MINISTER of Finance Colm Imbert announced that $50 million each will be spent on expanding the GATE programme and a structured remedial education programme to help students affected by the covid19 pandemic.
Education and training was allocated $7.453 billion in the 2023 budget presentation on Monday, compared to $6.886 billion in 2022.
Imbert said, “As announced by the Honourable Prime Minister we are introducing a structured remedial education programme to assist those students who are fallen behind because of covid19 to recover and catch up with their learning.
“An allocation of $50 million for this purpose has been made in this budget.”
President of the National Parent-Teacher Association Kevin David, reacting to Imbert’s announcement, said he wants education programmes to benefit future generations.
David said, “At this point in time our concerns really lie with not just proper allocations for the ministry itself…(but) the implementation of programmes that will be strategic in terms of assisting and providing that sustainable support for the educational system.”
Imbert said the performance of students who sat the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam this year was troubling.
“We were clearly concerned with the performance of our students in the 2022 Secondary Entrance Assessment examination…the covid19 pandemic had confined them to online classes and their performance in SEA reflected this absence from the classroom.”
Imbert said less students scored above 50 per cent in 2022 compared to previous years. Only 37.1 per cent of students scored more than 50 per cent in 2022, compared to 52.5 per cent in 2021 and 63 per cent in 2020.
Imbert said improving the education level of students has been a priority.
He said $10 million was spent on a vacation revision programme during the July/August holidays this year at 26 Secondary schools for “learning lost in the short term.”
A Lower Secondary School Proficiency Examination will be introduced to ensure students have the basic knowledge to continue their education in Secondary school.
Speaking about the expansion of the GATE programme, Imbert said, “After careful consideration we have decided to adjust the criteria for accessing GATE to permit students in good standing enrolled in institutions and programmes accredited by the Accreditation Council of TT to qualify for GATE if they have completed an initial programme of study such as a diploma or associate degree or the N1 level at UWI and wish to upgrade to a bachelor’s degree.”
Imbert said students pursuing Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), who have already accessed GATE for lower level TVET qualifications, will now qualify for GATE for level four and level five programmes that lead to an advanced diploma or bachelor’s degree.
“We are ensuring that GATE remains as inclusive and all encompassing as it was originally designed within the constraints of expenditure,” Imbert said.
This will cost the Government an additional $50 million. “Students who have accessed GATE to do an associate degree or diploma (who) will now be allowed to access GATE again to complete a bachelor’s degree is estimated to cost the Government an additional $50 million, but we believe it is necessary.”