school boards want more counselors


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SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS speaking at a meeting of a joint select committee on the effects of blended learning called for more student counselors, saying the Student Support Services Division (SSSD) was straining while addressing student issues during covid19.

Sanatan Sharma Maha Sabha Education Council Members, TT Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Presbyterian Primary Schools, Baptists, St Joseph Cluny, ASJA, Anglican and Presbyterian High Schools met with JSC President Senator Paul on Wednesday Richards.

They evaluated the effects of the blended learning system, developed after covid19 hit TT in March 2020.

Presbyterian Primary School Board General Secretary Keeta K Maharaj, in response to a question from Paul Richards, said that although SSSD officers are assigned to schools, they are mainly placed in clusters, so that a a small group of counselors deals with the problems of several schools. .

“Students are facing behavioral issues, there are students with socio-economic difficulties, students who are not supervised, children showing signs of stress and those who simply cannot be taken care of.” , said Maharaj. “The numbers we are given do not work. Some cannot be visited unless you go to the police and say, “We haven’t seen these students. There aren’t a very large number (of missing students) but just one is enough for this sort of thing.

Debra East, acting secretary of the St Joseph Cluny board of directors, said meeting deadlines was the main problem.

“We can say that the SSS has responded well,” East said. “They also set up life skills sessions, workshops and seminars for students.

“Social workers will respond, but sometimes it takes a very long time to meet the student – sometimes it takes a week. By the time they get to the students, there have been other interventions.

Teaching council officials have suggested either there should be more councilors or the SSSD handful should run fewer schools.

The challenges of the SSSD were not the only issue raised by the boards. They also called for filling middle management positions, better investment in practical work and assessment modules, and better management of educational kits for children who do not have access to online courses. Access to devices and connectivity continue to be a barrier to online courses.

Richards, sharing statistics from the Department of Education, said that between March and December of last year, only 35.3 percent of high school students and 34.1 percent of elementary school students had an internet connection. reliable, and only 35.3 percent of high school students, and 33.4 percent of elementary school students had access to devices. Richards added that 39,861 elementary school students, 6,909 high school students and 2,109 ECCE students were unable to attend or access online classes.

Those numbers have since changed, officials said, and between 70 and 90 percent of students now have access to the devices.

School board representatives said government support in this regard was weak, with some schools receiving up to four devices for students, while others, such as SDMS schools, received none.

But support from the private sector as well as alumni and other stakeholders has been able to fill the gaps somewhat.