|Students must do better |
By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, January 3 2016
Retired educator Dr Lennox Bernard wants Education Minister Anthony Garcia to urgently address under-performance in the public primary and secondary school system.
With the re-opening of the new school term tomorrow, Bernard said Garcia should convene a meeting with the principals and school administrators in under- performing public primary and secondary schools, particularly in high risk communities.
Apart from encouraging dialogue about the schools’ requirements and concerns, he said, attempts should be made to provide evidence-based data on students’ performance at high stakes tests, levels of delinquency among students, teachers’ regularity and punctuality.
Bernard said Garcia should also allow technocrats to suggest and implement innovative management techniques as well as initiatives to enhance teaching skills and parent/community interaction.
“Together, this will provide a way forward in keeping with the national reform envisaged,” he told Sunday Newsday.
Bernard, a former independent senator, also said every primary and secondary school must adhere to the Code of Conduct governing primary and secondary schools.
“All parents must be familiar with this document beginning with the first parent-teacher conference and school orientation session. Each parent must be provided a copy of the document,” he said.
Bernard called for the establishment of student development centres in each educational district to meet the needs of students on suspension.
“The curriculum must be crafted to allow for rehabilitation, social and emotional development and compensatory learning,” he said.
The minister has planned a national consultation on education for early this year to address the school violence and other issues plaguing the sector.
Bernard urged Government to embark on an “information blitz,” early this year, to draw greater awareness about the social ills confronting the country.
He suggested that many of the issues affecting citizens could be addressed through “small and simple projects that do not drain the public purse.” “The People’s National Movement (PNM) was elected on a wave of popular support. That support was fuelled in part by the need for Government to address the common everyday needs and wants of the citizenry, to reduce the daily stress of living and to provide good governance, a better quality of life and social peace,” he said.
Bernard said State media could be used to address issues relating to parenting skills, buying local, preventative health care, financial literacy and thrift as well as value systems.
Initiatives, he said, could be implemented to deal with traffic violations such as indiscriminate and illegal parking and over-loaded and defective vehicles.
Suggestions for enhancing quality of life
*Get all public servants to perform their duties by encouraging punctuality, regularity, efficiency and active communication with the public .
*Greater mobilisation and use of police and traffic wardens at major intersections during peak hours .
*Decisive action on property owners that allow overgrown bushes on vacant lots and with owners with vehicle parts - outlets that allow for the breeding of mosquitoes and the possible spread of dengue fever .
*Initiate a campaign led by health inspectors to ensure that all public eating places are sanitary and free of rodents and other pests. Roadside food vending should also be monitored and controlled .
*Initiate a street-lighting campaign especially in dark and deserted areas .
*Provide and make more accessible sanitised public washrooms in the urban centres .
*Improved accessibility to public spaces for the physically-challenged.