A NEW TERM, year, and decade has dawned on the education landscape. Following the well-deserved Christmas break, students and teachers have headed back to school, hopefully ready and prepared to face the challenges and rigors that characterise our education system.
For SEA students, parents and teachers this term may be filled with anxiety as they enter the home stretch for the dreaded exercise.
The CSEC students and their teachers will also be hard pressed to have SBAs completed, marked and marks uploaded onto CXC’s Online Registration System before the deadline.
Schools and principals, in particular, will be eagerly anticipating the release of overdue operating funds to purchase consumables, minor equipment and undertake minor repairs.
Following much agitation by teachers that caused them to take to the streets to express their frustration and anger, the authorities have finally agreed to engage TTUTA in long overdue dialogue regarding salary negotiations for the period 2014 to 2017.
While this might be seen as a welcome development, there is no doubt that teachers are incensed and peeved that they had to resort to such drastic action to get the authorities to undertake their legal obligation. Such contempt and disrespect do not bode well for the health of the education sector as we look into the future.
What is even more disturbing is that this kind of contemptuous behaviour emanated from a government that boasts of two ministers having been trade union leaders in previous incarnations.
It is hoped that, finally, good sense will prevail in the coming year and TTUTA and both the Ministry of Education and the Chief Personnel Officer will be able to engage in regular and meaningful dialogue to treat with the myriad of issues plaguing the education system. TTUTA has and will continue to insist on the dialogue process to treat with issues, unafraid to resort to more drastic action when such efforts fail.
In the coming years TTUTA will continue to staunchly press the case for quality schools, quality tools and quality teachers in keeping with its mandate to promote the cause of education.
This agenda will undoubtedly result in standoffs and confrontation with the authorities if the relationship between union and government is not characterised by mutual respect and a genuine desire to improve the education system for the benefit of the citizenry.
Issues of health and safety will continue to be at the forefront on the agenda in the coming years since this has a very significant impact on the desire to deliver quality education.
The decade ahead, filled with all its glorious uncertainties, will continue to be revolutionised by the dramatically changing communication technology landscape. Kudos must be given to the ministry for the introduction of modern technologies to improve overall efficiency.
It is hoped that this trend not just continues but gains momentum, manifesting itself in every facet of the daily operations of the Ministry of Education. It is hoped that the decade ahead will certainly see a transformed ministry in terms of technological efficiency alongside concomitant improvements in physical plant and infrastructure.
Given the imminent technological advancements on the educational landscape, teachers are well advised to ensure that they are on the cutting edge of education theory and practice, engaging in behaviour that is without reproach.
Teacher professionalism will assume even greater significance in the coming decade, with teacher accountability and teacher responsibility being prominent features of the profession.
By whatever name the generation of the coming decade will be labelled, one fact remains certain – content knowledge will continue to give way to application, analysis and creativity as primary learning outcomes.
This learning paradigm requires teachers who adhere to the dictum of being self-directed life-long learners, engaging in practice that is characterised by constant reflection in meeting with a rapidly changing education landscape.
In the thrust to ensure that all children are able to realise their full human potential, assessments will take precedence over evaluations and high-stakes examinations. Schools will thus become true centres for the development of human capital and not agents of social stratification as exists in the current scenario.
While the new term and year are to be predictably seen from the perspective of challenges and even trepidation, it is hoped that the national community sees the coming decade from a perspective of hope and opportunity to truly transform our society in keeping with our 2030 vision. There is a lot to do to achieve this lofty but attainable vision, beginning with political will.