Independent schools want partnership with Government

Friday, November 10, 2017

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An executive of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA) is advocating for a partnership to bring a holistic approach in educating students, which he says will lead to a reduction in crime and violence.

The executive, Wesley Boynes, vice-president for JISA, went even further when he told the Jamaica Observer this week that a lack of partnership between Government and private schools was partly to be blamed for the high crime rate plaguing the island.

“A lot of these people (criminals) did not come from our institutions. I can understand why a school that has 50 students in a class will produce criminals and have children beating up on the dean and all kind of stuff,” Boynes said in an interview during the launch of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association Congress of Parents at Sts Peter and Paul Preparatory School auditorium in St Andrew. “I challenge any independent survey company to go and do a poll.”

He was making reference to the incident at Anchovy High School in St James where a group of female students attacked the school's dean of discipline last month.

“When you have so many people pack up in a space, you get on each other's nerves. Children need their space. If the whole focus [of education] is certification and not character-building, then we have a problem,” said Boynes, who is also a pastor.

Boynes, meanwhile, made it clear that JISA was not begging, and called for a “proper partnership”, which he said would strengthen the country's education system.

“We want a partnership, just like the Government going into partnership with the guys in agriculture, tourism industry and other private enterprises. Somehow it seems like private school is most private of all [as] once you said private partner everybody is up in arms,” Boynes stated.

He, meanwhile, expressed concern about the social state of Jamaica and argued that the Government spends millions of dollars in an effort to combat crime when the root of the problem lies within the upbringing of the nation's children.

Boynes argued that the majority of public institutions, unlike some private schools, are focused more on getting the curriculum across than instilling morals and values.

“Majority of our private schools are value-based institutions. We have a strong moral foundation …and that's a strong issue in the culture of most of our member schools attached to the JISA. The people we produce wouldn't need all that policing; you don't have to run them down, pay how much police and build new prison,” Boyne said.

Boyne added: “If you educate a man without morals, you are only educating him to act more effectively in his own self-interest. I think that is what we are missing. It is unfortunate that the issue of raising children has to fall-back on educators. That's a very unfortunate reality but it is what we have to deal with. We really have to look at what private schools are doing in terms of producing people who we don't need to spend money to run them down and lock them up. That is an important issue, let's build a partnership, we can produce more people.”

“Morals and values is what keeps the job, education is what gets you the job,” he continued.

The JISA executive said that a partnership with the Government does not necessarily mean financial support.

“A lot of times the partnership does not mean spending one cent but can be facilitating. For example, if the Government is buying 20,000 desks you can call up the private school and say you need 10 desks and place ours in the order and we pay less but when we have to pay for 10 we paying more for each one. Why we can't have partnership like those in place?” he questioned. “If the Government has some licence for some software, some computer software, some technology software why can't the private school have access to that software, which is online? Who will that cost?” he reasoned, adding that there are more ways to foster partnership.

While Boynes said he understood that not every parent can afford to enrol their child in a private institution, he said a partnership will cut the cost of school fees as well as facilitate better development of each child.

“Our children will do better in the secondary exams. There is something wrong with a student when he sits in a class with 45 students and one teacher. Which normal teacher can really teach all 45 (students) equally. I wish we can find a way to put the politics aside and approach the private education separately, he said, adding that the way private education is looked at is a “distortion”.

— Racquel Porter

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