THE EDITOR, Sir:
ONE OF the society's major downfalls is our short-sightedness in how we develop and plan for eventualities. It appears we are always reacting to crisis after crisis instead of being proactive. Recently, the town of Port Maria was flooded again. We have known for some time now that whenever it rains the Port Maria Primary School will be flooded. The image on television showed debris, mud and dirt all over the school and furniture, and speaks to the severity of the problem which requires a long-term solution.
With more than 1,000 students attending the primary school nothing concrete has been done to date to ensure that the education of those students is resumed as quickly as possible. The location of the school makes it a prime target for flooding. As we saw earlier this week, with workers drying out the furniture and washing away the mud from the school premises, we are only applying a Band-Aid solution to the issue.
There are three major national examinations at the primary level of the education system: the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Tests. The grade six students are currently being prepared to sit the GSAT in March of next year, while the grade four students have a major date with the Grade Four Literacy/Numeracy Test in June of next year. In recent years, the number of students achieving mastery in the Grade Four Literacy Test has been declining. I am almost certain that the results of these examinations will be negatively impacted by the prolonged closure of the school and the displacement of those students.
It's rather sad and ironic that in the month designated and celebrated as Youth Month a sizeable portion of the youth population has nothing to celebrate. Additionally, under Article 28 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, to which Jamaica is a signatory, every child has the human right of receiving an education. The time is now for all the stakeholders involved to act speedily to protect and guarantee this basic right of all our children. Our children must be in school.