of Tobago’s rich heritage.
“We cannot blame the average young person that we meet on the streets who is just simply unaware of things Tobago. If tourism is our main product, every single citizen of this island should be equipped with sufficient information on Tobago and therefore we must give them an opportunity,” he said.
He said one of the ways of enforcing this was simply by insisting on it being timetabled and that a teacher be assigned to that subject area.
“Of course, students will receive their end of test on it every term and it is only up until Third Form. The reality is that teachers in Tobago can use the examples of Tobago for other subject areas and that too is expressed in the motion, but what you have found is that teachers are not using the Tobago examples.
“What this does is that it forces our teachers, especially those within the Social Sciences realm to provide to our students much needed information about their island,” he said.