Residents and, especially, educators are rubbishing claims by the Cabinet that its vaccination mandate is responsible for the high percentage of passes in this year’s Grade Six National Assessments.
On Thursday, The Cabinet Notes reported that the Executive is taking credit for the students’ performance, linking “the vaccine mandates which compelled Government workers, students and teachers to vaccinate against COVID-19 … [to] the very high passes in the Common Entrance Exams.”
“While Antigua and Barbuda received 89% passes, another Caribbean country that did not compel mandates received 39% pass,” the Cabinet Notes boast.
However, a veteran educator who notes her almost 40 years in the system, tells REAL News she is having none of it.
“This assumption is far-fetched at best,” she says of the Cabinet’s statement, “since students performed similarly throughout the years.
“Praise can’t be attributed to a vaccine when parents, students and – most of all – teachers worked tirelessly to complete accurate SBAs and revise for their examinations,” she says indignantly.
She also notes the acknowledgment from a top-performing school that it had “worked extra hard with this set,” underscoring the role that educators played in its pupils’ excellent results.
The Cabinet is also patting itself on the back, saying “there was no COVID outbreak in any school and young students had more contact time with teachers in Antigua.”
But the educator dismisses that statement, too, as self-praise. She explains that the teachers, themselves, “saw the need for added contact time and went above and beyond to prepare their students.”
The veteran educator also invites the Cabinet to look deeper than it appears to be doing when it makes comparisons. “Students in other countries have myriad issues which may have affected their performances on their countries’ Grade Six Assessment,” she says.
Parents, too, are weighing in on the Cabinet’s self-congratulation.
They remind REAL News of the number of times schools were closed or classes dismissed because of COVID-19 infections, and some rehashed the “very real struggle” of both parents and teachers to implement the remote-learning measures devised by the Ministry of Education.
“Half the time, the Internet was not working, even in the schools. Half the students did not have Internet at home. Half the students did not even have devices – no smartphone, no laptop, no E-book!” an upset mother says.
Another father is reminding the Cabinet that it was willing, during the first term of the school year, to “throw the children out of school because they were not vaccinated. They even refused to pay the teachers who didn’t take the vaccine. And now they want to take credit? They have no shame!” he says.
Following the vaccine mandate for eligible school children, last year, parents and students staged a picket outside the Ministry of Education to demand that all students be allowed into the classroom. Shortly after, that mandate was rolled back.
Given the litany of complaints about the Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, the educator says, “The efficacy of the vaccine is not in judgment … the actions of our Government are.”