Dr Tim's terrible time-table
After attending a meeting at my son's school, the relevant teachers shared with us some details of what is expected of them and our children for the 2012-2013 academic year.
I was relieved to find that in areas like PE and Music the required tasks seem to be simple, and workable, and should actually provide the children with the opportunity for varied, enjoyable school experiences in their last academic year at primary school. I am also pleased by the new approach to creative writing, focusing on the process of writing and not only on the final product.
However, my concerns are as follows:
1. Our Minister of Education does not deal with us, as parents (and citizens). He has not acknowledged parents' concerns about the upcoming changes, nor issued detailed information that may allay our fears. His autocratic approach disrespects us as citizens in a democratic nation.
2. Like most parents, I welcome the opportunities for holistic education for our children, but I am disturbed by the urgency of implementation of the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) at the SEA level for 2013.
Taking students through a programme of projects and then assessing them at the end of approximately 12 weeks (September to November 2012) does not qualify as continuous assessment. I support the introduction of a true continuous assessment system, with exposure to all curriculum areas, from Infant Level and assessment from Standard One. A phased-in approach over five years (or even three) would allow for identification and correction of weaknesses in the system, before the students reach SEA level.
I believe that the motivation to press ahead with the current plan is purely political and does not have our children's best interest and holistic development at heart. In the past, Dr Gopeesingh has lamented that the percentage of students who do not achieve at least 30 per cent at SEA is too high. Surely, by introducing 20 per cent of the final mark to be attributed to the CAC modules, this statistic is sure to change in his favour, but would it be a true indication of an improvement in the level of literacy of our 11-year-olds?
3. It seems that the total time requirement for inclusion of the additional subjects may be extensive, and is likely to put both teachers and students under additional stress, given that 80 per cent of the SEA mark will still be attributed to the existing Mathematics and Language Arts, and despite moving the exam from March to May.
It has been said that one of the reasons for actually assessing the additional areas is to force the teachers to teach them, since some SEA teachers neglect to do so. Is it possible that teaching of these areas at SEA level could be monitored by the Ministry to ensure that the children receive a broad education, without the uncertainties associated with a rushed 'continuous' assessment conducted over three months?