Sun | May 31, 2020

Time to abolish high-school apartheid

Published:Monday | August 19, 2019 | 12:12 AM


Having read Mark Malabver’s article on ‘Critical theory, social justice and the Jamaican education system’ (Sunday Gleaner, August 18, 2019), it is disheartening to know that after more than 20 years of reclassifying Jamaica’s comprehensive and secondary schools, they are still referred to as upgraded high schools. Use of the two-tier classification – traditional high and upgraded high – is a way of subtly identifying the schools as high-performing and low-performing, which is discriminatory!

All these high schools follow the same curriculum so that students can be prepared to sit the exit examination at the end of their tenure. Additionally, all these schools are required by the Ministry of Education to perform at the required level, despite students being creamed off to the traditional high schools, while upgraded schools are populated with subpar students.

Since all schools are assessed the same way, despite the entry level of the students, the Ministry of Education should ensure that the schools, regardless of name, are equitably populated and funded.

The labelling of schools as ‘traditional’ and ‘upgraded’ should be abandoned. Many of these students who experience discrimination during their school years enter society with an inferiority complex when they are deprived of employment.

How, then, are we, as a society, expected to end the grudge that permeates the society when children are taught to resent certain people? Schools are supposed to be institutions that help shape character – and, indeed, they do. However, how is it possible for a school to shape good character when some students are made to feel that they are not as important as others?