Education Minister: Teachers are marking the SBAs

Teachers have apparently ignored the directive of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) on the “Work to Rule” and have marked the School Based Assessments (SBAs) of students for the 2019 exams.

Minister of Education, Emmalin Pierre

According to Education Minister, Emmalin Pierre, a total of 19 out of the 22 secondary schools on the island have submitted their SBA scores by Monday to the online platform provided by CXC and that she anticipated that by Tuesday the Ministry of Education will get the remainder.

Speaking to reporters at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet Press Briefing, Minister Pierre said she has not received any reports of teachers refusing to mark the SBA’s submitted by students.

“I am not aware of any case where we’ve had a teacher who said I am not marking SBAs or I refused to mark SBAs – Teachers have been extremely supportive. We have not had any SBAs delivered to the Ministry of Education, as I said before, all indications points to the fact that teachers have marked or probably wrapping up marking and entering and I believe we can safely say that,” she told reporters.

The senior government minister attributed the conscience of teachers coming into play as the reason for the decision to carry on with the marking of SBAs despite the warning from GUT.

“As a matter of fact, I believe, after working with a child for five years and even if you boil it down to the two years (for) Form Four, Form Five, I doubt this teacher would like to see that child go to no grade because I did not mark his SBA – (I don’t think they) will want to leave with that on their conscience for the rest of their life, I doubt,” she said.

Minister Pierre took the opportunity to commend the teachers for working with the students to do their exams in 2019.

She said: “I want to use this opportunity therefore to recognise all of the teachers and principals who have continued to perform their duties as it relates to the marking of SBAs and the entering of the scores. I have to view it as extremely unfortunate any person who would discourage a teacher from marking of SBAs or entering the scores of SBAs, recognising how important SBAs are to the success of students academically”.

Minister Pierre stated that the ministry’s position on the SBAs is that it is part of the normal assessment of students and “we expect that this would fall under the regular assessment duties in accordance to the Education Act of our teachers.”

While agreeing that the teachers could have some additional support when marking SBAs, she does not see it as “anything extra in terms of the assessment.”

“When I say extra there I was speaking to as it relates to additional duties. So, for example, a person who works 8 to 4 and they take on additional things after four o’clock normally in the private sector, you are paid overtime, for example.

“Now what I am saying is that if we used that analogy, I am saying that between 8 to 4 like in the private sector for example, during those hours, we expect that those things would be done and so the same with regards to the teachers and the marking (of) SBAs – we view it as part of the normal responsibility of those teachers who teach those levels at the secondary school.

“…Now if you ask me whether teachers deserve additional (money) for anything at all that teachers do, I would say yes. The question is – are we in a position to do so, including all the other things we’ve been speaking about for the past couple months. It’s not an issue per-se as to whether they deserve anything extra or not, the issue is what it is that government can do at this time.

Minister Pierre alluded to the positions prevailing in other Caribbean islands where CXC exams are held including Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica.

She said the view is held that monies to be paid to teachers for marking SBA’s will result in extra cost to students for each subject.

“… In some of those countries that (marking SBA’s) this is viewed as part of the responsibility of a teacher because in the Education Act, it speaks about assessment of students,” she added.

Asked if the problem was to escalate in 2020, whether the Cabinet of Ministers would implement the plan as announced by Prime minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to go into the classrooms to teach the students, she said the government has a responsibility to come up with a solution.

“We do have MPs right now – outside of an industrial action – we do have MPs that go into schools and assist in the classroom …” she added.

Minister Pierre spoke of one Member of Parliament who currently visits a school once a month.

“I think I heard him say that he goes to a particular secondary school and offer support. Now when we visit schools, we may pop into a classroom – I have done one hour sessions with students – I think in that context, whatever you can do to support.

“I can bet you this – now if something happens, the government does nothing, we going to have the same outcry that the government didn’t do anything. So, when there is a crisis, when there is a problem, the critical thing is finding a solution and sometimes that solution might not be the norm, it might not be obvious that everybody expects, but the important thing is that when there is a problem, you need a solution.”

Minister Pierre announced at the press briefing that a contingent from CXC will be in Grenada in the next two weeks to shed some light to teachers and parents on the importance of SBA’s in the education life of students.

“We have been in touch with CXC and have received a commitment that they would be prepared to come to Grenada in the next week or two to engage all of the necessary stakeholders in additional discussions on SBAs. We view it as critical that parents should understand SBAs – we view it as critical that there should be on-going and refresher exercises as it relates to SBAs for teachers as well and so we view this visit, not just for the teachers, not just for parents but also for education officials and we consider this to be extremely important,” she said.

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