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To shore up the education landscape, the Ministries/Departments of Education should consider the following:
- Ceation of student personnel departments, to include counselors, social workers and school psychologists, available to students, teachers, parents, administrators and the community.
- Full time reading and writing specialists in every school, who can operate both as push in (during reading instructional times) and pull out (with the requisite space and resources) teachers.
- Broad band, smart boards and other audiovisual resources in every classroom and each student with computer access.
- Teachers’ aides to help with classroom management, students’ instructional understanding and engagement.
- Self-contained special ed classes with schools becoming wheelchair accessible.
- Comprehensive, ongoing, data collection on schools, to be aware of real time developments, ensure ongoing evaluation, continually strengthen areas of weaknesses, and distribute best practices across the education landscape. Migrate to electronic data collection, including a portal for students’ evaluation that can be accessed by parents and guardians.
- Ongoing training of all teachers to ensure readiness for new challenges. Selective, piecemeal leaves huge gaps and adds to the existing inequity, while placing some teachers and schools at disadvantage. As well, teacher training should not be subjected to the vagaries of politics.
- Reduction of class sizes. Researchers generally agree that a class size of no larger than 18 students is required to produce the desired benefit, especially individualization and personalization of instructions.
- Establishment of a school safety unit within the police force. To facilitate quick response large schools should be equipped with intercoms.
- Incorporation anti-violence and related issues such as self-esteem and self-confidence; anti-bullying and cyber bullying; saying no to drugs and alcohol; dealing with violent and/or toxic home environments; teenage pregnancy and anti-sexual abuse, into the Health and Family Life and Health Education program, where this is not yet in place.
- Setting up school leadership teams (SLTs) comprising parents and community members along with administration rep/s, selected teachers including the union rep, one or two student reps, perhaps from the Students’ Council and a Ministry of Education rep such as the education officer. SLTs develop educational policies for their schools and make sure there are resources to support those policies.
Also school administrations should be empowered to:
- Harness student’s creativity: poetry slam club with students’ performances recorded and shared; art club enabling students to create murals on school walls and within school communities; drama clubs, music clubs, dance clubs with talent tapped to enable fundraisers and participation in contests and online high school newspaper clubs. To facilitate all of this, schools should be allowed to use one afternoon session weekly for club activities. Implement a creative arts program to supplement the clubs with subjects such as fashion design and cooking, enabling students to leave high school with portfolios and a body of work that they use to seek further training and career possibilities.
- Set up work study and internship programs. That only a few schools have such programs, is vastly unfair to other students and fosters the existing inequity.
- Establish mentoring and remedial programs in high schools to close the gaps among students.
- Build an inclusive sports program that encompasses a minimum set of sports for all schools and include PE as part of the curricula for all schools. In this respect schools can build relationships with sports clubs and associations whereby they can access training for their various teams and with alumna, local and overseas for resource support.
- Add a vocational program to the curricula, along with STEM and a technical program, where these do not yet exist, so that needs of all types of learners can be fulfilled and all students provided with career pathways.