Education Minister David Andrew has cited the introduction of Grenadian history in schools this year as a major initiative that was being undertaken by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell.
Speaking on the NDC Heartbeat program on Sunday with host Terry Forrester, the senior government minister noted that the subject will utilize a book written by local author Dr. Nicole Phillip-Dowe.
He said the book was approved by the History and Social Science curriculum officers in the Ministry of Education and was scheduled to be launched earlier in the week.
Minister Andrew gave assurances that by September, students in the lower secondary and upper primary schools should be introduced to the book which comes at a very good time as Grenada gets ready to celebrate 50 years of Independence in February 2024.
“We hope that in doing that, more of our Grenadian citizenry and our students in particular will understand what it means to be a Grenadian, will understand the journey that we have had as a people,” he remarked.
Minister Andrew also disclosed that about 10 primary schools were selected for the re-introduction of Spanish in the school system.
He told the program host that one of the reasons for the reintroduction of Spanish is due to the fact that Grenada has a dependence on tourism as a major plank of its economic development.
“It is fitting that our education system emphasises a second language so that we can capitalise more on the tourism product and exploit it better,” he said.
“We know that the brain is better wired to acquire language at an early age and so we are convinced that if we introduce a second language or a third, there is likelihood that they would take it a lot better, a lot faster than waiting till they’re 12 or 13 at the secondary level to introduce it,” he added.
The Education Minister also touched on some of the initiatives that can be expected by students for the Michaelmas term 2023 and looked back at some of the accomplishments made in the government’s first year in office.
He stated that paying back the docked salaries of teachers and public officers was part of the government initiative and that even the reinstated pension for public officers took place because of the value placed on education, particularly public officers, by Congress.
“That was a deliberate act because we understand that if we are going to move education, we cannot have the key stakeholders and players in education, we cannot hold them in their throats and we cannot entertain adversarial climates over lengthy periods of time,” he said.
This was a clear reference to the salaries that were taken away from striking public sector employees including teachers under the previous New National Party (NNP) government of then Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in 2018 which affected over 1,500 public servants.
“Things like the paying of the docked salary we just take them as a simple and simplistic act of just repaying salaries because we might say it was wrong to have taken it or by saying it was inappropriate,” he remarked.
The Minister of Education reminded the host that in the government’s first year in office, the administration removed the games fee, lab fee, security fee that the students were supposed to pay each term at secondary and primary schools.
He stressed that this was done to make education more accessible to the population.
“We are not trying to do everything all at once because we are making incremental steps and we want to make sure we have economic support to withstand the steps that we take. So we are doing so responsibly,” he said.
Minister Andrew also addressed the introduction of a subvention for the preschoolers being a reflection of how crucial the Ministry of Education sees pre-school education.
He stated that by providing this kind of support at the early stage, it helps lessen the lack of literacy and numeracy among secondary school students.
“We believe that if we put the right degree of technical expertise at that level, we can eliminate most of the problems that we try to grapple with later down in the education system.”