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LETTER OF THE DAY -Time to revamp all aspects of our education system

Published:Saturday | June 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM


Why should we be shocked at the latest statistics that show that a majority of our schools are failing or have failed? Whenever these issues come around, the arguments seem to revolve around who is to blame. It is time that we elevate the discussions and bring them to a level that can inspire change.

The statistics, produced by think tank based on the 2013 Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC), raises some serious questions about our education system and our preparedness for the future. The report is an indictment on the education process in Jamaica. According to the data, 120 out of 161 schools have failed miserably. Fewer than 50 per cent of their students obtained at least five subjects, including mathematics and English.

There is a fundamental reason for this problem. Our schools will continue to fail if the system keeps allowing students who are not prepared to move on to a another level. It is illogical to have students advance to higher education when they are not even coping at their current level.

For far too long, we have only spoken about this inherent flaw in the system and have not implemented anything to address it. Instead, there are complaints about school space and the logistics of having students repeat a grade level. This is an opportune time to revamp all aspects of our education system.

I am in full agreement with former Prime Minister Bruce Golding when he uttered the point that we have to get rid of some of the cosmetic subjects and topics for now. The education ministry needs to properly put together a balanced curriculum that will see an increase in our students' performance in core subjects such as mathematics, English language, information technology, and civics. With these subjects, there will be a firm platform for the learning and understanding of more advanced subjects.


On a point of caution, while there should be an appreciation for this sort of statistics, parents, teachers and school administrators must be very careful not to get too caught up in statistics. Administrators, especially, should resist the temptation to modify school programmes for the sole purpose of ensuring that the school has good statistics. In some cases, students suffer; in all cases, Jamaica suffers.

For some, the recently released information is an eye-opener, but for others, it is only another reason to be unkind to others. Those who believe that in order to stay at the top of the table, or to be ranked above neighbouring schools, they must suppress learning materials from them, must realise that it helps no one.

Competition is always good, but there has to be an understanding that the one main objective for all schools is to produce trainable pupils who will advance Jamaica and, by extension, the world.