Recently, I was asked to be the judge at a cultural pageant that took place at a primary school in the western region of the island. To my surprise, this would be a cultural shock that would definitely change my purview on the education system of Jamaica. That night after the contest, I called my father and told him I would NEVER EVER send my child to a public school.
Let me help you understand my sentiments. Upon entering the school, the gate was wide open of course, to me, this is an invitation to enter, and there were a few ladies sitting idle at the gate. Having passed these women, one finally stopped me when I was about a little distance past her and said to me with her neck moving in a circular motion, "Can I help you?" I was very surprised at her tone as I thought she was a parent "chilling" at the gate. They say you shouldn't fight fire with fire but 'I was ready for her' so with my neck moving even more vigorously, I responded to her, "Sure you can help me, I'm looking for Ms so and so." To my surprise, this woman sitting idle at the gate was the teacher who ought to have been screening the persons going on the compound.
As if that wasn't bad enough, when I finally got to the area where the fun day and later the pageant were being held, I was greeted with children "Bruking it dung". Might I remind you that this institution is a primary school which stops at grade six? I tried to ignore the distasteful songs that were being played so loud that they caused the doors and windows to vibrate as I only had one purpose; to judge the pageant and then leave. After all, I was just doing a friend a favour and doing my part as a citizen by giving back to the community. However, what I would classify as PG 16 and above songs were the order of the day and the kids seemed to know every word in the song; and I mean every single line.
I thought to myself, "maybe I'm just not contemporary and maybe a bit too old fashion that is why I was having a problem with this sort of music" but then a few children caught my attention. Students were dressed in "batty rider" so short that I could see their bottom peg, they had on "belly skin", they had on dresses so tight and so short - I would not even wear to my bed - they had in blue hair pieces, red.... and I could go on with the scandalous mode of dressing that was displayed.
I was not so upset with the students, because they must have left their parents' or guardians' home before heading out to school and on top of that, the teachers were all present in their glory. Some even were gyrating to the beat of the crude music that was being played. I wondered to myself, "they must be keeping this event for the parents." But the number of parents that were there could be counted on my hand.
Then, like a ball dropping from about two feet high, it hit me suddenly, "these teachers all need to be locked in a cage and the keys thrown away". How can you allow children to come to a school event without laying down rules as to how they should be dressed and outlining to the DJ the audience he will be playing for? Are these teachers out of their mind? It continued with the crude music and the children doing what seemed to be the norm; they wined and gyrated on each other.
When I was in school, I was timid of my teachers but here, it seemed as if the teachers condoned all kind of slackness so the kids were not in the least way timid. They loosely rotated their waist lines, "bubbled", "bruck it down" all the while standing in the presence of the teachers who only grinned their 32; can you imagine the nerves of these careless 'teachers'.
If you think I am joking, to make things worse, could you guess the artiste that was brought to entertain these primary students? Nah you wouldn't because I would never have dreamt of this. The famous 'Money O' Queen was brought in to entertain these students and of course she sang her 'cowfoot song', the 'whola hoop' song ... I sat there with a painful smile just looking in awe as I could do nothing ... I wanted to scream. I felt as if I was lost in a world surrounded by antediluvians who kept on eating away at my body and I just could not help myself!
I managed to endure what I would dub 'the most embarrassing evening of my life'. I was embarrassed for the teachers and the Ministry of Education. How do we expect the children to excel and move up the ladder when the system is helping to tarnish them for life? Might I add that this school is one of the worse performing primary schools in its region and now I can definitely understand why.
I think it is incumbent on the ministry officials to maintain its presence in schools through unbiased and no-nonsense persons to ensure that the values of the ministry are upheld and they stick to the mandate of higher education.
It is said that all work and no play makes jack a dull boy, but I am certain that that event made the students more dull than they would have ever been had they proceeded with the regular school day. I am truly hurt that we can allow our students to be exposed to this kind of slackness within the schools. It's bad enough that their parents 'don't care' and see this kind of behaviour as being ok. Teachers need to make the difference man! They need to be the ones to instill the change! Let us have some form of positivity within the schools nuh! Allow the parents to find comfort in the fact that when they send their kids to school they have sent them to a safe Haven! My God man!