Sun | Jul 22, 2018

JTA president concerned about absenteeism in schools

Published:Saturday | February 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Jamaica Teachers’ Association president, Howard Isaacs.

A failure on the part of parents to provide guidance, and their unwillingness to access social services available to needy students are factors Howard Isaacs, president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, said are stifling efforts to see a significant reduction in the level of absenteeism in schools.

Isaacs said that while he was not able to provide statistics, his observation and interaction with various stakeholders in the sector is showing that up to last year, the issue was still of great concern.

Thirteen-year-old Roshane Smith, a student of Denhan Town High School who was recently murdered and whose body was found on Eve Lane near Heroes Circle in downtown Kingston with hands bound and gunshot wounds to the head, was also noted to be frequently absent from school.

... Don't let poverty keep you back, Isaacs tells students

Howard Isaacs, president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, told The Gleaner that while he was not disputing that many Jamaicans face extreme poverty, the fact was that a number of private and public organisations have implemented various feeding programmes to help students, including the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education. He urged those in need to take advantage of those initiatives.

"Poverty, to some extent, is a factor, but having grown up in the country, we were also poor, but that didn't prevent us from going to school. Poverty does play a part, but, from where I sit, it is not necessarily the inability to provide but more so what poverty leads to and the social issues," he said.

"Even though we were poor back in the day, we weren't called upon to be involved in activities to earn money. Parents took on that responsibility. We did provide some assistance, but the culture then supported us doing what is required before going to school. So, for example, having grown up in a farming community, we had to milk the cow and carry out the goat before going to school, and in the evening, we would do same, but we would still be in school."


Collaborative efforts


He noted that with collaborative efforts and parents especially playing their roles, there should be improvement in the future.

"Some impact is taking place, but that wholesome change that you would want, it's not happening as how you would have wanted it to happen. There is so much more support in the system, but in the same breath, there is the quick-rich culture, the 'bling' culture and the scam culture, where, basically, persons can receive well-being by participating in activities that are not legal," Isaacs stated.