Teachers, parents missed the bus
The Editor, Sir:
As reported in The Gleaner of December 31, the president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), Michael Stewart, and National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica president, Miranda Sutherland, have both shown concern about the increase in transportation costs that is about to take place.
What I find disappointing is that neither of them used the opportunity to emphasise the obvious need for children to be placed in schools near to where they live. Of course, it will not solve the problem for those already placed, but the opportunity should now be used to educate parents about the need to change the way they think.
No right to complain
The usual rationalisation will be made that the present system gives parents a choice. If parents really choose to send their children long distances to school, then they have no right to complain. The truth is that the system actually operates in such a way that it prevents most parents from getting their children into schools of their choice. Only the very brightest children in the country get to go to schools they choose and the rest are often forced to take long journeys elsewhere.
I have been writing about this subject for some time now and I have yet to hear one sensible argument in favour of the present system. The only purpose it serves is to maintain the spurious status of a few schools. Yet, the problems it causes are quite obvious. Aside from the expense to parents alluded to by the two leaders, it makes it more difficult for young people to be supervised properly. It gives them all the time in the world to indulge in the variety of distractions at the plazas, taxi stands game shops and to engage in the activities of 'no-panty Fridays' on the buses.
Our leaders must begin to lead us. Over the years, the JTA has always supported the idea of zoning. The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) had it in its last two manifestos. Is it that certain influential and powerful people do no want anything to change?
I am, etc.,
R. HOWARD THOMPSON