Letter of the Day: Teachers extorting, scaring young graduates
THE EDITOR, Sir:
On Wednesday, the janitor/ maintenance man was absent from work at the apartment complex where we had a major water problem. On Thursday morning, he explained that he had to attend his daughter's graduation. We were amazed to learn his daughter was six years old and was moving from the basic school section to the primary school area on the same compound.
He said he had to pay $4,000 for the graduation package. His daughter was bedecked, like the others in her class, in gown, cap and tassel, and corsage. He said if he did not pay and attend the graduation ceremony, his daughter would be put in the 'dunce class'.
The teacher had earlier asked for $2,500 for formal 'dinner' money, but he knew his daughter could not even finish one of the dumplings on her dinner plate, much more to eat $2,500 worth of food. His daughter wept bitterly for fear of going into the dunce class.
The school is now asking for $3,000 for three weeks' tuition for summer school, and he's glad he can pay weekly, for if she does not attend, she will be put in the dunce class when school reopens in September.
Mr Editor, it's tough going for this young man and others like him. He's in his early 30s, and has a wife who does garment repair by hand. He has two children. He lives on leased land in his self-built, plyboard house and takes home $14,000 every fortnight. He does not want his child to be put in the dunce class.
Another parent who works as a day worker said she paid $5,000 for her son to 'graduate' from the basic school department of the same all-age school.
'Him look good in de gown an' de cap and de flowers on him shoulder," she said. She also paid $3,000 for graduation 'dinner', for she didn't want the child to be put in dunce class. She now pays $1,000 a week for summer classes and she, too, says, "They'll put him in the dunce class if we don't pay."
Mr Editor, I've heard the minister of education talk against this kind of exploitation, but some teachers continue to make a mockery of the graduation exercise. They frighten and threaten both parents and small children by the long-abandoned word 'dunce' in order to hustle at their so-called fundraising schemes. I wish they'd go back to the simple school function called prize-giving.