October 3 was not the first time that the controversial Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) survey was administered to ten- and 11-year-olds at secondary schools across the island.
Chief Executive Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw admitted this much when she confirmed rumours that a similar test was also conducted in June this year. Last week’s survey, which was originally called a computer science pre-test, included questions that quizzed first-formers on their sexuality, gender identity, substance use and abuse as well as personal information about their parents.
Speaking on VOB’s Down to Brass Tacks’ Sunday programme, Archer-Bradshaw did not address how many additional children and schools were affected in the first instance.
Moderator Glyne Murray said he was “highly flabbergasted” and “baffled” that such a test was conducted twice.
“Is the system so lax that no one picked up on that in June that they could have passed it on to the Chief Education Officer or the Chief technical officer who would then pass it on to the Chief Administrative Officer, the PS [Permanent Secretary], to the minister and therefore steps could be taken? How did that slip through the cracks?” he enquired.
Archer-Bradshaw said, “What occurred in June and what occurred in September were all part of the same project. So it isn’t that there were two different projects. As I became aware of it last week, we began to take the actions in order to delve deeper, find out exactly what happened and take actions to address this particular situation.”
She said the IDB and its consultants were responsible for the dissemination of the instrument within the classrooms.
Pressing further, Murray quizzed the CEO, who was also joined by Minister of Education Kay McConney, on whether the responsibility of the education officers who performed checks at the school on the implementation process, extended to them also scrutinizing the content.
“Did you trust the IDB so implicitly? Certainly, you must know, a person at your level, that these institutions bring their own biases, their own desires, their own goals they want to achieve on behalf of their donors who are the developed world whose cultural balances and expectations are different from ours. Did nobody ever check the content? I cannot understand how it could have happened so repeatedly and nobody spot it,” Murray lamented.
This chief’s revelation came after she had earlier shot down claims that officials of the Ministry of Education were naïve by not vetting the final test questions after she admitted that they had initially opposed some that were eventually included.
“In terms of being naïve, I would say no! I would like you and the public to understand that the IDB and the Ministry of Education have a longstanding relationship. We’ve been working together for a very long time; trust had been built up. We’ve never had a situation such as this one before to be the best of my knowledge and what really happened here was as surprising to me as it was to the parents who recognised that something was wrong,” Archer-Bradshaw said. (KC)