President reiterates call for school curricula to be re-imagined

President reiterates call for school curricula to be re-imagined

“The curricula should be re-imagined with less emphasis on examinations as a placement tool and our children provided with the technological tools and instruction they need to access and succeed at learning.

That’s the message from President Paula-Mae Weekes for Sunday’s International Day of Education.

This year’s International Day of Education is themed Recover & Revitalise Education for the Covid19 Generation, and promotes the efforts and initiatives of countries around the world to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on education and safeguard the future of learning.

In her message, Weekes said this country has not been spared the far-reaching effects of the virus, given that most schools have been closed since March, with teaching shifted almost exclusively to online platforms.

“Remote learning has enabled many students to continue their academic journey, while others on the other side of the glaring digital divide are at risk of falling behind,” she said, noting that at the start of the pandemic, the Ministry of Education estimated around 65,000 students lacked the connectivity and devices needed for online classes.

“Generous donations from public and private sector individuals and institutions have reduced that figure,” Weekes wrote. “But far too many children remain isolated and disconnected from their fundamental human right to education.”

She said there had been “other serious ‘knock-on’ effects of the disruption to the education system.”

These included many children losing access to regular and nutritious meals from the school feeding programme, and others experiencing increased abuse as a result of spending more time than usual at home. The pandemic, she noted, also affected “administration, grading and review process of critical exams, leaving many students disappointed and frustrated.”

She said teachers also struggled to adjust their teaching methods for digital platforms, managing and monitoring students online and reaching those who had no access to devices and connectivity.

“Covid19 has served as a wake-up call for all of us to ensure that the system becomes resilient, flexible, innovative and ready to weather present and future crises.”

With schools scheduled to open next month, she said it was “imperative that the challenges thrown up by covid are addressed.

Weekes said the country’s educational institutions should be properly outfitted and equipped for both physical and virtual learning and teachers trained continuously in the administration of both frameworks.

“The curricula should be re-imagined with less emphasis on examinations as a placement tool and our children provided with the technological tools and instruction they need to access and succeed at learning.

“On this International Day of Education,” she concluded. “let us commit to strengthening and modernising our education system so that our young people – our most precious asset – can thrive in this ever-evolving world.”

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