Empower students to apply themselves more
Too many young people take their education for granted.

There is currently a discussion on Twitter about the quality of education in Jamaica. A question posed by a Twitter user, for example, asked respondents to give their honest thoughts about the quality of the education they received in Jamaica.

First I want to say I was an average student and had I applied myself more I could have been more successsful. But answering the question was not what came to mind at first. I was drawn back to memories of meeting several people my age throughout the years who had no subjects or anything to show that they went to school. And I wondered: But the education was there, it was right in front of us, how did it pass you by?

However, I had to empathise because, even though we have a world-class education system, in terms of syllabus and content, the truth is that many other factors are at play. A child's background, family dynamics, family financial situation, among other things, have a lot to do with how children turn out.

To cut to the chase, instead of delving into issues affecting some students, I want to say that, inspite of the issues we face with our education system, it is indeed world-class, but more can be done to encourage students to apply themselves even if they don't go to their high school of choice.

Jamaican students have access to free education up to high school.

I have met too many people who, after many years of leaving high school, live in regret and wished they had applied themselves more. "Oh, them did bright, but them never take them school work seriously" is all that can be said about these people, and I concur because I personally wish I had applied myself more.

So, instead of focusing on high school rivalry, which school is the brightest, which one is traditional, etc, let us all come together and start encouraging our little ones to apply themselves, try harder to learn, and take their education more seriously.

Even if there is no competent teacher, a child who is at least able to read should be able to educate themselves with the amount of books we have in Jamaica. I personally found joy in reading my older sister's literature and other books when I was in primary school. All I'm saying is that this island is not short of schools, and education is basically free right up to high school.

Oftentimes we rush to blame poverty, but the truth is that more can be done to empower our children to take their education seriously, to apply themselves as best as they can because it will be worth it in the long run.

Ministry of Education headquarters at Heroes' Circle.

I would suggest a campaign using real-life people to share their struggles so that students understand that its not all rose petals when one becomes an adult, whether you are a nine to fiver or an entrepreneur. Even if you don't use your certificates when you're done, it shows others that you are at least trainable.

I have never been given an official platform, but in my own way I try to encourage any child I encounter on this life journey to take your schoolwork seriously, don't watch anybody else because we all have different paths, so it doesn't even make sense to compete with others — compete with yourself and the last bad grade you got.

If you don't do anything else when you get to high school, please make sure you pass your Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) subjects. Your subjects are very important and don't let anybody belittle you for wanting to take them seriously. "Oh, that nuh hard"; "This nuh hard"; "A no nothing fi study fa". Don't listen to those people, everybody is different and if you know you have to study to pass an examination, please study. Set a timetable for studying the different subjects, find your own pace, and make studying something enjoyable.

I personally don't like to overexert myself when it comes to studying, maybe that's why I'm average. But take my foolish advice, once you pass your CXC subjects it will probably turn out to be the hardest part of your journey. I believe things are so much easier for people with a few CXCs in this country. Get them, then figure out if you want to go to sixth form then university.

Parents, encourage your children, talk to them about your life lessons, do more to spend time with them, invest in them, and motivate them to apply themselves more.

To the Ministry of Education, you know what the issues are. Please pay our hard-working teachers more. We don't want our teachers worrying about light bill, water, food, and transportation while they are on the job. Put yourselves in their shoes. We can do better by them.

shanicablair1@gmail.com

BY SHANICA BLAIR

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