The Ministry of Education has been trying for the last 12 years to improve student performance at the primary school level. In the words of Education Minister Patrick Faber, “If every year your school comes with failing grades, then you are failing those children; the entire school community is failing those children.”

He seems to be putting full responsibility for the poor grades in reading and math squarely on the shoulders of the schools and the school community. .
. He has been spending millions of dollars on an Education Quality Improvement
Project paid for by the IDB, the Inter-American Development Bank, making key changes in the curriculum by QUADS, the Quality Assurance Development Services Unit and has even rolled out a nationwide project for teachers to get them more motivated and more efficient.
It’s too early to tell if the project for motivating teachers will work, but the efforts of QUADS has not worked, and the Education Equality Improvement Project (EQIP) is just an impressive conglomeration of words. Nothing has worked!

In the face of this dismal performance it is time for the Ministry to do some soul-searching. Get in the trenches with the teachers and see the problem from their perspective instead of trying to impose a solution from above.

Teachers will tell you that the key to education is reading, and our students on the average have not learned to read! Reading is the key that unlocks the mind to beauty and wonders of the world beyond. But to acquire that key our young people need to shed their fear or reading.

Fear of reading? Yes! Fear of reading! There is a word for it. It is called Anagnosmaphobia. This is caused by bad formation in the early grades. If children are not sure how to pronounce certain words , and in English there are many such words which do not follow the phonetic pattern, they
will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid those words. .
Proper formation in the early grades will show them how to meet such challenges and overcome them so that words no longer are a cause for
concern. .
Children in Belize don’t often get a chance to hear English spoken; not in the home and not even at school. Radio and TV are saturated with Creole, and while that is not a bad thing in itself, Creole has a tendency to squeeze English into a corner.

Proper formation in the early years of school must concentrate on overcoming the imbalance, so that students become comfortable in reading and speaking English. .
The Maya students of Cayo and Toledo do not have this problem. They read and speak English without stumbling over words. Their comprehension of English is better than most students of comparable age in the city. .
The reading books put out by QUADS and the Ministry of Education do not spend the time and effort needed to teach vowel sound formation, and this leads to uncertainty and fear of reading later on. Not only do the Ministry’s books not stress vowel formation. They go to great lengths to protect their turf, and banish the books that offer a better drilling in vowel formation .
Our Ministry of Education needs to eat some humble pie, and realize that it doesn’t know everything there is to know about teaching. In particular it does not know how to teach our Belizean young people how to read and understand what they read.
It is not the education community that is failing our children. The failure is coming from some stiff-necked people in the Ministry of Education. . .


Comments are closed.