Apr 10, 2016 News
by PAT DIAL
Education of children has always been one of the major consumer concerns. Today, more than in the past, parents are overwhelmed with anxieties as to the future of their children and this could be seen at the beginning of every school-year and at the time of examinations, especially the CXC Examinations.
The reasons for such anxieties are many, and parents and many educationists feel that the Guyanese Education System is at the crossroads.
Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, a scholar and brilliant academic in his own right, seems to have reached the same conclusion. He has accordingly appointed a Commission of Enquiry into the Education System and the public, including parents, educationists and academics have been invited to make their verbal or written submissions or both.
It is expected that the findings of the Commission would bring forward new and fresh perspectives and solutions which could constructively guide the Ministry of Education, public and private schools and institutions, as well as educationists and the public in general.
There are many factors in our present Education System which need to be corrected. One of the most obvious is the large number of subjects, mostly 20 or more which the brighter and more able children are encouraged to do at the CXC Examinations.
This is done largely to bring kudos to the school and to enter the competition of writing the most subjects. The welfare and interests of the children are not of primary importance in this exercise.
When a child does twenty or more subjects, it is quite obvious that he or she would have little time or energy to devote to any other activity than academic work. He or she does not play or participate in outdoor activities or even the various school clubs which could be engaged in organizing tours, or photography or the game of chess and so on.
A child in this situation would have had his or her childhood taken away and would often not be able to mix easily with or relate to others. He or she would very likely become introverted and would be at a serious disadvantage as he or she enters adulthood.
The parents of most such children are compelled to engage private tutors at fees for which they would have to make enormous sacrifices to meet. For one reason or another, the rest of the school inevitably and quickly becomes infected with this example and the majority of parents have to engage private tutors.
This system of private tuition outside of school hours is financially exploitative of parents and discriminates against poorer pupils and their parents.
Private lessons or tuition outside of school hours also demoralize and corrupt the teaching staff. Many teachers now do not teach the children in class but expect to teach the same children as private tutors after school hours. Many become so lazy and irresponsible that they come into class and spend the teaching periods looking at their Ipads or smart phones and ignore the students who behave as they like playing pranks on each other and generally enjoying the period. There is the factual story of an English teacher in one of the well-appointed private schools who never taught her classes but whose students, from year to year, did well at the CXC Examinations because the large majority of her class had private tutors.
That undeserving teacher claimed the successes at the CXC Examinations as her achievement. Indeed, when one or two parents attempted to speak to the Principal of the school of the teacher’s laxity, the Principal would show them the good examination results!
This system of private lessons which has overtaken the schools is harmful to the children, puts a heavy financial burden on the parents and demoralizes and corrupts the teachers. Among the worst of the harmful effects on pupils is that it prevents wide reading, thus depriving children of enjoying and assimilating the world’s great writers and their great formative thoughts. It also prevents students from being exposed to the great Music and Arts of the world.
In any case, it is only about eight CXC subjects – English, Mathematics, Science, Information Technology (IT) and a foreign language being the core subjects- which are necessary to help students further their education and careers or to secure employment.
Almost all the other subjects which had absorbed the student’s time, energy and childhood are of little relevance in the real world.
The Educational Commission would certainly make recommendations to correct the deficiencies of the Educational System including those mentioned but the public must participate and give their views and suggested solutions.
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