THE SANATAN Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) has written to the Education Ministry offering suggestions for the education sector during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and Minister in the Ministry Lisa Morris-Julian, the SDMS’ attorney Dinesh Rambally said the association had an abiding interest in the development and delivery of effective education in TT.
He raised certain issues affecting the education system, and offered the SDMS’ assistance in working towards “an enlightened approach” for the sector during covid19.
Among the Maha Sabha’s suggestions were: a needs assessment exercise to get a true snapshot of the difficulties on the ground for everyone in education and the technological and economic challenges they are facing; a more relevant mandate to the national advisory committee; a better system of distributing school meals – suggesting food cards – age-appropriate curricula; clearly policies on parents’ role in online learning; consultations with principals to address the pressure and real-time demands on them and a well thought-out legally defensible code of discipline for the new e-learning environment.
“In light of the pandemic, the SDMS is aware that it cannot be business as usual and that the mandate for the Minister of Education still bears utmost relevance as your ministry must now devise a system of education appropriate to our circumstances,” Rambally said.
“If one were to create a snapshot of the system of education as it is in real time, it would appear to be in a chaotic one. It is the view of the SDMS, based on the feedback received, that principals, teachers, students and parents are hardpressed to deal with some of the necessary challenges that have arisen, but are aggrieved about the many unnecessary challenges that are being imposed upon them by the Ministry of Education,” he added.
Rambally said it was not too late to provide students, especially in rural areas in less affluent circumstances, with laptop computers and devices.
“While the goodwill of corporate Trinidad and Tobago may have eased the burden on some students and schools, the question remains as to how to prioritise the needy amongst us. There is a global shortage of devices and this means that not all students would be able to access devices nor start classes simultaneously.”
He also said the e-learning experience was predicated on a stable internet connection, and the SDMS suggested the establishment of a centralised troubleshooting and technical support centre, with a hotline, to deal with issues affecting students and teachers.
Rambally also said the two-week teacher training exercise was insufficient. He also suggested textbooks be available on subscription for the e-learning environment.
The SDMS also noted that of concern to it was that no teacher who assisted with the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) preparations has received remuneration yet, and that unrealistic instructions were given to teachers and principals as it related to the provision of attendance records.