We couldn’t agree more with President Paula-Mae Weekes that our education system needs an overhaul if the expectation of a greater calibre of student and citizen is to be realised. And we also compliment her on choosing an appropriate target audience – young and ambitious academic achievers and their parents. The ones that have excelled and are amenable to a desire to make things better for this country rather than themselves alone. The President reminded a gathering of the top achievers of CAPE, CSEC and SEA that society as it stands today is nothing more than a mirror reflection of us collectively.
Our education system, although renamed numerous times under different political incarnations, remains largely unchanged in terms of structure and curriculum. It caters mainly for the individual from as young as five to as old as twenty-something to ‘beat book’ only if one is to achieve excellence and the highest accolades. SEA is no different to Common Entrance and similarly, CSEC is no different to O’ Levels or CAPE to A’ Levels. None offers the student an opportunity to broaden his horizons at such a crucial age and to be recognised for it. It’s probably why President Weekes advised the youngsters to ensure that they do not become ‘multi-degreed people who lack the empathetic bonds necessary to make them valuable people.
Many would recall post primary education where those who were not academically inclined we introduced to trade schools that equipped them with a skill. A casualty of political bungling no doubt, that has contributed significantly to the dependence on handouts and the CEPEP syndrome. We must also look at other cultures that we love to emulate and extract the positives. How many Trinbagonians have ever been awarded a sports scholarship to a university? How many great cricketers, footballers or artists have been denied opportunities to shine because our education system is too backward to acknowledge their skills outside of academia?
While we fully endorse President Weekes’ call for educational reform, we are not holding out high hope that it will happen in our lifetime. The lack of political will to undertake anything constructive since independence has crippled the average Trini and kept him dependent on the powers that be for a handout or a 10 days. One may conclude that it is not in the interest of existing political ideology to have well rounded, educated citizens who wish to aspire to take the reins of the nation and lead it to greatness. Luckily for us President Weekes was also addressing the parents of the remarkable youngsters who possess the resolve for raising children with character. Hopefully, one of them may someday rise to the challenge.