Haynes calls for data-driven education

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

UNC MP Anita Haynes – Parliament

TABAQUITE MP Anita Haynes said help for academically weaker pupils must be directed by information about their learning status.

She said so on Wednesday in reply to Government’s recent announcement of remedial assistance.

“The Ministry of Education’s recently announced remediation programme must be bolstered by targeted data-driven interventions in order to meaningfully impact the intended student population.

“We have found ourselves in a situation where we are struggling to recover from Government mismanagement and its impact on the education sector.”

She said the transition to virtual education during the pandemic was mismanaged and so too the return to face-to-face classes.

“As a result, there are multiple cracks in our education sector through which students are falling at an alarming rate. Now, in the effort to address these gaps, measures such as the Vacation Revision Programme and this new Remediation Programme must be supported by data-driven policies.”

Haynes questioned the data and metrics informing the new programme.

“We still do not know whether or not the Vacation Revision Programme was impactful. What we do know, however, is the programme was significantly under-subscribed.”

She said Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly had failed many of the 46,000-plus students who were unable to access virtual learning and asked what was done to help them make up lost ground.

“What we do know is failure rates have hit record highs while absenteeism and student indiscipline have become major concerns.

“It raises the question, how can we ensure students gain from a remediation programme that continues the trend of no publicly reported measures for success?”

Haynes asked about the Student Support Services Division (SSSD) which she claimed was reported to be understaffed, yet is now being asked to provide extra support in the remediation programme.

“It is quite concerning that the new Remediation Program will feature the hiring of tutors and centre managers while the ministry continues to steer clear of the challenges faced by the Teaching Service Commission, and the SSSD which is battling staff shortage.”

Haynes said declining academic performance in recent years was not a reflection of student ability, but a lack of governmental support in preserving and enhancing learning spaces.

“We are now dealing with the fallout of recklessly-scrapped programmes that were proven to support and improve student performance.”

Haynes urged the Government to get ahead of challenges in the education sector.

“Just last week, UNESCO’s International Day of Education observance called for political will to ensure inclusive and equitable access to education.

“Under the present administration, that will is clearly absent as the government continues to put plasters over gaping wounds.”