The deterioration in this year’s Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) results is the direct result of the reversal of a number of policy initiatives of the People’s Partnership Administration.
The current Minister of Education and his Junior Minister have quashed a comprehensive package of measures that had led to the best-ever SEA academic achievement in 2014, which was even bettered in 2015.
This year, close to 15 per cent of SEA students scored less than 30 per cent. The number of students achieving less than 30 per cent had been reduced to one per cent under the People’s Partnership Government.
The current regime has overturned and undone strategic measures that allowed for the fullest development of students.
That included the provision of moderators and facilitators in more than 200 primary schools to provide one-on-one assistance to students.
In addition, targeted support was provided in creative writing. Students were asked to write 10 essays over a year, with the top five being elected.
The Ministers of Education have also discontinued the more than 400 homework centres, which had provided essential learning opportunities to students, especially those who are most in need.
There has also been a significant reduction in the number of personnel in the Student Support Services Division, including Guidance Counsellors, Social Workers and Educational Psychologists.
Further, the management leadership capabilities at respective schools have been weakened, with the curtailment in teacher training and development and removal of Parenting in Education Programmes.
The current Ministers have largely been absent from institutions of learning and, therefore, have not provided personal encouragement and inspiration to students to higher achievement.
The decline in the results is disheartening and disturbing, especially after the historic academic gains of 2014 and 2015.
I urge teachers and parents to keep the faith with their students and to work diligently in leading them to scholastic successes. Today’s students are our leaders of tomorrow and the most essential resource in the development of a modern, innovation-led and knowledge-driven society.
I equally implore the Ministers of Education to initiate a strategic approach to the education system, in order to once more achieve historic levels of achievement and to bring broad smiles to all SEA students, parents and teachers.
The Ministers should note that their Government is hyping developed nation status but that such progress cannot be attained amid declining academic performance.
Dr Tim Gopeesingh
Former Minister of Education