Extra lessons outrage
There is strong objection from some parents and a word of caution from principals to teachers offering extra lessons for up to $1,500 per session.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resumption of the new academic year, a number of parents say that in order for their children to close the deficit of fewer classes since schools were shuttered in mid-March, teachers are proposing extra lessons at a cost very few of them can afford.
The parents who expressed concern asked to remain anonymous owing to the fear that their children may be penalised as a repercussion.
“Will the urge for money prevent them from teaching effectively in the classes so they can capitalise on extra lessons for pay?” asked a Montego Bay-based parent, adding that that would open a parallel track for teachers who are already being paid by the Government.
The parents say there should be a universal yardstick to measure teacher and student performance during online classes – a hazard that has emerged as stakeholders struggle to find firm footing amid structural inequities such as Internet access, geography, and poverty.
One parent argued that many parents were out of a job and struggling to survive, saying, “I am afraid that the poor students will be left behind.”
Those concerns were shared at a recent virtual Gleaner Editors’ Forum featuring president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, Jasford Gabriel; president of the Association of Principals and Vice-Principals, Lynton Weir; public relations officer at the National Secondary Students’ Council, Ree-Anna Robinson; and interim president of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, Mitsie Harris-Dillon.
Both Weir and Gabriel cautioned against ad hoc extra classes, advising that that framework should have the stamp of approval of key teacher stakeholder groups.
“While we understand that there is always the need for additional support and parents will be keen on engaging the particular expertise of teachers, I think it is very important that guidelines be given right across the board so that individual entities and schools are not able to abuse that kind of situation,” said Gabriel.
Harris-Dillon urged parents to become more involved in monitoring their children’s progress through curricula.
“It is going to be kind of difficult for parents to be looking over their shoulders because as parents, we do have to work, and not many of us are privileged to be working from home. But it is our responsibility to look over the assignments and the different type of schoolwork that our children would have been engaged in to ensure that whatever they are supposed to be learning, they are actually learning it,” she said.