Statement by Education Minister on the opening of the 2013-2014 academic year
September 01, 2013:
Tomorrow September 2, 2013 marks the beginning of the new Academic School Year and on behalf of the Ministry of Education, I wish to extend sincere best wishes to all the near 250,000 students in the Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary Schools of our nation, as well as the approximately 16,000 Principals, Vice Principals, Senior Teachers, Heads of Departments, Deans and Teachers for a very successful, enjoyable, healthy and safe year.
In the past three years we have pursued an aggressive, reengineering, transformation and paradigm shift in our Education System. This to ensure our education sector is second-to-none globally.
Upon completion of laptop distribution in September, nearly 70,000 laptops would have been provided to Forms I-IV students, all Principals of Primary and Secondary Schools and School Supervisors. Near to 4,000 Teachers have been trained with the infusion of the curriculum with ICT. All 134 Secondary Schools have functioning Computer Labs, ranging from 1 to 6 labs; three hundred of the 476 Primary Schools have Computer Labs, all serviced by more than 150 IT Technicians.
We are now moving closer to achieving Universal Early Childhood Education by 2015. We have 200 ECCE Centres functioning - 71 run by Servol and 80 Private Sector ECCE Centres are now partnering with the MoE. More than 800 teachers have been trained in ECCE, now bringing close to 15,000 students ages 3 and 4 under the formal ECCE education programmes.
Stakeholder consultations commenced on the situation of Special Needs Students with more teachers being trained in the 24 MoE and Private Special Needs Schools. Wider and deeper consultations are continuing to effect a comprehensive policy of mainstreaming of special needs students’ inclusivity in Education.
Primary and ECCE School Curriculum review and reform have been completed while Secondary School Curriculum Reform is being initiated.
There has been significant improvement in Literacy and Numeracy in all Primary Schools and very much improved academic performances in SEA and CAPE.
Fewer students are scoring less than 30 percent in SEA, moving down from 13 percent to 8 percent. 72 percent of SEA students scored above 50 percent, up from about 58 percent three years ago.
Over 100 Primary Schools have moved up from underperforming (Academic Watch) to well-performing (Mostly Effective), while another 100 have moved to the Excelling category. There has been a 10 percent improvement in Creative writing and Language Arts. At CAPE, from about 86 percent three years ago to 93 percent achieving Grades I to V.
Students from over 80 Primary Schools have placed within the first 200 SEA places and National Scholarships have moved from approximately 250 to 372 in the past three years. The introduction of the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) has led to significant improvements in performance in the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA).
Thousands of Teachers have been exposed to various Teacher Training and Development Workshops over the last three years in several areas, while School Supervisors are undergoing training in Leadership and Management.
In infrastructure, from July 2010 to October 2012, Repairs and Maintenance had been carried out in over 650 schools at a cost of 340 Million, using more than 450 small, medium and long-term contractors, creating thousands of jobs. In 18 months, there were 939 emergency jobs dealt with in our schools, while daily, there are about 6 schools experiencing emergencies with toilets, sewer and water systems, major and minor electrical problems and pest infestations. This is as a result of inherited widespread school dilapidation from the past. Approximately 100 schools are over 100 years of age; 200 are more than 50 years of age. During the repair programme in July/August 2013, 212 schools underwent Repairs and Maintenance – about 30 of these requiring major electrical works. There have been 32 Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) schools constructed, with 20 more to be completed by December and 26 commencing within one month. Another 50 ECCE schools are to be constructed in the upcoming fiscal year. There were 11 Primary Schools constructed, another 14 are in progress and 50 more are scheduled to commence soon. With respect to Secondary Schools, seven have been constructed, nine are in progress and 17 Science and Administrative blocks will commence.
All of this has been done throughout Trinidad and Tobago within the last three years.
Curriculum vocational qualification subjects are being undertaken from 42 schools in 2010 to 102 schools in 2013. Cadets, Boys Scouts, Girl Guides are being strongly introduced in our schools. A strong focus is now being placed on Physical Education and Sports in schools - Total Gyms are now being procured for 50 Secondary Schools.
Improved Schools Based Management is being actively pursued for prevention and reduction of indiscipline and dysfunctional behaviour in schools with a zero-tolerance approach to bullying.
Schools are now provided with over 700 Student Support Services personnel including Guidance Counsellors, School Social Workers, Behavioural, Clinical and Educational Psychologists. Over 42,000 students from Forms 3, 5 and 6 were exposed to a two-day symposium to Career Guidance from six Tertiary Learning Institutions, fifty Business Corporations for over one hundred professions.
The MoE has undergone serious organisational restructuring incorporating Human Resource Management Information Systems in accordance with its Strategic Plan 2011 to 2015 and its prioritization.
In this Academic year, students will continue to benefit from them and many more new policies which serve to reinforce this Government’s commitment to Education since this sector remains one of our mainstays in our nation’s continued path to progress and prosperity.
But we cannot succeed without the cooperation of all of our parents, teachers and students. Parents –please remember that without your commitment to your children’s education and personal development, our society is in danger of losing even more of our young people to crime and violence. We suffer a crisis in parenting at this time and the time has come for you to recommit to your duties and responsibilities to your children.
Build stronger bonds with your children. Talk to them about their lives, their problems, their interests and their emotions. Ensure they are well supervised at all times. Let them know they are subject to strong boundaries and discipline and above all. Let them know that you love and care for them.
To the Principals and teachers, I applaud you for your dedicated work but I must implore you to recommit to the very noble task with which you are entrusted as educators.
We seek a reduction in teacher absenteeism and better academic performance among our students, especially in their literacy and numeracy skills.
Teach our children with inspiration, love, caring and dedication.
And to our students, I urge every single one of you to be mindful that you are now benefiting from opportunities that no other generation in this country ever had. You therefore have a duty to your parents, your teachers, your fellow citizens, whose ‘tax dollars’ fund you, your country and especially yourselves, to excel at your school work. Be respectful, disciplined and diligent with the aim of one day serving our nation as dedicated hard-working citizens.
I urge all Principals and Teachers to join the students in reciting and singing the words of our National Pledge and our National Anthem respectively, in honour of our country’s 51st Anniversary of Independence and commit to its ideas.
As stakeholders in the Education System, we are the ones who have a special duty to demonstrate patriotism and we must be the best example of the decent, law-abiding citizens at this time and beyond, to preserve our beautiful country for our future generations.
I’m sure that we will all work together towards these goals and I wish you a very safe, productive school year ahead, filled with achievement and joy, rich in God’s blessings.
For further information please contact the Corporate Communications Division, Ministry of Education:
ph:628-1581 / fx:628-2088