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'No-school days' too frequent!

Published:Friday | March 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM
This student turned up at Norman Manley High School in Kingston and was told that the school was closed because the body of a man was found in a pit on the property on Tuesday, June 2, 2009. - file

The Editor, Sir:

We have to give credit to our education system that has produced so many scholarship winners in recent examinations, and note the dedication of our teachers who guide students to follow various curricula and complete the exam syllabus, despite the many 'no-school days'.

Regular 'school-closed' holidays are: New Year's Day, Ash Wednes-day, Easter with Good Friday and Easter Monday, Labour Day, Eman-cipation Day, Independence Day, Heroes' Day and Christmas Day. Some schools have so many 'closed' days, I wonder how they manage to graduate good quality students.

Some of these days are as follows:

During New Year's week, there is often no school and then there are midterm breaks (about three weeks in the academic year).

Sports Days - schools have their own competition and it's 'no work' leading up to, and on sports days.

Boys' and Girls' Championship Games - many days of preparation and training, etc.

Labour days - no school.

Election and by-election days - no school, and some schools are used as voting centres.

No-water days - some schools are closed for many days until watertanks are filled.

Fund-raising days for barbecues and fairs - no classes on those days.

Epidemic days - school has to be closed for pinkeye and other communicable illnesses.

Emancipation Day - much time off for rehearsals and practise.

Independence Day - more time off for rehearsals and practise.

National Heroes' Day - time off for rehearsals and practise.

National Festival - time off for rehearsals and practise.

SDC competitions - time off for rehearsals and practise.

Open day - students work on exhibition hence no classes

Road block days - nobody can pass the road blocks to go to school.

Of course, there are demonstration days which have no fixed date. Disruptions are unpredictable. When there is a death in the school community, time is given for mourning, followed by counselling and trauma recognition.

Violence day - school closed; students sent home because of attack on teachers or other students.

Rain, storm, hurricane, landslide days - no school for days in some areas. Some schools are used as 'shelters' and much damage is done by the sheltered ones who some-times, long after the occurrence, refuse to leave the compound.

Study leave is given to students sitting exams.

Summer holidays - school closed for July and August.

Christmas holidays-school closed for about three weeks.

How many days do some children spend away from school? How do they manage to get their work done?

Going back to basics

My retired colleagues and I cringe when we hear some of the experts, with their foreign accents, telling the country, mainly on radio, of the illiterate students being graduated from primary and secondary schools. We know it's not just the days away from school, nor the size of the classes. It is, sometimes, the teaching methods.

To deal with a crash programme in education right now, we have to go back to phonetics, back to grammar, and back to arithmetic and 'tables'. Please let us try this. The public lamentation has to stop if we start the remedial programme now.

I have to tell you of two teenagers I met recently. One was asked to add items costing $900, $700 and $550 and he could not do it without his calculator, which a relative had wickedly hidden.

The other was sent to one of the unmonitored private schools because, at 15, he could barely read. When I saw her last, his grandmother was on her way to the Ministry of Education to find out what was going on, for the school had entered him for five CSEC subjects and had given him a voucher for fee payment at the bank.

If only we could get a foot in to see the Minister of Education.

I am, etc.,