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Zoning schools a must - South Manchester MP

Published:Friday | March 4, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

SOUTH MANCHESTER Member of Parliament Michael Peart has made yet another call in the House of Representatives for the Ministry of Education to consider zoning schools.

Peart, who has been like a stuck record on the issue, said the current practice of placing students in schools based on performance is counter-productive to national development.

"We need to begin the process of phasing in a system where you zone the high schools," Peart said.

His remarks came in the wake of a statement made Tuesday by Education Minister Andrew Holness who told the House that students who fail the Grade Four Literacy Test four times would be put into special classes.

Peart pointed members to his constituency where he said three high schools - Porus, Winston Jones and Cross Keys - were built to facilitate students who live in the outer areas of Manchester.

"What we have found is that the records of Manchester High School, deCarteret College and Bishop (Gibson) is impressive because they get the cream of the crop. You don't even have to teach them, just give them the books," Peart said.

He added: "The students that you have difficulty with, these schools refuse to take. They are shunted down to Cross Keys and Porus High School."

Let them walk to school

Peart has argued that zoning would protect against the placing of all the top students in a single institution.

"The students who live next door to the schools, let them get an opportunity to walk to school," Peart said, while adding that schools should be given the best resources to teach students.

He also said that arising out of the economic recession, which has affected many families, "attendance (has been) dropping like a lead sinker".

"The parents cannot afford to pay the transportation cost from Mandeville and beyond down to south Manchester and back home again, plus lunch money," Peart said.