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Dear Editor: President Weekes’ ‘education’ overhaul is too vague to threaten status quo

“Everyone seems to be in agreement with president [Paula Mae] Weekes’ [call to overhaul our education system], which isn’t surprising for two reasons: she’s the President; and she offered no concrete examples of what an overhaul would constitute.

“This vagueness allows anyone to agree to an overhaul, according to whatever they conceive that to be.”

The following Letter to the Editor on president Paula Mae Weekes’ call to overhaul the Trinidad and Tobago education system was submitted to Wired868 by Kevin Baldeosingh of Freeport:

Photo: President Paula-Mae Weekes (right) sits with students from her alma mater, Bishop Anstey High School (POS) at her inauguration ceremony on 19 March 2018.
(Courtesy Office of the President)

The recent statement by president Paula Mae Weekes that Trinidad and Tobago’s education system should be ‘overhauled’ has drawn universally positive responses from certain quarters, including Education Minister Anthony Garcia.

Everyone seems to be in agreement with president Weekes, which isn’t surprising for two reasons: she’s the president; and she offered no concrete examples of what an overhaul would constitute.

This vagueness allows anyone to agree to an overhaul, according to whatever they conceive that to be. But it is noticeable that everyone who has expressed agreement with president Weekes have proffered measures which, far from being against the pedagogical status quo, only constitute more of the same.

A true overhaul of our education system, however, could start with three reforms: (1) privatising all the denominational schools; (2) creating autonomous school boards for all government schools, including the power to hire and fire teachers; (3) removing any state-mandated regulations for the opening of a school in order to allow more variety and competition in the education sector.

I need hardly add that everyone who has expressed support for an education overhaul will reject all of these suggestions.

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8 comments

  1. Re “(3) removing any state-mandated regulations for the opening of a school in order to allow more variety and competition in the education sector”

    Competition and the lack of proper state-mandated regulations in the education sector is why we have inadequate supports, services and accommodations for SEND students at all levels. We actually need more, *much more* participation by government in this area.

  2. I will take vague over nothing at all. You must start somewhere and that change must include all students writing IT along with Math and English a final subject. That’s my starting point.

  3. Earl Best

    “I need hardly add that everyone who has expressed support for an education overhaul will reject all of these suggestions.”

    True. But you do need to say why. And, I think, what that implies for education in the country.

  4. It would be good if there was a community consultation to assist in settting the questions for an open review and evaluation prior to any changes being made.

  5. Kevin has suggested three strategies to guide the overhauling of our education system. It’s hard to argue against any of these as we seek to drive transformational change in education. The need for independent school boards with real teeth is paramount. Obviously, curriculum redesign in keeping with the nation’s development goals is critical.

    One sidebar that Kevin must keep in mind. It’s ok for President Weekes to place as an objective the overhaul. She doesn’t have to provide details on the what and how. Sometimes change starts with simply knowing that something different has to be done