Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles on Tuesday called on Tobago teachers to be accountable for ensuring a quality education for students.
Charles, who is also Secretary for Education, also said the role stakeholders in Tobago’s development was critical as education was part of the mechanism to move the island forward, and standards must be lifted as high as possible.
“The time has some when we need to elevate the issue of accountability in our education system. Is sufficient attention being paid by those of us who have the authority to lead and manage our schools to the net improvements in overall performance in our students? Those of us who have an interest, are we satisfied that our practitioners in the system are sufficiently accountable…?
“From since I was in the teaching service, I felt that as a practitioner we never took responsibility, it was always the Ministry, and of course with the intervention of the Division of Education, Innovation and Energy… it is now the Division, or it is the politician, or it is the system.
“The role of the practitioner is critical… it is the axis around which the quality of our education processes will evolve or revolve,” he said.
Charles was speaking at the Tobago segment of the National Consultation on the Draft Education Policy Paper titled, “A Look into the Future,” at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough.
He also called on education stakeholders to ensure they gave their views for consideration in the draft education policy.
“Part of our social responsibility is to speak out and provide suggestions to guide education policies to influence change and to generate improvements. In fact, you are all stakeholders in the business of education and it is your interest to protect your business. An important element of stakeholder responsibility must be therefore to provide key inputs into this business of education. We value your inputs, we urge you to provide them,” he said.
“… your ideas, comments and suggestions are invaluable as stakeholders because you affect and are affected by the policies that we eventually design and develop,” he added.
Charles also suggested that one stakeholder group, Parent Teacher’s Associations (PTA), do not effectively articulate concerns with the quality of education being received by students.
“I sometimes feel that stakeholder voices on educational issues are too muted and that we only highlight some of the issues that we think reside at the level of the Education Division or for that matter, the Ministry of Education.
“Are school PTA’s collusively loud and sufficiently articulate in demonstrating concerns in respect of the expected standards of students’ performances. Do we really heed our PTAs voicing concern about the performance of our students, because you would agree with me that parents are an integral part of the education process, the quality of our students represents in part one aspect of the output of our systems?
“Indeed, if we do not ensure that there is that level of interest, then as parents we have work to do,” he said.