Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Let kids read to succeed

Published:Friday | July 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM


IT WAS particularly gratifying to watch the Cliff Hughes programme on TV Sunday night. He spoke to some of the successful GSAT students from Naggo Head Primary School. This lifted my spirits from the depression I was feeling after observing some 18-year-olds decked out in expensive tuxedos and gowns, graduating from schools but not yet functionally literate or able to read a clock or use a telephone directory.

Naggo Head and Padmore are not 'name-brand' schools. They are not in 'name-brand' neighbourhoods. I think the principals - who deserve national honours - were successful in selling the idea and advantages of a quality education both for their children and themselves.

Parents need to read to their children, talk to them, and listen to them. Academic achievement drops sharply for children who watch more than 10 hours of TV each week. Parents need to establish a daily routine with scheduled homework time.

Many of the young mothers I see are suffering under a heavy blanket of depression and low self-esteem. They just do not see any help or hope.

Allow me to tell them about a woman called Sonia. Sonia had 24 siblings and spent most of her young life in foster homes. Illiterate, she married at 13 to a man who turned out to be a bigamist. By the time she found out and decided to leave him, she had two sons, neither of whom was doing well in school.

In addition to being backward, the younger son - Ben - also had a bad temper. She decided to try to do some of the things she saw done by the rich people she worked for as a maid. Her boys had to start reading two books from the library and write a report on what they read every week. She would assess these reports and the boys never had a clue that their mother never knew 'a' from 'bull foot'. TV time was limited.

Ben - whose last name is Carson - went from the bottom of the fifth grade to the top of the sixth grade in 18 months. He won a scholarship to Yale University, became head of paediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 33 - a first for a black man - and led the groundbreaking surgery to separate Siamese twins joined at the head, making him world famous. Dr Ben Carson is now a candidate for the US presidency.

Our present minister of education is the type of person who would give favourable consideration to a nationwide initiative to make it mandatory to have parents involved in their children's education and that sanctions be considered for the truant parents. This could turn out to be our biggest investment. And the IMF wouldn't care because it would not cost a cent.


Kingston 8