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Tricky start to school year for some schools

Published:Monday | September 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaviot Kelly
A mother makes some adjustments to her daughter's uniform as she makes her way to school on the first day of the new academic year yesterday.
Students at Gregory Park Primary in St Catherine gathered for prayer at morning assembly on the first day of the new academic year.
A man seen on Duke Street in Kingston taking a student to school on the first day of the new academic year yesterday.
Beverly Russell accompanies her three grandsons – Zaher Cooper (left), Tomoy Robinson (centre), and Lavan Wright to their first day at the Spanish Town Primary in St Catherine. All three boys said they were happy to be in school.
Grade one student Janella Campbell seems quite happy on her first day at school at St Ann’s Bay Primary in St Ann.

The 2015-2016 academic year got off to a relatively smooth start yesterday, but some schools reported various challenges.

Some parents complained of transportation delays because of traffic or the availability of State-owned buses. But for the most part, whether via Coaster buses, taxis, motorcycles or bicycles, parents and guardians got the children out early for the first day.

A few schools had a need for furniture.

However, Audrey Williams, principal of Denham Town High, said the administration was still looking forward to the new school year.

"The ministry said they will be sorting us out," she said.

Williams said there were minor glitches in registration for some grade nine students but most students were registered without hitches. At the adjoining Denham Town Primary School, Member of Parliament for West Kingston Desmond McKenzie said after meetings with the various parties, there was a lull in the violence that occasionally hinders learning. But he bemoaned a lack of resources.

"I am concerned about the state of schools in west Kingston," he said. "I am disappointed that the Ministry of Education has done little, if anything, to assist west Kingston schools for the opening of school."

He noted a lack of furniture, general equipment and water tanks. He expressed hope that Education Minister Ronald Thwaites would be available to field questions in Parliament about what can be done.

"If you want change, it must be through education," said McKenzie. "You have to provide the necessary equipment."

In Trench Town, south St Andrew, workmen were adding final touches to the new Charlie Smith High School.

The school has merged school populations with Trench Town High (which has been rebranded Trench Town Polytechnic College). It is expected that the school will open next Monday.

In the Portmore municipality, it was a new day for Braeton Primary and Junior High, as the school began operating as a single-shift institution.

Principal Orlando Worges noted he made recommendations to the Ministry of Education when he took over last September.

"The students were being cheated of valuable contact time," he said.

hitches ironed out

After receiving furniture from the Ministry of Education, Food For The Poor, and other organisations, all was in place for new students to start yesterday. The full school reports today.

"We worked throughout the summer to get ready," said Worges. "We've had no hitches today. We ironed them out."

Worges said switching to a one-shift system would ensure resources are used more efficiently.

"The students will get more contact time, and that will improve on what we have achieved. We want to take that (performances) up another notch," he said.

Worges also reasoned that student participation in clubs and societies would improve as these extra-curricular activities can take place after the school day ends at 2:40 p.m., rather than during the change of shift as was the case previously.

Carron Hall High School in St Mary and Exchange All-Age in St Ann both reported no water. There was also a report of a student being turned away at Happy Grove High in Portland because of non-payment of auxiliary fees. The Ministry of Education said the incident was investigated and addressed.