Sep 07, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – School days are happy, happy days, like the singer says. There are some serious challenges to that, as we try to encourage the daily armies of students, parents, and educators across the country on the roadways for the new school year that just commenced, and in the classrooms of learning.
In contrast to the distant interior where there is more space than people, in the capital city Georgetown the relationship is reversed and it is tighter than a drum. But whether on roads or classrooms, there are some tense dynamics which all have to contend with, and work their way around in an increasingly tough combination of circumstances.
Previously, students and teachers had to focus on the elements of the so-called three ‘Rs’ which involved reading, writing, and reckoning (arithmetic). From those humble origins, the next stage in the educating and learning food chain advanced into the heavier world of systems and technology, and many subdivisions of some subjects taught in the runup to what is now called CSEC at the lower level, and then CAPE as powerful bigger brother. There have been challenges with these in Guyana, even as much as things are compressed in this writing. But there has been toiling, and there has been succeeding for the more hardworking and consistent among our young minds.
But, now in addition to grappling with Physics and Pavlov, then Darwin and the Duke of Windsor, students and teachers are compelled to deal with the three ‘Ts’, which stretch even the hardiest to the edges of their capabilities. The three Ts are traffic, torridness, and torture.We take them one by one as children and families returned to school to share a sense of the impacts that have been brutally felt in these first days of the new school year/
Traffic, as in to get to the classroom, has now been reduced to a masterpiece of inaction, given the abundance of vehicles, and relative scarcity of roads. The alarming reality of Guyana’s roads, with an eye on Georgetown and the East Bank and East Coast distils to this: more haste means more intervals of nonmovement. Too many cars and commuters and too much congestion make for a difficult beginning to each school day. This was the consistent story earlier in Week One, when there were bottlenecks all over.
Then there is the second T that now must be faced due to its nonstop finality: it is the torridness. The heat has always been heavy, for this is the Tropics, but not this heavy. The complaints and laments are numerous, and have a common characteristic: young citizens and older ones pushed to the brink. When the tightness of traffic and the torridness of the consuming heat are joined, they lead to the worst beginning imaginable for each daily trek. From the roads there is roasting, which leaves all wringing wet and weakened. This is the worst physical state to begin a school day for both the ones being taught, and those doing the teaching.
With an eye to the progress of the clock, and the arc of the sun, classrooms have transformed into living hells. Incidentally, this is not just in Guyana, but has been spoken of in, at least, one other part of the region. Classrooms have become virtual furnaces, and extremely challenging spaces for teaching. There is more than an educational concern as to the thorough and satisfactory delivery of the curriculum. For there is now what amounts to a possible health concern. Young children are distracted by the heat, and pregnant teachers could be putting themselves at risk, while older teachers are drained early of their energies. The point is that in the learning environment, all struggle, as they collide with the unrelenting heat in the classroom.
Fans help to a limited extent, but the overheated air is simply recirculated. Air conditioning would be an insurmountably expensive consideration all at one shot, but could be done in phases. Undoubtedly, this introduces energy bills into operating costs. The construction of new school buildings re: where they are located, how they are built and powered, could all make a difference. Meanwhile, the school apparatus swelters and shrinks, while learning plods forward.
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