Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Rayon Simpson | Business as usual? - Poor attendance record can hurt grades

Published:Wednesday | July 19, 2017 | 7:00 AM

There has been much to say about education, with specific reference to attendance and punctuality in the last few weeks, emanating from The Gleaner articles of June 12 and 18, respectively. I would like to add my voice to the narrative, given my role in the debacle.

We simply cannot sit down and play politics and procrastinate about matters having to do with education, discipline and youth development.

The 'pickney' who was galloping 'round di' campus, hardly coming to school or only coming for half-day in 2015 is graduating this year. S/he is perhaps graduating without a single subject.

They are joining the unemployment line and the 95 per cent of school-leavers who do not transition to tertiary education in Jamaica.

 

ACTION NEEDED

 

We need to take immediate, decisive and practical actions as a first treatment in order to shape up and regularise an ailing problem.

The issue with underperformance will never be fixed with mass CSEC revision classes just before exams.

We MUST begin to see the direct link among:

1. Punctuality for school and classes.

2. Regular and above-average attendance.

3. Curricular implementation.

4. Improved academic performance.

Try as you may, you will NEVER find a single school that is doing very well, academically, but has a less than 85 per cent attendance and/or punctuality rating.

There are far too many such schools in Jamaica, however. We all know them. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information knows about them because it collects attendance and punctuality data each month. The traditional methods to treat with unpunctuality and irregular attendance have failed. The United Kingdom has come to this realisation recently (after Belmont Academy and St Andrew Technical, of course).

We know too well that a number of our students only receive parenting when they are at school. We know only too well that schools that are doing well cannot, and should not, depend solely on the ministry.

We know only too well that sometimes when you write to the ministry, you never ever receive a response.

We know only too well that many children leave our school spaces and are recruited as hardcore criminals each year. We know that the majority of the killers roaming the streets aren't in their 30s (many are juveniles, teenagers and late adolescents).

Can it be business as usual?

- Rayon Simpson is principal of St Andrew Technical High School, on secondment from Belmont Academy. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.