THE EDITOR, Sir:
As a society, we are concerned about the poor mathematics and English grades at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate level. We are certain that the schools and teachers have failed - the same teachers and schools which did significantly better in the previous year.
It would appear as if the teaching methodologies, the resource materials, the quality of teachers shifted drastically in one year. What did the schools do to have caused this mammoth decline in performance? Or is there another factor?
Let us consider the environment in which our students were expected to perform. Where were these students in their academic career when Jamaica was held hostage by violence and crime as we burnt police stations, incited insurrection in several communities, used the power of the State to shoot into homes in the middle of the night to locate 'persons of interest'?
Is it possible that the teachers' talent to impart, and the students' capacity to learn, decreased in this period? Did the teachers, carpenters, dressmakers, gunmen, media, parents fail to understand the impact of pain, fear and violence on the learning process?
Not to pardon underperformance, but was there more we should have done to enable the success of our students? Maybe many needed more creative ways to heal rather than merely moving forward with business as usual. Maybe the society should have been the healer and so enable the school to be the teacher.
Even as we dialogue towards improved performance, let us desist from laying the burden of guilt at the foot of the teachers, and consider systems which will enable the healing of injured psyche and the development of a more peaceful society. We want our people to achieve their best in spite of adverse conditions.