I would like to add my voice to Alexious Gonzales' comments in his letter published in the Jamaica Observer on August 29, 2022.
I refer, in particular, to what he described as preferential treatment by teachers in the classroom, whereby, when a topic is introduced, "…if the smarter students understand the topic, the teacher would move to the next topic, completely forgetting that there are other students."
I experienced this when I had to supervise my nephews when classes were conducted online, and I found it to be very troubling. The smart ones who participated and were called upon most of the time made up only a very small percentage of the class. The majority of students were not engaged so they simply zoned out. Is that acceptable to the school administration?
Following on from this is another issue that I find equally troubling.
I recently perused the student reports for three schools, each at a different level: kindergarten, primary, and secondary. One thing I found missing from each is a column for recommendations. After the test scores have been logged and comments duly noted, what is the recommendation for the way forward for the student who "has potential but does not pay attention consistently" or the student who does not grasp or understand the subject content? How do guidance counsellors assist students and parents who are clearly in need of guidance. In my view, recommendations should be made and recorded on the students' reports for action to be taken either by the parent or school.
What I also found frightening is that these students are simply moved on to the higher grade regardless of consistently poor performance at the lower grades. How does that help the student? Again, is this acceptable to the school administration?
This seems to be entrenched in our education system, whereby high achievers (kudos to them!) are catered to, but those struggling are left behind.
The system should allow for underperforming students to repeat a grade, and this should not be tabooed so that the student is made to feel like a failure. Educational institutions are there for a purpose — to educate. If this is happening for only a few, then something is amiss.
Every child can learn, yes, because every child has been seeded with God-given potential to learn and excel.
Every child must learn, but who ensures this? Perhaps the child learns differently, needs different tools/methods. The system should be able to recognise and address this in a serious way if we are to ensure a strong, vibrant, and progressive future for Jamaica.
So will it be business as usual for the 2022/2023 school year?