'Unfortunate, disastrous and irresponsible'
'Faulty and hypocritical in interpretation' is how the Jamaica Teachers' Association described the recent study which revealed that most persons in penal facilities are from poor-performing schools.
For me, 'unfortunate, disastrous and irresponsible' are some of the adjectives that describe the recent announcement by the minister of education.
Irresponsible in the sense that the credibility of this research might not have been questioned thoroughly before accepting it and using same to damage the morale of the affected stakeholders. Whilst it might be a fact that the surveyed inmates in penal facilities are associated with the so-called poor-performing schools, there is no scientific evidence that these schools would have influenced their acts of criminality.
Someone with the ability to analyse would have looked at the causation factors of the findings and sought to devise strategies to correct same before hastily making utterances which suggest that schools are breeding grounds for criminals.
Furthermore, the commissioned study — to the best of my knowledge — was not aimed at finding out whether or not poor-performing schools are breeding ground for criminals. As such, the statements made in the media by the minister ought to be ignored by all well-thinking people.
I am challenging the honourable ministers of education and national security to commission a study aimed at finding the root causes of these persons being locked away in penal facilities.
In my view, it is high time that we stop dancing around the truth as a camouflage tactic. The education minister, who described the results of the study as frightening, said naming the schools is in no way intended to ridicule them. How incongruous! This is nothing but an attack on the so-called non-traditional schools and their hard-working members of staff.
If anyone takes time out to become familiar with the strategies that have been developed by these same so-called non-performing schools, it would reveal that they are reaping positive fruits without any input from the education hierarchy.
The energies being exerted in remaining in the face of the media could be better used convincing the prime minister and the rest of Cabinet to develop a plan of action, with the Opposition's input, to address once and for all the many social ills that are landing our youths in penal facilities.
I stand ready, though not a parliamentarian, to commit my time and expertise to
the development and implementation of such strategies for the betterment of our youth. I call on Jamaica to let us play our part in saving our future.
Northern Caribbean University