There is an ever growing need for parents to send their children to school if the Ministry is to achieve the targets set out in its Strategic Plan, said Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh. This is especially crucial, he said, to support the Ministry’s efforts to create child-friendly schools and resources.
“If parents do not send their children to school, this will affect the results that we are getting. So when you hear people say look at the literacy levels and so on, it is partly because parents are not sending their children to school as is happening in Region One.”
But plans are apace, the Minister said, to address this situation. He revealed that there are plans to make strong interventions in the New Year through the schools’ Welfare Department. In this regard, he disclosed that some parents may very well be prosecuted.
“We will have to prosecute some of these parents for keeping their children out of the school system…” the Minister passionately asserted.
A meeting at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) on Friday was geared at highlighting some of the challenges that are affecting schools and thereby hindering the achievement of the targets within the Strategic Plan. And according to the Minister, “we will know by Region what progress is being made. The Strategic Plan ends in 2013 and so there will have to be incremental improvements, and if we do not see incremental improvements we have to make strategic decisions of how we can bring things in line…That’s what it is about.”
According to the Minister, the Ministry cannot wait until the end of 2013 to realise that 40 percent of the Plan has not been achieved, hence the need for a continual monitoring process. And given the reports that have been forthcoming thus far, the Minister is confident that the desired results will eventually materialise.
One of the fundamental principles underlying the vision of the Ministry of Education’s strategic plan is to address the quality of education that is being provided to both teachers and students. Earlier this year, NCERD Director Mr Mohandatt Goolsarran had revealed that as part of this effort plans were apace to expand the non-graduate certificate programme in the area of English and Mathematics. As a measure to address poor results in the subject areas of Mathematics and English at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level in the public school system, the non-graduate certificate course programme for teachers was introduced. The first batch of teachers participating in the programme graduated in early June. However, Goolsarran had revealed that the non-graduate programme is now designed to include Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Information and Technology and Special Education needs. And several television programmes, CDs and DVDs have been created to aid the programmes that have been engaged.
In addition to this, he said that a multi-media centre would be introduced which will be responsible for all of the media production for education. Further, he disclosed that a Special Education Unit has been established to deal with children with difficult circumstances, both physical and mental. As such he noted that special programmes are developed in special need schools to help the academic development of children with varying disabilities. And to address the issue of technology education, the Ministry has appointed a National Coordinator for Science and Technology. That person according to Goolsaran is responsible for overseeing the range of training programmes that the Ministry has, all the way from nursery to the Technical Vocational Schools and Teacher Training College. This move is crucial Goolsaran said, in keeping with national guidelines which are encompassed in the strategic plan.
As part of the Ministry’s strategic plan a monitoring and evaluation unit has been put in place to monitor the implementation and the attainment of certain goals outlined by the Education Sector’s Strategic Plan.
The Strategic Plan addresses the “bigger goals” of the education sector, including areas such as literacy, school health and nutrition as well as the assessment systems. It was early last year that the Minister had announced that the strategic plan (2008-2013) was accepted by Cabinet and the donor community. With funding from government and a whopping $20.5M grant through the Education For All Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) it is anticipated that the goals of the plan will be reached within the specified timeframe.
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