Tabaquite MP wants answers on student dropout figures

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Tabaquite MP wants answers on student dropout figures

The Ministry of Education’s revelation that approximately 2800 students dropped out of primary and secondary schools across Trinidad and Tobago between 2020 and 2022, caught the attention of the Opposition.

Tabaquite Member of Parliament, Anita Haynes claims the Ministry of Education failed vulnerable students.

Haynes in a media release issued this afternoon is questioning the Ministry’s figures on student dropouts, which she says have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic period.

“In 2020, the former Education Minister reported that there were 65 000 students without a learning device. In January 2021, the JSC on Social Services and Public Administration revealed that 46,770 students, at both primary and secondary levels, had never logged on to online learning platforms. In March that same year I questioned the Minister of Education in the Parliament regarding what measures were being put in place to address the high level of student absenteeism on virtual platforms and what additional resources were extended to the Student Support Services Division. I also raised the issue of student reintegration when schools reopened physically and called for data-based measures to minimise the negative impacts of learning loss.”

Haynes also claims that her calls, and those of many other education activists, have fallen on deaf ears.

“Since taking office I have urged the MOE to combat the data deficit and implement data-driven policy interventions to address key challenges in our education sector such as declining student performance, student indiscipline and the need to functionally integrate technology in education delivery.”

“Unfortunately, the Education Minister’s initial response to my queries regarding students falling through the cracks in the virtual system was to undermine the data I referred to, data that was put out by her ministry. Even now, as students and teachers grapple with the various fallouts of learning loss, her position continues to be one of turning a blind eye to issues that are very prominent to citizens across T&T, repeatedly dismissing concerns raised, all the while with this data in her possession. There can be no clearer indication that the MOE’s inaction in this matter is the direct result of the minister’s wilful choice to leave the issue unaddressed.”

Haynes maintains that there is a great cause for concern when considering the future ramifications of the current dropout rates.

“If this administration were serious about their so called all-of-government approach there would be a clear plan of action to tackle this matter at the root by treating with socio-economic challenges. The fact is, children are dropping out of school to help make ends meet at home. The absence of executive polices to frontally treat with this matter is a poor reflection on the government – either they are incapable of doing what needs to be done or they have deliberately abandoned our children who fell through the cracks of the education system in order to save face. Nevertheless, as citizens we must continue to push the government uphold their end of the social contract lest we suffer the consequences.”