Education secretary: New Tobago-centric curriculum by 2025

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: THA Education Secretary Zorisha Hackett –

THE Division of Education, Research and Technology has set-up a 12-member committee to help formulate a Tobago-centric curriculum with the aim of “preserving Tobago’s rich cultural heritage while simultaneously equipping students with the competencies essential for global success.”

Education Secretary Zorisha Hackett told Newsday on May 1 that the curriculum will be implemented in pre-schools, primary schools and secondary schools from September 2025.

A media release from the division on April 30 said the committee members received their instruments of appointments on April 11. Hackett said the committee, which was chosen after open nominations, has met twice already.

The committee is being chaired by the division’s technical advisor Ann Second with Nadine John-St Rose, curriculum co-ordinator, division, as deputy chairman. Sanisha Ali, advisor to the secretary, will be secretary of the committee.

Among the focus areas include financial literacy and entrepreneurship; food security; geography and ecology; health and wellness; history and politics and civics; innovation and technology; life skills; linguistics; music, culture and arts; sustainable development; tourism and culture; technical vocational education and training.

Asked whether the division was hoping to equip Tobago’s next generation to capitalise on greater autonomy if and when it is given, Hackett said, “That is definitely the intention.

“This limited curriculum that is there in the primary school, the focus is only on writing an SEA examination. They get into secondary school and they are not ready for that transformative curriculum that is in itself deficient for you to become a positively contributing citizen not only of TT but of the globe.”

She said students are not being taught practical skills, to their detriment.

“They’re coming out of schools unable to manage their lives, manage money, to be ambassadors of the island, to know their history, their culture – that’s not the type of citizens we want.”

She said a pilot project is expected to start from January to March 2025 at two early childhood care centres, two primary schools and two secondary schools.

“Then we come back to the drawing board, we tweak, we finalise, we present to the public, do public consultations and sensitisation sessions with the different levels.”

Hackett is expected to meet Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly on Friday to inform her of the division’s plans.

“These are areas that we think are lacking and need to be a part of the curriculum if we’re really serious about education.

The committee will conduct research to determine relevant content for integration into the curriculum and will convene twice monthly for three months.

At the end of the three months, a second committee will be formed to construct the final Tobago-centric Curriculum Policy.

Asked to weigh in on the initiative, TTUTA Tobago Officer Bradon Roberts said he has already relayed his concerns to the division.

“I believe they are going too deep with it. It does not give us the opportunity to get something going in the near future and see how it’s going.”

He said he would have preferred a schematic approach with a tweak to the delivery of the current curriculum, instead of changing it entirely.

“We teach raw content. We teach a formula – but how does this formula apply to me going to the grocery or planting my garden?”

He said students need to get a better appreciation of how the current curriculum affects their lives.

However, Roberts said he would not be too critical of the initiative and hopes it brings better quality of education to Tobago.

He said there would need to be significant training and realignment for the delivery of the new curriculum.