The Education Ministry will begin a national consultation on education starting Tuesday November 10 with the theme: Transforming Education: It takes a village.
The consultation will use different approaches to get feedback from the public. They are: town hall meetings, seven focus groups with key stakeholders, eight webinars, suggestion boxes placed at education districts and offices of Members of Parliament and questionnaires/surveys available at the ministry’s website: www.moe.gov.tt. An email address will be functional during town hall meetings and through the consultation process for members of the public to send their comments and suggestions.
The first town hall meeting on the topic: Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) will be broadcast live on November 10 from 7.30 p.m.to 9 p.m. on TTT. The other meetings and topics are as follows: Thursday November 12, The Concordat; Tuesday, November 17, Parental involvement in Education; Thursday November 19, Blended Learning; Tuesday, November 24, Curriculum Reform and Thursday November 26, The Teaching Service Commission. There are consultation briefs on the ministry’s website.
Questionnaires and surveys for parents, students and by extension, other members of the public will be available on the ministry’s website from November 9 to December 4.
Speaking at the launch at the Education Towers, St Vincent Street, Monday November 2, Education Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said a consultation was held in 2016, from which the Education Policy Paper 2017–2022 was approved by Cabinet for the implementation of policies, programmes and projects.
She said 2020 marked the halfway point of the policy paper and an opportune time to review what was accomplished. As education systems around the world are impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has chosen the opportunity to ensure the system for its stakeholders are “relevant, effective and necessary at this time.”
Although the education sector had to find new ways to meet the challenges and as the country manoeuvres the new digital landscape of teaching and learning, “the reality of the inadequacy of some of our existing systems became glaringly apparent.”
Gadsby-Dolly said the systems, policies and regulations originating in the post-independent era and from the 19th century have become imbedded into the education system. The attendant norms and associated issues of these are unmanageable and unsustainable.
The 21st century in the increasingly competitive global village has resulted in “the relevance of these structures and institutions are continually being called into question and as such we seek to answer these questions through consultation,” Gadsby-Dolly said. The education system must also cater for the vulnerable.
Association of Denominational Boards on the Concordat
The Association of Denominational Boards of Education (ADBE) has maintained that they continue to support the provisions established by the Concordat of 1960 to assure the preservation and character of their schools. “The Association rejects any and all attempts to undermine the constitutional right of its members to the enjoyment of their properties,” the boards said in a statement on the Concordat. In the 1960 Concordat, government and denominational bodies agreed to collaborate in the provision of education.
The statement said, “The provisions established in the Concordat aim to assure the preservation and character of the denominational schools. The denominational bodies contribute the use of their properties and their managerial experience”.
The boards make 100 per cent of places available at primary schools and 80 per cent at secondary schools. They retain the right to allocate 20 per cent. “The Government undertook to meet some of the costs of education”.
The boards stated the Concordat gives effect to the right enshrined in the Constitution (4 (a)) to enjoyment of property and right of a parent or guardian to choose a school for the education of his child or ward (4 (f)), and freedom of conscience and religious belief and observance (4 (h).
The Association reminded of a judgement delivered January 2012, from Justice Sebastien Ventour who stated, “The right of the parent to choose would be meaningless if there were no alternatives from which the parent could evaluate, or access before deciding the most appropriate school for the education of his or her child”.
The statement cited the Education Act of 1966 which defines the duty of the Education Minister to provide a sufficient number of public schools to secure sufficient school places for children of compulsory school age. “With only approximately thirty percent of primary school students enrolled in Government schools, the fulfilment of this duty is dependent on the continued existence and maintenance of denominational schools,” the statement said.
It highlighted that despite the current agreement between the government and denominational bodies regarding funding, boards continue to assist with the cost of repairs, and improving the teaching and learning environment. This involves the efforts of teachers, students, parents, community members, alumni, corporate citizens. The fundraising activities of schools was also mentioned and involvement of alumni in major projects e.g. building extensions.
The statement reiterated the boards are committed to continuing collaboration with the government and citizens for the provision of holistic education of the highest quality in its primary and secondary schools.