Congratulations to Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly on her re-election and subsequent appointment to the Ministry of Education. However, I must also add a strong word of caution with respect to the task ahead.
The Prime Minister indicated that he has mandated radical change in the direction of this ministry. Already there is a disturbing clamour for changes with respect to the “concordat” between church and state. This agreement has been in operation for about 60 years. Unfortunately, undue obsession with this matter will detract from the necessary focus for successful resolution of the type and scope of change required. The concordat is tangential to the substantive issue which is that of redirecting our national education policy.
Policy must primarily target building nationhood through developing all our peoples. It should also contribute to the development of confidence and capabilities which would empower nationals to take their places at all levels in the global community of nations.
By convention, a generation interval is about 30 years. Realistically, a complete resolution to this issue of change will require a budgeted time frame for this ministry of somewhere between 14 to 21 years. In the interim, the immediate task is to develop a T&T identity that facilitates self-actualisation of all our peoples. Simultaneously, this policy must also be informed by a concept of a national relevance in trade, aid and investment at all levels of international relationships.
It has also been signaled that national programmes must be rooted on the electronic digital platform. Implicit in this decision is that appropriate weighting and attention will be placed on the necessary infrastructure to make efficient changes possible in a timely manner.
The new minister must be cautioned to access appropriate advice and assemble the necessary skills. It is the only way in which there can be meaningful change.
These changes will impact early education activities all the way through to tertiary level. It is indeed a humongous task.
The knee-jerk propensity to tinker with tangential issues of the concordat and the SEA placement examinations should be avoided at all cost.
Samuel B Howard