LETTER: Improving the education system
THE EDITOR, SIR:
With the GSAT coming up soon, I believe it an opportune time to discuss Jamaica's education system. The history of public education in the world was introduced as a consequence of the industrial revolution. People needed training to operate the new machinery and because of mechanisation, fewer workers were needed, hence time for school were permitted and necessary.
The world at the inception of the public school system was more authoritarian than now. Schools are not democratic and does not carter to the individual, but is one-size-fit-all.
The present education system has not evolved to meet the new social context. The modern world is more democratic and promotes individualism, while the formal school does not.
I have visited high school at several Caribbean countries and in the United States and have concluded that good school have good students. Teachers are a factor in educational process but the most important factors are the student's motivation to learn. Why are Chinese and Japanese students doing well on international exams? Do they have better teachers than other countries?
I suspect they have more discipline and motivated students as a consequence of a more authoritarian and less individualise culture. This culture is more suited for the present public education system. The main thing that needs to be done is to motivate students to want to learn, study hard and do all required work, and that is not happening.
To help difficult children, one must attack the problem from multiple fronts. Teacher training is good but will not fix the problem of the education system. It's like giving pain meds to an AIDS patient and believed they will be cured. Social re-engineering needs to be done. This was done after the American Revolution, Chinese Revolution, and Cuban Revolution etc. We must put a focus on creating good citizens that are productive and not just leave it up to parents, several of whom are dysfunctional adults.
We could keep doing the same things and expecting different results or we can make a concerted effort to change the status quo and improve the quality of life for all. Improving our education system cannot be separated from improving the society and from improving the individuals. To me, our actions to address the problem in our education system seem more symbolic than serious.
Brian E Plummer