THE EDITOR, Sir:
"It's been a long time coming, but we have to get back to the basics of life" are the words that came to mind as I ruminated on the excerpts of a recent speech given by Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites.
He was seemingly disheartened by our recent CSEC results. The words echoed passionately in my home: "Will someone please tell them that it starts with phonics? When are they going to get it right?"
The plea came from the former headmistress, as well as a teacher of the Apostolic Worship Centre Kindergarten, now defunct, whose students have progressed, in the main, to traditional high schools and have been performing admirably.
I clearly remember my own formative years and the hard work that my teachers, who were predominantly in their senior years, put into teaching. In those days, it was important to know the root form of a word as well as the subject and predicate of a sentence, in addition to parts of speech.
Phonics was vitally important for pronunciation and spelling. These fundamentals are not being taught in our basic schools anymore because, in some instances, not even the teachers are aware of phonics, which lays the groundwork for our mastery of the English language. If you don't plough the ground properly, how can the seed be sown?
As for mathematics, I remember pebbles being used to teach me the multiplication table.
The dedication of past teachers is difficult to emulate in this present environment where the focus has changed drastically. Generally, persons have a mental block to mathematics, but the teacher's technique can make all the difference.
Whatever the method you choose, Mr Minister, it is evident that we have to get back to the basics. The Word of God states: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)