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Haynes Knocks Govt’s Record In Education Sector

Haynes knocks Govt’s record in the education sector:
You must account

THIS Government has overseen the deterioration of the education system in Trinidad and Tobago, stated Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes as she piloted a private motion on education yesterday in the House of Representatives.

Introducing a motion calling on the House to condemn the Government for its failures and mismanagement of the education system and to implement data-driven measures to guarantee the successful future development of Trinidad and Tobago, Haynes said: ‘When you stand here today you have a duty to answer the questions to account for where the $6 billion has been going, and why we have the dropout rate stuff we have and why we are seeing the levels of school violence, why the physical infrastructure of the school is crumbling. You have a duty to account.

‘When we call on this Government to immediately implement data-driven measures to guarantee the successful future and development of Trinidad and Tobago, what we’re saying is don’t create a unit called data-driven measures; don’t form a committee to look into the data to drive the measures, we are tired of that. What we are saying is… accept that you have failed and account to the people of Trinidad and Tobago on how you intend to do better,’ she said.

Haynes said the education sector represented the building blocks for the new generation of T& T and therefore people needed to reflect on whether the education system was working for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, ‘specifically whether the education system promoted tolerance, social cohesion, the culture, the vision, the goals and values and the outcomes required for well-functioning education society. The education system should not only equip individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the workforce, but should also foster critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving abilities which are essential for innovation and progress’.

‘Given that the Government has overseen the deterioration of the education sector, what does that mean for tomorrow’s teachers, civil servants, policemen and women, business owners and even politicians; what type of society are we creating?’ she asked. ‘The highest budgetary allocation is given towards the education sector….are we seeing value for money?’

Lack of will

Haynes asked whether there was a lack of will within the system to develop policy and to implement it.

The Government ‘without a doubt’ had failed to maintain the school infrastructure, notwithstanding the fact that in the last nine years an average of $200 million was spent annually on this item.

‘When you go into a school building, and the louvres falling down, the rail falling, the blackboard mash up, what are you saying to these students and teachers?’ she asked.

‘The effect of that is that you’ve created a system that is not conducive to learning and to success,’ Haynes stated, adding: ‘If we can’t expect you to solve small problems, how can I expect you to solve the bigger problems?’

She called on the Government to fix the nation’s schools.

Haynes also spoke of the failure to make the delivery of special education more equitable and accessible to the citizenry.

Quoting from documents prepared by the Ministry of Education, she said the Ministry ‘notes that most special schools are privately- owned, only 27.2 per cent or 12 special schools are public schools’.

She said the document noted there were 63.8 per cent on average, more male than female students in the public special schools. She said when the UNC in preparation of policy documents sat in its caucus, it had a very important discussion on the introduction of psychometric testing in the early years so that students in need could be targeted.

Stating there was a lack of political will to address special education, Haynes said: ‘The money is also there, so don’t tell me it is a resource problem. It is that as you contemplate your priorities, you did not include inclusive education, special education access as a major priority of this Government,’ she said.

Haynes also spoke of the unemployment of qualified persons, people who were university graduates, because the Government had failed to ‘optimise curriculum development to reflect our labour needs’.

‘I am sure everyone in this house, all 41 representatives, are met with stacks of resumes of students who went through the system, did everything right, studied hard, applied themselves, did their very best, and for years now are trying to find a job.

Malice and bad mind

Haynes also knocked the Government for its failure to provide adequate laptops and devices for students and teachers.

She said malice and bad mind led this Government to abandon the laptop programme of the UNC (United National Congress) administration which affected learning, particularly in the period of the Covid pandemic.

She said a key element of equitable access to education now involved access to technology.

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