UNC blames ‘dismantled’ education system for ASE’s poor performance


Anita Hayes –

US National Congress Sen. Anita Haynes says remedial vacation classes for the 9,000 students who scored below 50% won’t work if Education Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly refuses to see the shortcomings of existing education policies.

At UNC’s weekly press conference Sunday at the opposition office, Charles Street Port of Spain, Haynes lamented this year’s poor overall performance of SEA among more than 12,000 students.

Haynes believes that regular assessments, stable virtual platforms, the availability of learning devices for all, and a focus on psychological health coupled with specially designed programs for children are behind what is needed.

At a press conference last Friday after the release of the 2022 SEA results, Gadsby-Dolly said 37.06% scored above 50% – a notable drop from 63% in 2020 and 52.49 % in 2021.

She said 52.6% of children who scored below 50% were placed. She also shared that 27.81% of those students scored 30% and below. And 17.7% of them were too old to sit and were placed anyway.

Even the number of students with high scores exceeding a score of 90% has fallen from 3% last year to 0.47% this year, she said. She said face-to-face learning could be the biggest driver of this achievement problem.

But Haynes thinks the system has never been structured to meet the needs and demands of students, especially during covid19.

She accused the government of cutting support structures to deal with mental health and violence in schools and of failing to push technology into schools and improve its online platforms to help learning from a distance.

“They couldn’t see the importance of continuous assessment of inequitable educational spaces, they couldn’t see these things working until this government came to power in 2015, where we were seeing record levels of achievement.

“If you can’t admit to knowing that you are deliberately dismantling structures that worked just out of sheer petty politics. That you can’t admit that they worked before and you won’t at least restore the proven ones, then you tell the nation that you absolutely don’t care about children.

“If we take this ongoing trend from now, five years, ten years later, we’re not looking at a society that’s thriving, we’re barely hanging on to survival.”

She said many children who did poorly in school felt left out of the system and became involved in delinquency.

And if the ministry doesn’t see the need for urgent reform, Hayes said, the system will continue to fall after covid19.

“It means government policy, PNM policy has created a generation that is not learning the skills they need to go out into the world. And we are also facing a lack of any type of solution.

Haynes also disagrees with the department’s decision to scrap nominations for top SEA students. She thinks that the program can be revised and such an approach now poses problems of transparency.