Give T&T proper textbook programme
This government chastised the last for almost every initiative. It labelled the last government arrogant, foolhardy and tactless, but in real hypocritical style, the People's Partnership steadfastly emulates the PNM in almost every way.
The textbook rental programme failed on many levels and I know that teachers, administrators and parents were very disenchanted with it. The textbooks were selected by some elitist group; some group who knew what was best for all the children in all the schools of Trinidad and Tobago. Textbooks never adhere to a one size fits all theory. Principals and staffs must have a say. Teachers select texts by perusing multiple books and based on real consensus of staff, choose the ones which work better for them and their respective classes. Teachers are being robbed of their creativity and judgment when it comes to planning programmes and using books they see practicable to their lesson outcomes. As far as educators and parents are concerned, the start of the last academic year was a fine one; new books for everyone and pupils could actually make use of them. Really, Mr Minister, how do you expect a student who is meticulous or tenacious to paper a book that appears to have been used in a football match?
The Ministry failed to deliver these substandard books to schools on time every single year. Imagine receiving Reading Texts in the last week of the second term of the academic year. My niece has completed her stay in Standard Three and has not yet received an atlas. Her teacher had to photocopy maps, plans, etc to complete the map work outlined in the Social Studies syllabus. I remembered being up in arms about reusing the 'Let's Learn Science' for four years!
Then there's the question of how books are returned by pupils for reuse by other pupils. Books become deplorable and succumb to the perils of time. 'Dog Ears', ripped pages, pulled out pages, permanent marks with ink and stains of all kinds. And who must be accountable? Of course! Teachers! I can recall several pupils not returning textbooks or returning them in horrible condition, and despite efforts to mobilise the correct authorities to handle this, no one came forward and did anything. What is a teacher to do when some deviant decides to ignore any plea to return a book? Many classes across the nation continue to have pupils without texts, because the full amount of books initially sent out is never the amount replenished.
The new minister and government have not yet unveiled the rampant corruption in this textbook 'scheme'. Why continue with something which got and still has so much of a negative rap?
Why is the government trying so hard to provide everything for everyone? Breakfasts, lunches, books, education, etc. Good gracious! Stop spoiling people! As a parent, I felt proud to provide for my children and whatever the hardships, I did what I had to, to ensure that they had all they needed for a great education. It is this handing out of all sorts of things that has made many parents irresponsible and more dependent than independent. How is a child to treat a book that he/she knows is not his/hers to keep and knows that his/ her parents did not pay hard earned money for it? There are social implications here!
This is how disorganised the minister and his ministry is. On July 27, 2012, 20 days after the closure of school, at a post Cabinet conference, the minister tells parents, "No need to rush and buy books." Perfect timing, Mr Minister! The timing of this announcement tells such a long, unfortunate story about you and your government. Teachers and principals have already decided on a booklist. They couldn't wait for July 27, sir. Unless you want a difficult start for academic year 2012/2013, cancel this old grandiose plan.
Please heed the call of your teachers, sir, there's no need to tell us what texts to use and frustrate us with indefinite waiting periods. We're good and ready with the current system. Leave it be. Invest the millions of dollars that you and this Partnership intend to use on fixing schools which are in dire need of repair.
CAC is already a distasteful and nauseating pill to swallow. Let's not cause critical illness with second rate textbooks granted in a second rate textbook scheme.