THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am sure there are merits to the proposed lengthening of the school year. Students can always benefit from more engagement. Apart from the diminishing returns as far as the teachers are concerned, the larger problem is the length of the school day for students in shift schools.
Judging from the external examination results of many traditional high schools, compared with those of the upgraded (many on shift) high schools, I believe that more hours would help to improve their overall results.
The region with which I am familiar has 12 high schools: four of these are original traditional high schools, while five are on shift.
If we compare the results of these nine schools, we will see that the results from the traditional high schools are far better, for the most part, than those of the shift school. There is no real difference between the qualifications and ability of the teachers in the two categories of schools. So what, then, makes the difference?
There is no doubt that there is a disparity in the entry qualifications of the students, but the shift schools have been able to make some bricks out of straw.
When we consider that a student in a shift school needs to be at school for 7:15 a.m. and be out of there by midday, it does not take a rocket scientist to see that on average, they spend five hours in school (if they reach on time after travelling some long distances), some of which is taken up with non-classroom activities.
It would be interesting to see what happens at Marcus Garvey Technical, now that it is off shift, within the next three or so years.
I would suggest that for academic, cultural and social mobility, the business of eliminating shift be tackled seriously, thus making the school year longer for that category of students.