Haynes: What comes after remedial classes?

Anita Haynes.
Anita Haynes.

Opposition MP for Tabaquite Anita Haynes has a number of questions about the Government and Ministry of Education’s remedial classes including what happens to the students after.

At a UNC press briefing on Sunday, Haynes asked how did the Government intended to monitor and evaluate its remedial lessons.

The classes are expected to begin Monday.

This comes after Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said 9,000 pupils were to take remedial classes in the July-August vacation before progressing to secondary school.

The lessons will take place at 26 secondary schools nationwide, from July 18-August 12, with pupils accommodated at a school nearest to their homes, with breakfast and lunch provided, a Newsday article said.

The 9,000 students scored under 50 per cent in the last Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) Exam but were placed in secondary schools.

Last Friday, the ministry said 2,700 students registered for remedial lessons and walk-in students would be accepted. The programme is projected to cost $10 million.

On Sunday, Haynes said monitoring and evaluation was absent from the Government. She said the UNC was not opposed, at all, to the students getting access to remedial work or to a programme that would allow them to get “up-to-scratch” to start secondary school in September.

But what it was opposed to, was any attempt at putting a “pretty face on a glaring problem.

“But what we have is no answers to the questions of, ‘What happens if you do not attend? Are you still going into the secondary school system having not attended the classes?’

“'Knowing that you have not made the grade to show the competence necessary for the secondary school exam? Have they considered how you are reaching out to those parents?’”

She said the ministry knew the students who did not get the grades and asked how it was ensuring that the students attended.

Haynes said one had to ask, given the numbers that signed up, if the remedial programme was going to meet its necessary aims.

She said the vacation is meant to do remedial work and target students who have not demonstrated the necessary competencies to attend secondary school in September.

She said, however, while she applauds the teachers who have volunteered their time and effort to facilitate these classes, the teachers were going into classes with students that they don’t know.

“They have no experience with these students. They don’t know what their capabilities are. They don’t know what they are missing. They don’t know where they may need the extra help.”

She asked if there was any space in which the standard five teachers of these students could send some report to the teachers outlining the student’s specific needs.

Many stakeholders did not believe they are going to see the desired result, she added.

She said the ministry did not say it would give extra training to teachers who volunteered their time in doing remedial classes.

“That would have been a step in the right direction. It would have showed that the ministry is thinking about what the programme is intended to do as opposed to just saying this is what we are doing,” she said.

In fact, the ministry did announce that teachers involved in the programme would receive training in line with its goals before the remedial classes began.

Haynes claimed no one was surprised by the SEA results and the Government failed on every occasion it was given, to put key interventions in place to mitigate what was seen.

“This new intervention with the absence of key targets and deliverables will leave us in a worse problem come September because people will feel as if the problem was solved and there was no actual solution.”

She asked if there was going to be a consistent and concerted effort toward the students’ development or if, after one month, that would be the end of it.

Haynes said, in the former junior secondary school system, there was a facility that allowed for remedial classes.

She asked if the ministry was going to be looking into what would be done after the one-month period.

She also asked how did the ministry plan to evaluate the programme.

“Is it at the end of one month there will be a test? Is it at the end of every week, we measure the progress of the student. Or is it that we are saying once they have completed one month of vacation classes, that we have done something and the students are now ready?

“Is there going to be any specific testing and measures in the first term of secondary school to see how students are coping,” she asked.

Haynes said it was not only an issue for individual students and parents but for the country.

“If we have thousands of students falling through the gaps in the system, extrapolate this; five, ten, 15 years down the line. We already have an unemployment problem and an underemployment problem,” she said.

She also spoke to school transportation and said it was something she had been raising.

She acknowledged that the ministry said students would go to classes closet to where they live but this did not work for everyone.

Haynes added that this school term was set to be the most expensive school term for parents given the rising cost of living.

She said if there was truly a whole-of-government approach, the ministry would have worked with the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services to cross-reference such things as people who applied for the salary relief grant which would give a picture of people who were employed during the pandemic.

The end goal should be that these students are given the best chance to succeed, Haynes said.

She added an all-of-government approach would be able to tell what was preventing children from attending the remedial classes.

She said TT would pay a high price for ignoring a fixable problem and a generation of people who “absolutely need our help.”


"Haynes: What comes after remedial classes?"

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