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Sunday, October 17, 2021
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My view of our struggling educational system

First, it is important to say that I am no educator, no extraordinary scholar, nor am I familiar with the intricacies of the education system. Just someone who is not criticizing, but simply trying to say how she sees things and putting in her five cents’ worth, hopefully to make a positive difference. I would therefore like to share with you an independent opinion and hope it is taken as just that – an opinion.

It is my belief that the subject matter is wide and all-encompassing, but if we can zero in on a strategy that could work to help improve the system, then do not hesitate to try it. You see, I find myself asking to what degree is the approach to education today mistaken? I feel that since 2019 and probably even before, the signs were making themselves known. We don’t know exactly how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting students’ academic learning, but we know enough to assess the likely consequences. I am sure that impromptu opinions and suggestions have been put forward on the discussion table and for me, the best and most realistic could be a suggestion to revisit the traditional standardized tests the curriculum is built around, to perhaps look at an alternative or to discontinue it. Does this mean lowering the bar? Far from it! I look at it as thinking smart. Over the years, we have seen the number of subjects that students had to prepare for grow, and while it is a
magnificent achievement, the mental strain on both students and teachers is overwhelming. With so much advancement in the world, isn’t it right to say that the content of the school curriculum need not be more, but that the way information is imparted must be smarter?

Look, traditional standardized tests have limited value now and are proving costly at a time
when ‘no money deh’ and may be doing more harm than good, more so for teachers, who need to rebuild and recover and engage in catching up. The psychology of teaching was always an art, but now it is more like a balancing act, with an elephant on the tightrope. It is taking a heavy toll on the teachers and the overall teaching process. If it is hard enough to ponder how to get the teaching across, think about the state of minds of the students and what is their level of capability to grasp and take in — how their learning ability has been affected by being so long out of the classroom. Also, has any survey been done to see how the parents and children are really dealing with the situation? How do we deal with this now? This is a tsunami that came without warning!

Reimagining a new societal and educational system is a daunting task, but the future of our
youths depend on what must be done. We are living in a modern day of technology and globalization, and now COVID-19 is having a field day with us — destroying our hearts, minds and wills. The way to fight in tough times is NOT TO DO MORE BUT TO THINK SMART WITH LESS! It may not be a good analogy to draw on, but it would appear that is exactly what we did after Hurricane Hattie destroyed Belize to the ground. That doesn’t mean the bar of education is lowered. But perhaps we should really listen to ideas that make us think hard and not comments that make us feel good. This is one idea that we must listen to.

I think that the ace in the hole to fill the gaps must be computer technology and the vast information that can be obtained. As I see it, many of us, like myself, went through the standardized tests when the maximum GCE passes were five to seven. Does that mean we are less learned in comparison to those with 14 passes and higher degrees? The argument
could be what one accomplishes. It is true, but how many are the numbers?

So, ever think that perhaps in these times education should be development-oriented?

Emphasis should be on the pros and cons and what could possibly be applicable to Belize.

Gear society to solving problems and pushing frontiers.

Act locally but think internationally. In essence, based on what we are experiencing, I say aim for the needs of our youth and for our country to get our feet back on firm ground, and the rest will follow.

Finally, this is the perfect time to call on the support of our exceptional academic achievers
to brainstorm for an end result that can work. What an amazing picture and proud feeling
that brings up!

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