Education Consultant Dr. Michael Alleyne, school Principal Ronald Sanchez and noted novelist Merle Hodge led animated discussion about a number of serious issues in the education system as part of the Emancipation Support Committee's 2009 Kwame Ture lecture series. The focus of the discussion was the Idakeda documentary Baby Doll Meets Midnight Robber: Carnival Intervention for the ‘At Risk'.
The documentary showing attracted a number of stalwarts of education such as Trevor Oliver former President of the Trinidad & Tobago Unified Teachers' Association, educators and interested members of the public. Khafra Kambon, Chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee also lent his support.
High on the list of concerns was the need for more stringent evaluation of teachers, and the call for a supervisory system which would monitor teaching techniques and classroom behaviour and results.
The issue of children in crisis generated many recommendations for improvements in the school environment to benefit them such as:
All the panelists were agreed that the solutions need to be wide-ranging, aimed at not only at students, but include parents, teachers and the bureaucrats in charge of the system. For instance, despite the recognition of the value of Theatre Arts in helping young people in crisis to better cope with their circumstances, vacancies are often difficult to fill and those already in the system feel sidelined, not a real part of the overall curriculum.
All were agreed that there is a disconnect between education and culture, a point made strongly by Mr. Kambon, who spoke of the tendency to actually perpetuate negative interpretations of local culture, such as equating Carnival with ‘wining' and debauchery.
This dilemma of creating a better relationship between education and culture is in fact one of the strong themes of the Idakeda documentary and the motivation behind the work of our team.
We at Idakeda extend our sincere thanks to the Emancipation Support Committee for hosting this discussion, to the panelists for taking the time to share their knowledge and expertise and to the members of the public who shared their thoughts on the subject. We hope that the discussion helped to crystallise the issues and inspire solutions.
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