Member of Parliament for Tabaquite, Anita Haynes, at her maiden contribution as a member of the House of Representatives, during debate on the 2021 Budget. (Image courtesy Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago)

Member of Parliament for Tabaquite Anita Haynes says the Ministry of Education should share the data they use to create policy. She was speaking in reference to the recent announcement by the Ministry about in-person classes resuming on October 4th for vaccinated students from forms 4-6. MP Haynes says several of her constituents called her office afraid their children will be left behind. The following is a press release from the member of Parliament:

The Member of Parliament for Tabaquite, Ms. Anita Haynes, is once again calling on the Ministry of Education to share the data behind policy-making so that parents, teachers and students can be reassured of their safety when in-person classes resume come October 4th, 2021.

“We know there is an absence of data, I have raised this matter multiple times. Whether we’re discussing the filling of vacancies or the availability of devices among students and teachers, the response from the Education Minister always glosses over the numbers.

However, anecdotes and rhetoric are not enough to inspire confidence in citizens. We need proper data.” Haynes said.
“Following the Ministry of Education’s announcement this morning, several constituents have reached out to me with their concerns. Some are afraid of their children being left behind due to their vaccination status while others are worried that their children may be at risk when physical classes resume. Additionally, many are wondering if schools can safely facilitate learning with socially distanced seating and regular sanitisation while also catering to the students who are unable to attend in-person classes.

In order to allay these fears, the Ministry of Education must provide clear and consistent guidelines as well as data in support of these types of announcements.”

MP Haynes also recalled that, a mere three weeks ago, the Minister of Education was quoted as saying that teachers are not required to disclose their vaccination status. She noted, “From the information we have available, it seems as though the only vaccination rate being monitored is among the student population. What about the vaccination status of teachers, auxiliary staff members and other employees? Is that not also an angle to be explored when discussing in-person classes?”

Haynes continued, “What’s also concerning is that the Ministry of Education is only just engaging teachers in diagnostic tests aimed at assessing loss of learning. Some teachers have reportedly cancelled all classes over the past couple of days to ensure that they can submit the required information in the short time frame provided. Moreover, as we continue to explore this issue of learning loss, we must also examine the unique challenges being faced by students with special needs.

MP Haynes asserted, “This exercise comes almost eight months after the Joint Select Committee on Social Services and Public Administration (JSC SSPA) reported that 46,770 students at both primary and secondary levels, had never logged on to portals facilitating online learning[1]. The Ministry of Education needs to get serious about data collection and reaching students who have been left behind over the past year and a half.”