THE EDITOR: Open letter to Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.
The current education system is a very serious issue that requires urgent attention as it is having a detrimental effect on our children.
In my opinion, SEA and CXC exams should be something of the past. These exams produce great anxiety for our children, parents, and even grandparents. By changing the system we can prevent a lot of the adverse effects children suffer, and by extension their families.
Children who do not pass for prestige schools after writing the SEA exam may feel like failures and possibly consider a life of crime or become prone to depression.
We seem to be copying the wrong things from the US and Canada. However, our children should be promoted from primary to secondary school, then to university through a credit system as employed by the countries we strive to emulate.
The Government ought to be working towards the removal of the SEA and CXC examinations by 2023, giving itself a three-year transition period. Also, to ensure that all secondary schools evolve to prestige schools, we should examine what makes a school prestige and try to use that formula in all schools.
In my view, prestige schools, which are generally managed by religious bodies, maintain an outstanding level of discipline and expose their students to a more holistic curriculum that produces exemplary grades and young people of sterling character.
Late prime minister Dr Eric Williams, in his independence address to the nation in 1962, stated that “…the future of our children lies in their school bags.” This was relevant then, but we must evolve and adapt to the constant changes and modernise our education system.
If we did not learn anything else from covid19, we know without a doubt that the future of our children lies with technology. We should take this opportunity to make technological studies a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
This subject can be used as a diversification tool to encourage citizens to engage in trades in the technology industry. Our children can become creators and by extension leaders, which will in turn produce a direct stream of foreign exchange to address the shortage in the economy.
The time has come for TT to stop being followers and start to be innovators and inventors. We can use India as an example, as it has been receiving approximately 47 per cent of its annual income from its technology industry.
As a senior business citizen with over 60 years experience, I urge you, Madam Minister, to use your good office to propose to Cabinet that consideration be given to shifting some of funds from non-urgent capital projects to provide laptops and tablets to every school child in the country.
I am quite aware of the shortfalls within the economy, but the abrupt manner in which the Government reduced the assistance to our nationals engaged in tertiary education by 75 per cent has now put those students in a predicament. How will they now be able to continue their education?
May I suggest that consideration be given to phasing out this system in a manner that would be better and more beneficial to both the students and the Government?
I also remind you that education is an investment and the benefits will be realised through our children and the future generations to come.
In addition to the above, I recommend that every school sets up a board of directors chosen from the community and the PTA as the future of this nation will be based on the holistic development of our children and this must be everybody’s business and everyone needs be on board.
Academic excellence should not be the most important aspect of a child’s future but we should now transform our education system to implement a holistic strategy that includes involvement in community work, sports and even cultural activities which will generate a more respectable and productive generation.
I stand ready to offer any assistance on this matter since I consider it to be my patriotic duty.