FORMER EDUCATOR URGES GOV’T TO GET EX-TEACHERS IN ON REFORM EFFORTS
By Sheria Brathwaite
Historian and former educator Trevor Marshall is calling on the Government to establish an education reform review committee comprising former educators to assist in the national education reform process.
He told Barbados TODAY that the former teachers have much to offer to guide the Mia Mottley administration on the way forward.
“I would like for them to organise a committee of former educators for us to look at what the proposals are. I think that we who used to teach should be given the opportunity to look at the proposals and see what we agree with, what we don’t agree with and what we can come up with. The Ministry of Education should bring us in,” Marshall said.
“Let’s say you have over a hundred people in Barbados who were former principals and teachers. That is a body of wisdom there; they would have seen all types of children. If you have a body of people who used to be teachers and who at a glance can tell you something critical about each child, that body of people should be consulted when you are making decisions about how you are going to transfer children from this stage to the next stage,” he insisted.
Marshall added that it was hard to weigh in on the proposed education reform as there was no document to reference, noting that the proposals should have been made public before there was any consultations.
Over the past few weeks, officials from the Ministry of Education have been hosting meetings with teachers, unions, parents and children to hear their views.
However, Marshall said he was somewhat “confused” by what the ministry was trying to achieve.
“We are hearing confusing things. We are hearing that the Common Entrance is going to be abolished and when you abolish the Common Entrance you fall into the situation that several countries have fallen into – you get a mixmash of different systems.
“We hear that whatever happens, children must be tested by age 11 and the only other system you can use is to transfer them wholesale without examination to a school next door. So all the children in Bridgetown will be going to Harrison College? You could imagine the children from the ghetto going to Harrison College? There would be a disparity in terms of learning. We still have a system that emphasises academic excellence and what we have to do is emancipate the children [from that],” the historian said.
Marshall said there were two major issues in the education system – a shift away from reading and indiscipline, especially in five particular secondary schools.
“What do you do with the children from those schools? The problem isn’t the children in the other 16 schools. How do you deal with that? Now that we have almost abolished flogging in schools where only the head teacher or vice principals can flog anybody, what do you do for discipline?
“Then there are children who are into marijuana and smoking before they reach the point of 11-Plus so remedial work [needs to be done].
“How do we deal with slow learners, ‘don’t want to learners’ and all kinds of things like that? Those that have developmental delays, boys and girls with Down Syndrome, attention deficit disorder and dyslexia?” the former tutor questioned.
He added that parents were also influencing their children to focus on the wrong things.
“We concentrate nowadays on giving them the best clothes and shoes, not the best books. We don’t concentrate on giving children the best book material to read. Nowadays, children’s shoes are $300 and that’s the emphasis. We are asking parents to concentrate on how the children look and not what is going into their brains so the children develop a sense of priority.
“Every household in Barbados should have reading material, should have books. These children only have books to read at school. You go to a house and the children only have electronic material so children would grow up with a hatred for books or indifference to books,” Marshall contended.