LETTER OF THE DAY - Ministry of Education playing with policy
The Editor, Sir:
The Ministry of Education's statement about a play policy has come, I am sure, because some adviser has convinced the ministry that research strongly supports this notion, and they are right.
In fact, play is an important part of children learning to build narratives and develop stories. I am more than convinced that we have the necessary expertise in this country to carry us forward, but we do not have the will. So again, we have another policy which will be generated from consultation with the public, according to the administrators. It will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean. I guess this fact of being first is the best thing about it for the Ministry of Education.
While I believe that consultation with the public is good, and articulating policy is necessary, I am not convinced that we go beyond these consultations and policies. A significant number of schools at all levels do not even have a playing field, much less a level one.
It spills over into many other things as, although we have goals for the education system, I realise that much of our resources are being spent on developing policies, setting up committees, and creating new positions, while the children for whom we are doing these things are only being honoured with lip service and policies.
Our Ministry of Education is on a public-relations drive. Many more positions have been created for efficiency, they claim, but the lot of schools, in terms of building the skill levels of teachers in meaningful ways and providing books that are appropriate to the level of children and that respect their culture and language, is not matching up with the committees, positions, and policies being generated.
There is so much talk about an inspectorate and standards coming from the policymakers and the ministry. The teachers and children only hear pronouncements and statistics that leave many children graduating without requisite qualifications or social skills.
Prioritise training for teachers
Before assessment and talk, we must prioritise training for teachers and provide meaningful resources for schools. We need to shift the focus from policy to meaningful action. Far more resources need to be put into training and upgrading teachers so that they can deal with the learning difficulties and new challenges that meet them daily in the classroom.
Our administratively focused Ministry of Education needs to focus on "action, not a bag o' mouth".
I am, etc.,
Rock Spring, PA