Last update: 12-Dec-2013 4:50 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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What is going on with our primary schools?
Within the last week, Friday to Friday, my three primary schoolchildren have all been able to attend class with a teacher for only one day, Monday to be exact. This shocking occurrence is because of the Ministry of Education’s training of primary schoolteachers in the new curriculum. I have also been told that this will occur again during the month of October (for 12 days in total—three days for each of the year groups). Let us look at this closely as there are many factors and consequences at play here. How many parents can, in fact, keep their children at home, or at the office for this amount of time? Secondly, if the children are sent to school there is a problem with a lack of supervision. Some teachers and principals cannot tell the parents directly to keep them at home or there is “no school” (although some have), but the reality is there is no school because there is no teacher. Since last term when some teachers were away for two-week training workshops, we were told by the Minister of Education that things would be put in place. As a parent, I am still awaiting these “things” to be put in place, because I had to find somewhere for my children to go, instead of school.
Apart from the inconvenience to parents, let us look at how our children are being affected. One first Year infant teacher lamented that she has never had a class take so long to settle in her many years of teaching, because as soon as the routine is established there is an interruption. A standard four teacher indicated concern about the volume of work being missed, as standard four is where the bulk of the work is covered. This is also the term with Sanfest and the primary school football league, so those of us who want our children to have the all-round development, will have the academic hours of exposure this term significantly cut down. Of course, we parents are very interested in what is being covered in these workshops (but that will be covered at another time). For now I must ask the question: does the end justify the means? Because if teachers, of their own volition, choose to be absent with this frequency, the Ministry will clamp down on their lack of responsibility towards their students. However, when the Ministry mandates that this needs to be done during the school term, although the consequence is the same, it is not viewed as irresponsible. I wonder what the week before the school term begins can be used for. In many other schools, it is for teacher training!
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