Playing games with education
The Minister of Education and all high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Education should be publicly demoralised, reprimanded and belittled for the brazen, authoritative approach they have adopted in their illogical desire to implement the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC).
There are simple irrefutable, fundamental realities that deem this project impractical.
Why can all these supposedly educated people not see what is painfully obvious? There can be no "hands on" science in schools without science laboratories or the proper furniture to support apparatus that has to be used in such a process based approach.
There can be no "hands on" science when the Ministry of Education fails to send all the required materials for all pupils to participate. If some cannot, then do not term the approach "hands on".
My son informed me on Friday that his teacher received one sheet of brown paper, one measuring tape and two pieces of plasticine, each measuring about 4 cm in length. What is his teacher supposed to do with these materials? Can these materials facilitate a proper, enquiry-based experiment for a class with 25 pupils in which the lesson is to investigate the strengths of different types of paper?
And what about the "hands on" mathematics? At the workshops, teachers were given directives to have pupils use all sorts of manipulatives: geoboards, solids, cuisannaire rods, fraction strips, base ten blocks, etc. The ministry has sent absolutely nothing to my son's school! Who dare say, "hands on"?!
How are teachers supposed to teach dance and drama without stereos, specially constructed rooms with mirrors, etc and what parents deem appropriate music? Is the ministry expecting teachers to buy stereos? Is it expecting the children to go out into the yard in the hot sun to dance? Are children supposed to ignore heat, sweat and the curiosity of passers-by as they get into drama?
The intention of the English Language Arts component is to give credit to children who can use the writing process, an opportunity to be judged not on only one piece of work, but several, including the final assessment. However, my dear public, the ministry is not going to inspect and mark all notebooks. No! In a school of hundreds, they will choose four books randomly and award a score to all the pupils of that school based on the standards observed in the four books.
Parents of this land! Do not sit and take this nonsense! Teachers, rise up and speak! We all need to send a message to the so-called intelligentsia; schools need to be upgraded with computer labs equipped with "working" computers, science laboratories, drama/dance rooms, art rooms, etc.
Please, Mr Minister, do not expect pupils who are struggling in 35 degree heat and cramped classrooms to fulfill their obligations re CAC. It is a novel idea, but our schools are not ready for it.
Fix the schools. Fix them all! Teachers and parents always hear the word "standardisation' when it comes to testing. Let there be standardisation of infrastructure and facilities at all schools. Let all schools be equally equipped and ready for such a programme so that the playing field is fair and level.
Honourable Tim Gopeesingh, if you wish to leave a legacy fix all the schools! Some are dilapidated, some are in dire need of roof repairs, working toilets, secured floors, working doors, pest eradication, space, etc. The list is endless. I feel so sorry for Malick. How can high-ranking officials of the ministry be occupied with CAC when there are pupils without a school to go to. Get your priorities in order, Mr Minister!
Will CAC work? Did the laptops work? Did the amendments to the Education Act re corporal punishment help? Did the provision of free textbooks to pupils make a difference? The results seem to say NO!
The ministry ought to invest its energies in school repair, construction and renovation and curriculum revision to lessen the overwhelming workload. Unless these people in suits and ties get into the schools, they will remain clueless about what will and will not work. They were all teachers, come into the schools and teach for a week or a month! Get into the shoes of teachers and pupils; then think about what education needs.