Parents still unhappy with two-shift system
The two-shift system remains under heavy criticism by parents who complain about the reduced teaching time and extra-curricular activities that their children are exposed to on a daily basis.
In fact, with the upsurge in crime and violence in western Jamaica, many parents say that they are becoming more concerned about the increased danger to their children attending primary and secondary institutions that are still on the shift system.
"I prefer the one-shift system because I don't think they are getting enough interacting hours for schoolwork in the classroom," said Renita Lowe, whose daughter is in grade five on the afternoon shift at the Unity Primary School in Westmoreland.
"And when you consider the violence, sometimes these children are on the road late and can be exposed to it. I don't like to see them on the road in the late hours, sometimes after 6:00 p.m.," she said.
Another mother, Lurlene Beckford, believes that children, particularly those on the afternoon shift, are at increased risk. Her son is in grade 11 at the St James High School, which is currently the only double-shift school in the parish.
"In the evenings after school is over, you have some children who live far but can't get any taxi to go home, and sometimes they are on the road at 8 o'clock and 10 o'clock, and because they can get any taxi, they can be led astray to do bad things in the meantime," said Beckford.
MORE TEACHING HOURS
The parents say that they are calling for more teaching hours as not every parent can afford to send his children to extra classes. They also contend that not every student is equipped to grasp the lessons in the short amount of time allocated to each topic and that this can result in poor performance in assessments.
"I don't think they (students) are being taught enough work in that period of time," said Abbagale Yates, whose daughter is in grade four at Savanna-la-Mar Primary, another school on the shift system in Westmoreland.
"We need schools that start at, say, 8 o'clock in the morning and dismiss around 3 p.m. Then we will see how better it will be for students to have more time to do their schoolwork, but right now, I don't think much is being done on the shift system."