The Right To a Socialised Education

By A.T. Freeman

Even before the Covid 19 crisis the right to education at a high level – with first class standards, equipment, facilities and resources – had been compromised by neoliberalism and the disastrous effects of financial cutbacks and the austerity programme. Trinidad and Tobago(TT) has not been immune from the effects of this decade’s long process. The effects are seen in the quality of education offered, which is often commodified, inconsistent and leaves many children in need of additional support, as well an extensively documented disparity between government schools and private education.

With TTs schools closed since the start of the lockdown in mid-March many people have realized that teaching is a skilled profession and that to take responsibility for a classroom requires dedication, commitment and training, as well as the resources and facilities to deliver this essential service to the society’s children and youth – and ultimately to the country’s economy.

When the TT Ministry of Education recently signaled that school closures would continue until September it became clear that as well as the impact on children generally, examinations would be postponed and the process for those pupils making transition from primary to secondary school as well as to further education would be severely disrupted.

To address the closures the TT Ministry of Education and the autonomous Tobago House of Assembly Division of Education have brought forward launches of internet based websites and platforms. For those children and families without internet access or PCs or laptops TV programmes of a few hours per day have to suffice. There are also reports of private schools reopening and offering distance learning using Zoom and Google Classroom.

Whilst the consequences of those without access to internet will be entrenched inequality, for those children with internet access, and their parents, there remain many questions and queries. Will there be an induction for pupils in the use of these online platforms, what will be the content of the online lessons, will there be interaction or a teacher speaking, have teachers been inducted or trained in this online method?

As with many similar issues being highlighted during this period a debate is underway which illuminates that society exists and that we its members are responsible for it. Similarly that teaching one’s children is not an individual endeavor or the responsibility of individual parents trying their best, but in actual fact has evolved over a century and a half as a highly socialised, interrelated and multifaceted feature of a society’s ongoing development. 

The debate enquires how the right to a socialised education be can guaranteed – an education, which is free, high quality, technologically adaptable, using the highest level, most modern equipment and facilities and resources and which prepares children and young people to contribute and participate as leaders of the new society which they will inherit.

Whilst parents and teachers and guardians and other professionals have been trying to solve the current and ongoing practical problems caused by the Covid 19 pandemic now is a good time to take a look at what comes next. The starting point of discussions should be the initiatives, the foresight, practical solutions and experiences of teachers and support staff, as well as pupils and students, being listened to and acted upon.

ENDS

Below are links to three articles that further reflects the debate on education in these times:

Education in the time of covid19

NEWSDAY THURSDAY 16 APRIL 2020

DARCELLE DOODNATH

As we continue to battle the pandemic covid19 in TT, the issue of continued access to education for our students has emerged at the forefront of national debate. With the opening of the new school term possibly delayed even further – perhaps even until September – educators are now faced with the considerable challenge of delivering the curriculum remotely….

Continue reading at:

/https://newsday.co.tt/2020/04/16/education-in-the-time-of-covid19/

COMMENTARY

Challenges for education strategy after covid19

NEWSDAY TUESDAY 7 APRIL 2020

TTUTA

Part I

THE WORLD Health Organisation declared the covid19 virus a pandemic on March 11. The term pandemic refers not necessarily to the severity of a particular illness, but rather to the rapidity and intensity of spread around the globe. The intention of such a declaration was to precipitate preparedness plans by governments and to trigger emergency procedures to protect the public, such as more drastic travel and trade restrictions….

Continue reading at:

/https://newsday.co.tt/2020/04/07/challenges-for-education-strategy-after-covid19/

COMMENTARY

Challenges for education strategy after covid19

NEWSDAY TUESDAY 14 APRIL 2020

TTUTA

Part II

THIS WEEK we continue our examination of the challenges confronting education strategy development in the wake of covid19, while proffering suggestions for consideration

There are many commentators who refer to the significance of supporting the mental health of people during this isolation stage. When school reopens, will the ministry ensure that steps will be taken to help students and teachers readjust to the structure and predictability of school?

The provision of EAP services for school workers and counselling for all students are imperatives to re-establishing the education system. As in many other countries affected by the pandemic, this period of suspension could provide an opportunity for consultation and planning to develop strategies to overcome the limitations and deficiencies of what previously existed….

Continue reading at:

/https://newsday.co.tt/2020/04/14/challenges-for-education-strategy-after-covid19-2/

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