Tuesday 21 May, 2019

Garcia: Overhaul of education system already started

Education Minister Anthony Garcia has welcomed the call for a better education system by President Paula-Mae Weekes, during the President’s Medal Award Ceremony 2018 on Tuesday.

At a presentation ceremony for recipients of the President's Medal, Weekes advocated for a complete overhaul of the education system.

In a statement on Wednesday, Garcia said he was in agreement with the President's view. 

“Her Excellency’s view is shared by us at the Ministry as it coincides with the work that the Ministry is currently carrying out to improve the education system. We have been able to, over the past three years, not only shift our focus to prioritising literacy, numeracy and penmanship for all of our school-aged children, but also provide our students with the opportunity to excel in sports as well as the visual and performing arts." 

"We have emphasised the importance of holistic teaching and learning and this is being reflected in the outcomes of our students. In this past academic year, we recorded the best performance in ten (10) years”, Garcia said.

Garcia noted that the Ministry continues to work to ensure access, quality, and equity in education for all students.

The Ministry is currently in the process of refining a revised Education Policy aimed at the effective governance and administration of the education system; access to educational opportunities by all learners; and provision of quality education at all levels.

The revised policy is the outcome of a three-day National Consultation on Education in 2016, where stakeholders in both Trinidad and Tobago were engaged and concerns and recommendations on the way forward were collated and taken to Cabinet.

The Policy was recently taken to stakeholders again for a final review to ensure that the concerns raised in 2016 have been adequately addressed. A final draft will be presented to Cabinet in the coming weeks for approval prior to implementation.

The Minister also echoed the President’s call to instill strong values, morals, and citizenry among students indicating the Ministry’s contribution in these areas.

“The Ministry of Education through its diverse curriculum offerings—Values, Character and Citizenship Education (VCCE), Health and Family Life Education (HFLE), Social Studies, History and Religious Education—have placed emphasis on educating students not only academically but also contributing to their values and character development”, he added.

The curricula specifically target life skills such as decision making, responsibility, self-awareness, empathy, citizenship, honesty, caring (for oneself, community, country and environment) and justice. Additionally, all curricula (VAPA, PE, Science, ELA, Mathematics, Technology and Technical Vocational Education) are designed to support these outcomes for the twenty-first (21st) century learner.

Addressing another call by the President for students to assist in reforming T&T through morals and values Garcia said many of these teachings are learnt outside of the classroom and is the responsibility of the whole society. 

"While the school curriculum facilitates the learnings and understandings for the development of good character, the school and classroom should not be seen as solely responsible for ensuring that students are in possession of the values and skills that would allow them to make a contribution to the country’s national development now and in the future."

"Young persons generally acquire and model their values and behaviours from parents, leaders and other adults in the society," he added. 

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