Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Colin McDonald | Resist Corcho's Calabar ultimatum

Published:Friday | August 31, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Education Minister Ruel Reid, kindly tell Albert Corcho, a fine principal by all reports, and the board of Calabar High School, that they are unequivocally wrong in their policy of barring students with less than a 60 per cent average from entering fifth form.

This academic gentrification of our secondary education has got totally out of hand - for the sake of a grade average or the average grade on CSEC for the school - in the mad rush to boast of being among highest-ranking academic secondary institutions in the country.

This is an abuse of authority, much more so of an institution that needs and gets public tax dollars to run it. No longer can we keep quiet. Education is not just about the grade on the paper; it is about the development of the person; and even if a child is deemed disruptive, we have no right to cast him aside in order to achieve a subjective grade to be considered worthy of any school.

Our education system is destroying our country's potential for development by stigmatising our human resources - just because by age 17 they cannot get certain grades.

The overwhelming research of constructivist theorists Vygotsky, Piaget, Dewey and Bruner posits that learning curves are not standard, and it is a total fallacy to demand such a burden of any child.

 

Violation of rights

 

Calabar and every other secondary school should be demanded to concentrate on developing civil human beings even as they pursue their academic potential. If the Government of Jamaica allows this, it will be a violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Articles 4, 5, 28 and 29 are of particular interest that should be read and digested by Calabar's principal, school board and the education officers at the Ministry of Education.

The time is nigh that the ministry will be the final arbiter of approval of any change in school policy, and not parents being sent letters that the ministry will hear about new policy and then scramble to fix. There must be consistency and accountability by our school administrators to those of us who fund the country's education.

Boards should help manage our school, not set education policy that may or may not disenfranchise our children. Kensington Primary is in the international news - Washington Post (29/8/2018) for the same kind of subjective https://www.msn.com/en-xl/latinamerica/latinamerica-life-arts/in-jamaica... .

I, at age 16, would have been kicked out of Calabar with this policy. I had a hard time cracking 45 per cent. Thankfully, my secondary-school alma mater, whose motto is 'Prayer and Work Conquer All', persisted with me, and helped me become the man I am today - an upstanding citizen, a businessman, a contributor to my country with a degree, to boot.

- Colin McDonald is CEO and managing director of Our Story Tours. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and ourstorytours@gmail.com.