Mon | Dec 11, 2017

JaRistotle’s Jottings | Taking tales out of school

Published:Thursday | October 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM

There are a number of occasions throughout the year when we parents know our pockets are going to burn: birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and back-to-school intervals. We are now one month into the new school year, an apt time for me to lament on certain issues concerning our education system and school practices. I will try not to be cRuel.

When I was in primary school, we had few books to use, year after year, right through to Common Entrance Exams. Dem books went through nuff hands a la hand-me-downs. No fancy workbooks like what we have now, but simple books with assignments which we had to write in our exercise books.

 

Book Bazaar

 

Nowadays the booklist for each grade reads like a grocery list. Workbook fi dis, textbook fi dat. And every year the list changes, so that even the textbooks become obsolete after one year. At the end of last year when I audited my children's workbooks, I realised that they only completed a fraction of the exercises in each book; the rest was a waste - of paper, time and money.

My conclusion: business. No repetition of books, no hand-me-downs, just money dem a defend.

How the heck do we expect poor people who ah struggle fi send dem pickney through school fi manage? People, ah nuh university di pickney dem ah go, ah primary-level education wi a talk bout! There is no need to have this high turnover of books year-on-year. There are good books to be had, just keep it to a minimum. Education should not be a vehicle for reckless profit at the expense of students. Mr Minister - over to you.

 

All About Statistics

 

When I was attending high school, it was a big thing to do O'level exams while in fourth form. Not so today, dem pickney yah bright so till. Fact is, a lot of them do extra lessons and sit their CSEC exams privately while still in fourth form, and get excellent results. But then the selfish attitude of some schools is that even the 'A' students must sit the same exams once again under the aegis of the school, just so that the schools' statistics can be enhanced. There is no consideration for the cost to be incurred, or to the unnecessary burden on the student. It is a ludicrous practice - one which must be scrapped. Schools must be about students learning and achieving, not schools show-boating.

 

Sports

 

The Manning and DaCosta cups are currently being contested by schoolboy football teams across the country. Since the beginning of September, some schools have already played seven matches, basically averaging two games per week! And we are yet to speak about the other competitions: Walker Cup, Ben Francis Trophy, FLOW Super Cup and Olivier Shield. We also need to remember that next term is the track and field season, culminating in the annual flagship Boys and Girls' Championships. When do these schoolboys find time to study? I wonder what their grade point averages are.

I am very concerned about the pressure being placed on these youngsters. We have experienced tragedies on the field in recent years, and yet there does not seem to be any letting up. 'Play ball!' is the cry, however, when a player is seriously injured, the only thing to fall back on is a good education. I wonder if there are any competition rules that speak to players maintaining a minimum grade point average in order to remain eligible to play in any of these competitions.

Sport is an important part of the school curriculum, as are sporting competitions. However, there should be balance, ever bearing in mind that schools are institutions of learning, and their most important assets and customers are the students. Their primary reason for attending school is to learn, to get an education.

It is no secret that many of our finest schoolboy athletes, whether in football or track and field, are falling short in academic performance. I get the distinct impression that little or no primacy is being placed on academic performance as a precursor to representing some schools in sports, and that the issue is prevalent in even the 'big-name' traditional high schools.

Minister Reid, attention please!

Class over.

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