UNITED National Congress senator Anita Haynes believes the remedial vacation classes for the 9,000 students who scored under 50 per cent will not work if Education Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly refuses to see the faults in the existing education policies.
At the UNC’s weekly media press briefing on Sunday at the Office of the Opposition, Charles Street Port of Spain, Haynes lamented this year’s poor SEA overall performance among over 12,000 students.
Haynes believes regular assessments, stable virtual platforms, the availability of learning devices for all, and a focus on psychological health coupled with specially tailored programmes for children who are behind what is needed.
In a press conference last Friday after the release of 2022 SEA results, Gadsby-Dolly said 37.06 per cent scored over 50 per cent – a noticeable decline from 63 per cent in 2020 and 52.49 per cent in 2021.
She said 52.6 per cent of the children that scored below 50 per cent were placed. She also shared that 27.81 per cent of these students scored 30 per cent and under. And 17.7 per cent of them were too old to sit over and were placed nonetheless.
Even the number of high-scoring pupils exceeding a 90 per cent score had fallen from three per cent last year to 0.47 per cent this year, she said. She said face-to-face learning may be the major factor in this achievement issue.
But Haynes believes the system was never structured to meet the needs and demands of students, especially during covid19.
She accused the government of removing supporting structures to deal with mental health and school violence and failing to push technology in school and enhance its online platforms to help with distance learning.
“They couldn’t see the importance of continuous assessment inequitable education spaces, they couldn’t see that these things were working before this government taking office in 2015 where we were seeing record levels of achievements.
"If you cannot admit knowing that you are deliberately dismantling structures that were working just out of pure petty politics. That you cannot admit that they were working before and you will not reinstate at least the ones that prove to work, then you are saying to the nation that you absolutely do not care about the children.”
“If we take this trend going on from now, five years, ten years down the line, we are not looking at a society that is thriving, we will be barely hanging on to survival.”
She said many children who were underperforming academically felt left out of the system and had fallen into delinquency.
And if the ministry sees no need for an urgent reform, Hayes said, the system will continue plummeting post covid19.
“This means that the government policy, PNM policy has created a generation that is not acquiring the skill sets that they need to go out into the world. And we are also met with an absence of any type of solution.”
Haynes also disagrees with the ministry’s move to do away with the naming of top SEA students. She thinks the programme can be revised and such a move now raises issues of transparency.