I read Mr. Suseran’s letter of 4th December in which he reminded us about the problems that the education system faces. He even suggested that police officers be in close proximity to schools in order to help address some of the disturbances caused by students.
While this will only address the manifestations, the innate desire to be disruptive must be addressed by proper programmes in the entire education system.
I would like to adumbrate some of these areas that give rise to some of these issues.
Universal Secondary Education: This simply does not mean that every child must be exposed to academics, fully, at the secondary level. We all know that this in itself is a foolish assumption that every child is academically inclined.
The age twelve grading of students had been adequately addressed when schools catering for the child’s aptitude were established.
Now, because the child is forced to sit in the academic stream in the secondary school and cannot grasp like the rest of the class, he/she becomes disillusioned and disruptive. He/she achieves nothing of worth and the teachers have difficulty in dealing with disruptive adolescents.
Teachers complain that the education officers are sending children who cannot read, write or count for them (the teachers) to make into scholars.
These are the quality of children who fight, steal, curse and are generally disruptive in school.
These are the quality of children who should be taught skills in trade, who should be schooled in masonry, joinery, agriculture, woodwork, needlework, home economics and the like. These children should be gainfully learning in schools such as the Community High Schools which are being hurriedly phased out.
Education, as we know it, is quickly losing its value. Education is not only academics which we are flaunting by our passes at CXC and CAPE.
Why are we not giving the same prominence when our children do well in the non-academic field?
Primary schools with Secondary Tops: Look at our primary schools with secondary tops. Many of these were created because no place is available in the secondary schools, these children would have performed poorly at the Grade Six assessment.
And most of these primary schools with the secondary tops do not have the relevant texts, the teachers are not trained to teach at the secondary levels, and there is no vocational subjects in which the children can be engaged.
What the system is effectively doing is frustrating the children who have a proclivity for non-academic learning. This should have started immediately after primary schooling, and those who are late developers can still have a chance to follow the academic stream.
I am loathe to say that the system is in disarray with the introduction of the Basic Competency Certificate Programme or BCCP (now has a new name) in some schools.
Those who are responsible for directing our education have missed their focus. It is no wonder that we are having idle youths without skills, using weapons and preying on people.
Our system has failed them miserably. I can’t imagine five years hence when we will have two thousand children with ten grade one passes and sixty thousand who need a skill to make an honest living but the system does not provide for them.
Even some of those who will man the police offices in schools will have graduated in the failed system.
Our education must be geared to put back the types of schools in the system to address this vexing situation of our children.
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