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Sunday, 14 October 2012 11:28

Education - Proposals from Ralliement Citoyen pour la Patrie

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On 21st December 2011, Club des Militants addressed its concern towards the Honourable Minister of Education in Le Mauricien, «if he focuses on the primary schools initially, it may have a ripple effect on the secondary sector.
There should be less teacher led classes and there should be more investment in terms of technology in schools. »   On 9th January 2012 (Le Mauricien), we wrote further « the Honourable Minister can do to boost the CPE results and help the students with Additional Learning needs: Consolidating the use of ICT in lessons to help promote interactive learning. However, teachers must yet again be given appropriate training. »

It is therefore with much joy that we note that those proposals have been considered by the Honorable Minister.
 As read in Le Mauricien of 9th October 2012,

«  Est également proposé, un réseau avec le MIE, les psychologues, les travailleurs sociaux et d’autres ministères et organismes afin qu’une nouvelle approche soit progressivement mise en place pour répondre à de telles situations. Cette approche comprend le diagnostic précoce, le curriculum et la pédagogie appropriée, le reporting, la stratégie d’évaluation et le mécanisme de réinsertion.» Bravo Dr Bunwaree! Where there is a will, there is a way! Nevertheless, this process should have started at pre-primary level. This is when the real learning starts and it is much better to identify the issues at an earlier stage. Standard VI might be a bit too late as most pedagogues and educational experts would confirm.

Amidst all that, the Ralliement Citoyen pour La Patrie (RCP) comes forward with a few more proposals to the honourable Minister and we humbly hope that he will pay heed.

Special Needs help across the country

We propose that the facilities that have been established at Barkly Government School be extended nationally. Even though, most of it has been possible because of the generosity of Emtel Ltd, we appeal to other organisations, especially through the CSR funds for their cooperation when it comes to this issue. Every school have children with learning needs and these students must be taken care of as well.

We are aware that the country is facing tough economic times. However, the Rs 500 000 that were allocated to schools by the Minister of Finance in his last budget and to the extra Rs 300 000 that will be given out this year, must be used wisely. A survey (by the RCP) has shown that this money is being used to paint schools and replace curtains! Head teachers must be wiser and must try to invest this money where the children need more.

Recently, Pauline Davis from the faculty of Education (University of Manchester) and Lani Florian (University of Cambridge) confirmed “that the use of intensive interaction and/or a ‘sensory’ based approach are effective for children with communication and interaction difficulties associated with profound and multiple learning difficulties.” (Teaching Strategies and Approaches for Pupils with Special Educational Needs: A Scoping Study).  Therefore, investing in interactive learning resources would probably be wiser than tiling the floor! Some basic IT equipment would not go amiss either.  

There should be accountability for all these systems put in place. Very often, we hear of ‘proposals’ but not many of these strategies are implemented. It is imperative that the Ministry produces evaluation reports and publishes the outcomes, so that everyone is aware of the progress being made. We are yet to know what has happened with the Summer School and enhancement programme of the labour government.

A meal for every child in every school

This week marks the start of the CPE exams. However, it is sad to note that some students went through the past year without having had proper meals. Even though there are various NGOs that provide meals in ZEP schools, a few visits to some schools in the west of the country showed to us that some children, as young as 5 years old, were not being fed properly by the parents and they were coming to school without lunch packs.

In this day and age, this is just not acceptable! The RCP proposes that there is a meal option provided in every primary school around the country. This should be optional, based on the average income and demand of the parents. Each school should be equipped with kitchens, which will provide hot meals to students during lunch time.

Students whose parents are low earners will be exempted from the meal fees. It will also facilitate working parents who have no time to prepare lunches for their children. Mens sana in corpore sano (A sound mind in a healthy body). Well-fed children means improved learning abilities contributing to an improvement in results!

The above proposals cost money and we understand that these are tough times. The latest PRB report does not do any favours either. Primary teachers are still badly remunerated and those at the bottom of the scale are not better off after the report. We suggest that the government does more to narrow the gap between high and low earners.

Once again, there can be more accountability of the CSR funds and this money can be used for a greater cause. Teachers deserve more money just as much as the judiciary system deserves lower salaries with fewer fringe benefits! This is why at the RCP we propose that the Minister of Finance allocate more resources towards helping the future generation.  Every child matters!
Le Dimanche/L' Hebdo

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