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“The education system leaves much to be desired”
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“The education system leaves much to be desired”

Samantha KhanThe education system in Trinidad & Tobago emphasizes Mathematics and English, but Samantha Khan, 20, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Trincity, Trinidad, says that focus is at the expense of other studies that help create a well-rounded student. 

I find myself perpetually intrigued by the group of students I’ve been privileged enough to study with. 

They come from all corners of the globe, prompting a good deal of chatting about culture, history and politics. This brings the invaluable opportunity to learn of other places and perceptions.  But chatting with a group of friends the other day, I was introduced to the stark realisation that the education system in Trinidad and Tobago leaves much to be desired. 

Humanities, for example, offer a strong foundation in Caribbean history, politics and cultural forms, but little to no information on these topics in a global light. Perhaps it is unfair to imply that there is no opportunity for one to engage in global studies, since I’m sure that there are options. This does not, however, change the fact that the focus of the curricula in primary and secondary schools is the creation of a solid regional and national identity, to the detriment of a good grasp on topics with an international slant. While I definitely agree that there needs to be a strong emphasis on national and regional issues and topics, there is also the need to include a more international approach.  

This, of course, assumes that the subjects encompassed by the Humanities are given sufficient focus. What I find from close inspection of the primary school syllabus is that the priority is on Mathematics and English Language since those are the subjects tested for entry into high school. There is a distinct lack of focus on other subjects, with Social Studies and Science only taught until standard three and then, in most cases, abandoned so that Math and English can have full concentration. This is not altogether a bad thing, given that students are certainly more prepared for their Secondary Entrance Assessment exam due to the increased hours of concentration on the specific subject areas examined. 

Thus comes to light the issue of whether the Trinbagonian education system might be too exam-centric, concentrating very heavily on the subjects that are deemed important enough to be assessed but neglecting crucial areas of general knowledge. While some may argue that an individual’s general knowledge is his or her own responsibility, it is still of undeniable importance to encourage intellectual curiosity within the education system. Perhaps there could be more emphasis on reading international literature. Maybe there could be one hour a week of trivia on things that are not formally tested, such as important historical or philosophical figures, or even small sessions to give students a basic familiarity of foreign countries. 

But why is all this important? In response to that question, I pose another one: why isn’t it important? What are the objections to stimulating intellectual curiosity and moulding well-informed, global citizens? It can be argued that instruction in topics that are not of immediate relevance to a student is a waste of time and resources. We must, however, decide whether such militant practicality is worth the sacrifice of broader perspectives and more well-rounded students.

Photo – Port of Spain, Trinidad

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About me:

“Hello! I’m a student from Trincity, Trinidad, and I love to write, read and sometimes draw. I would live in the cinema if I had the choice. I enjoy learning about as many different cultures as I possibly can.

“My dream is to become a novelist and through that, to challenge the stereotypes and constraints of society, as well as to provide thought-provoking material to shed new light on life itself. I believe that if we all shine a little light into the world, it will inevitably become a brighter place.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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