TABAQUITE MP Anita Haynes says a clear lack of policy directives in the education sector is a consequence of government’s disconnection of the lived reality of parents and children.
Speaking at the UNC’s weekly media briefing on Sunday, she said there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the reopening of schools for the September term.
“We should have wanted to create a more resilient generation of young people. There is a disregard for the mental health of students, parents, and teachers, because we are already facing uncertainty in terms of the pandemic and then you are uncertain about whether you are going back to school and what that means in terms of vaccinations and what it means for parents and care giving during the day. We are in a very difficult space.”
Haynes said there is a lack of data and consultation driving the ministry’s policies and directives. She said if it had been guided by data, the laptop programme would not have been shut down, as the ministry would have known that the students would need devices and connectivity.
“The ministry has been promising MiFi devices since last year but these have not yet arrived. We have been in the pandemic for almost two years now and the expectation is that the ministry will have looked at the problems which have occurred and put measures in place to fix them. There is a lack of planning and consultation, and a disrespect for all involved.”
She said every year schools cannot be opened due to a lack of physical infrastructure but now the ministry wants to have a hybrid system.
“Schools are physically not equipped to broadcast classes. If the ministry had done consultations, they would have known that you cannot take a curriculum designed for in-person teaching and put it online, it would need to be specifically designed for online. Some children who were doing well before are now being held back because they could not make the attendance.”
Haynes called on government to hold consultations, take a collaborative approach, and put forward an honest evaluation of what has been done thus far.