Nov 24, 2020 Letters
Over time, there have been numerous complaints about the quality of students that pass out from our schools. Too many are deficient in Mathematics, English, Comprehension and ability to interpret. It is my humble opinion that we need to be more creative as we approach the education of our children. We should consider that this is the age of cyberspace.
I have an interest in the way education is organized and I will make a few comments so that the discussions can commence.
Children enter the secondary school system having been grilled to pass the multiple-choice examinations. Many enter Grade Seven (Form One), poor in reading and comprehension.
I recall when I was studying for Common Entrance, we had a heavy dose of Comprehension, Reasoning, and Arithmetic. These subjects stimulated and developed the reasoning ability of students. Mathematics trains the child to be logical. It’s my opinion that the Mathematics problem, which we solved at common entrance would be problematic for even the Grade Nine students of today.
I have no idea why it is necessary for a child at an early age to accumulate so much data and if I may take the liberty, irrelevant at that time especially since all of this data can be easily obtained from Google. The child needs to be trained to think, to reason, to comprehend and to interpret.
It seems we cannot eliminate the Common Entrance examinations immediately but we should commence a policy debate.
Performance in Mathematics and English is generally poor. Is this unexpected? If the child cannot read properly, cannot comprehend and interpret how can he/she perform well in Mathematics?
Let’s look at Grade Seven – 14 subjects and the child commences with the deficiencies, which I mentioned. They trek to school with heavy bags. Some develop back problems.
Grade Seven should not have more than seven subjects with a heavy dose of Mathematics, English, Comprehension, and Summary Writing (Precίs). Other subjects can include Geography, Social Studies, and History. There should be periods set aside for a combination of First Aid, Traffic, etc.
We keep complaining about poor performance in Mathematics and English but what are we doing about this? First, more periods should be time tabled for these subjects. Each class must have two teachers for Mathematics and English so that students can be given the attention, which they need.
There is the main teacher and the secondary teacher. I am aware of a possible paucity of skilled Mathematics and English teachers. Use the video and have the two teachers move around the class giving individual attention. Train the minds. Addition of a list of numbers, mental arithmetic, and no calculators, etc.
Grades Seven and Eight (Forms One and Two) must have the best teachers. This is the initial training ground. It is my opinion that by the time the child reaches the final term of the Grade Nine (Third Form) that child should be able to self-study and only depend on the teacher for guidance (I have the experience where UG students try to copy word for word what the lecturer is saying and sometimes stop him and ask him to repeat so they could write it all down. They cannot listen and extract).
I recall in my days, we would read the examples, study and then attempt quite successfully the exercises, sometimes with some guidance. Some Grade Ten (Fourth Form) self-study with guidance, with the student being able to progress within their capabilities, and desires. Some will move ahead faster than others.
We need to re-examine the student/staff quota. I think it should be 25 students to one teacher. This militates areas where the student population is small and forces bigger classes in others. One teacher is placed to teach more than one classes. This is unfair to the students in those areas.
Automatic promotion ought to cease. Have summer classes to upgrade students. Sorting of students is necessary so that teaching can be directed in keeping with the level of the child’s development. Some are slow learners.
Cease retirement of teachers at age 55 years. We are sending home the experienced teachers. Reduce the number of Education Officers. I did not see them in schools except once in a while. I have seen schools in deplorable conditions and yards unkempt so I do not know what they are overlooking. Put them into the classrooms.
It took me 25 minutes to put down these ideas. Maybe a number of them do not make sense but hopefully, this letter can serve as a basis for continued discussions.
However, two last comments i.e. our university must be restructured to suit our development needs…maybe more scholarships for engineers and mathematics, etc.
And, please, I used to sing “Born in the land” and other patriotic songs lustily while I also had to sing “God save the Queen”, songs like “We want to build this land that belongs to we” and “Let us cooperate for Guyana”.
Today, we have our own National Anthem but our children do not even know these lovely patriotic songs. These songs would help to build patriotic consciousness, which could serve to reduce race consciousness.
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