Education - a key focus of the National Consultative Forum
Fri, 10 October 2014
The 3rd Meeting of the National Consultative Forum took place at State House yesterday morning under the chairmanship of President James Michel.
The meeting focused on members' concerns on the national education system which according to some members was failing to meet public expectations. Members advised that steps be taken to ensure improved availability of teaching and learning resources. They deplored reports that not all students had access to the textbooks they needed; this problem should be resolved immediately.
Members advised that the Ministry of Education should establish clear achievement targets for pupils and students at all levels, and these should be published for the benefit of parents and all stakeholders. Pupil progress should be carefully monitored against these targets at key stages of education.
Members advocated for greater private sector involvement in the provision of education.
Government could benefit from assessing the experience of private schools to determine which of their best practices could be adopted within the state school system.
Members advised that attention should be paid to the structure of the curriculum in secondary education to ensure that school leavers were better equipped for the world of work.
Members appreciated the presentation to the Forum, by the Minister of Education and her senior management, of the Education Medium Term Strategic Plan 2013-2017.
However Members queried whether the Ministry had the necessary human and material resources to successfully implement the plan. Greater efforts should be made to train, recruit and retain teachers.
Some members advised that any changes that were to be introduced should be piloted before being widely adopted.
The debate on Education will continue into future meetings.
Members also touched on outstanding issues such as the Public Order Act, which still remained with the Courts for a ruling, and the Elections Bill which would be presented again to Cabinet shortly, following amendments made to it after the most recent consultations between the Office of the Attorney General and the Electoral Commission.
Members advised that there be greater collaboration across agencies involved in assisting victims of drug abuse.
With regard to previous recommendations of the Forum on the setting up of high level consultative mechanisms to address sectoral issues, the President advised that he would be setting up such a mechanism to address issues relating to environment. There had also been calls for a forum to discuss concerns of the financial and offshore sectors.
The next meeting of the Forum will be towards the end of October.