Empower schools, zone districts
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites is on the right track when he seeks to restrict the practice of recruiting athletes, a strategy used by so many schools to build good teams for various sports competitions.
It is absurd to have a situation where a child scores as high as 70 per cent in the Grade Six Achievement Test and is unable to attend a school down the road to which he can walk. At the sixth-form level, such schools will refuse entry to their own students who got a grade two in a subject. All this is being done to make space for the potential scholarship winner from across the island or the inner city where they are much closer to other schools that regularly produce outstanding scholars.
We need to stop talking about students not being good enough to attend certain schools and start asking why such schools are not good enough to educate these students.
Thwaites has made some moves in the right direction, such as the emphasis on early-childhood education, but there seems to be an entrenched reluctance to tackle some of the more fundamental problems that have been the basis of underperformance.
In my view, the main one is the absence of support systems that ensure that students' time is adequately supervised beyond the classroom.
SERIOUS DEBATE NEEDED
We need to have a serious debate about how we should place students in our high schools. The argument often put forward about giving parents a choice is illogical, since most people do not get to choose where they want to attend school. The moment that we place a child in any school, on whatever basis, we are automatically denying the place to some other child. The only relevant question, therefore, is what criteria we should use in placing him or her.
I have always argued that the main criterion ought to be which school would be the most convenient in allowing parents, students and teachers to work together for the good of the student. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will end by saying that, at the centre of this and all other controversies surrounding education is the need to zone our schools and start placing students in schools based primarily on where they live.
R. HOWARD THOMPSON