AFTER attending a recent two-day training workshop for the Continuous Assessment Component of the SEA on Citizenship and Character Education, a line from George Orwell's Animal Farm came to mind… and I paraphrase… "all are equal, but some are more equal than others…"
The public should be made aware that, notwithstanding the PR hype by the Ministry of Education on at the success thus far of the programme, not all schools are on a level playing field. Many schools are yet to receive the infrastructural support and resources that were assured for September 2012.
The "portfolios" for creative writing were received for standard four in some schools as late as January 7, 2013, and some schools are yet to receive full supplies… even the quality of these "portfolios" varies. Initial supplies were fairly high standard covered notebooks, but as supplies quickly ran out, the Ministry resorted to sending ordinary, over-the-counter notebooks from the bookstores.
Simple investigative efforts by reporters would reveal that little to no music, agricultural science and physical education supplies are in schools. Toilet paper is running out in some primary schools as the Ministry shunts finances for schools supplies into funding for CAC supplies.
Another adage comes to mind… "if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well"… The insistence on rushing the implementation of the Continuous Assessment Component, despite the repeated warnings of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers' Association and the concerns voiced by the many teachers in the primary schools, will only serve to introduce hurriedly developed, under-resourced components to the curriculum.
This will impact severely, negatively and irreparably on the very primary school pupils that the Government and the National Parent Teachers Association claim to so care about.
The fact that even resource materials for teachers at the training workshop were in short supply is glaring evidence of the unpreparedness on the part of the Ministry, their lack of proper planning and their inability to efficiently and effectively conduct their programmes. The facilitators at these training workshops are unable to answer the many questions raised or address the myriad concerns articulated by teachers. The Ministry appears to be making things up as they go along.
The moderators insist that "the programme can work", and they continue to adjure teachers to "give it time".. "keep an open mind"… "all the assistance required will be provided"… it appeared that they were also trying to convince themselves of the validity and workability of the programme. Schools have been promised timetables, storage areas, equipment and the requisite syllabi for each subject area.
Teachers have been assured that the superficial training in content and assessment provided at these workshops is sufficient. They are promised that their valid concerns will be taken to the relevant authorities and addressed… and this brings to mind a third quote … "a promise is a comfort to a fool"…
Afterthought… see also Chinua Achebe's book titled Things Fall Apart.