THE EDITOR, Sir:
Recently, the minister of education, the Reverend Ronald Thwaites, lent his support for performance-based pay for teachers in Jamaica. While not challenging his view, I would like Jamaicans to ponder on the myriad problems facing our schools.
Teacher-student ratio in our classrooms is an area of concern. It is very difficult for a teacher to provide personalised/individualised attention to a class of 40 students in a lesson. This is a challenge which needs to be addressed.
There are schools whose libraries are replete with outdated books, and whose laboratories are a travesty of what they ought to be. In such places, the apparatuses are not efficient. This situation may impede the teaching and learning process, and lead to poor student performance.
It is a fact that many teachers are not deeply knowledgeable of the learning disabilities and mental disorders being suffered by some schoolchildren. Hence, their inability to manage students with autism, attention deficiency disorder, hyperactive disorder, dyslexia, speech and hearing impairment. This problem is compounded by the absence of educational psychologists, speech therapists and reading specialists in most schools.
Many parents do not provide reinforcement to the academic offerings of our schools in the sense that they do not read to their children or ensure that they do homework. When parents/guardians show no interest in children's education, they (the adults) tacitly encourage in the latter's (children) nonchalance towards academics.
Our children are bombarded with indecent and degrading music which takes their minds away from academics. This may result in poor academic performance. It may be a Herculean task for teachers to redirect the attention of such students.
Sometimes teachers spend a lot of time dealing with indiscipline to the extent that the time for academic instruction is encroached on.
Performance-based pay alone cannot achieve the goal of improving the quality of education in Jamaica!
Claremont, St Ann