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 Bahamas Commentary

2006-01-18 03:26:53

Stop The Rhetoric

There is no need for the government to commission another soul to look into what is wrong with the school system. The answers are already there.

"The Government has a duty to ensure that the education system does not deceive the public so that it may, as indeed it must, retain public confidence."

These words were spoken by then-Minister of Education Darrell Rolle in August 1981 as he decried the abysmal grades being attained by students who were "graduating" from the government schools. And it was because of those concerns that he ordered the discontinuation of graduation ceremonies in all government schools and declared that an end would be put to "social promotion," a practice which allowed students to move through the system, based on their age.

The adage then was for failing students to repeat grades until they mastered the programme before moving on to the next grade.

But it seems the more things change the more they remain the same as a great brouhaha has been raised because in 2004 the national average for students in the public school system registered F+ for the BGCSE exams. For many of those students this is what they will leave school with and a goodly number of them will join the permanently unemployed because they will be ill-equipped to attain the kinds of jobs to which they aspire.

This is so because in the 25 years since Darrell Rolle, it is still much the same, as every June there are graduation exercises in the government schools for those students who have gone through the system. Parents are obliged to spend thousands of dollars for fancy proms in first-rate hotels, and which might include formal ball gowns, tuxedo suits, stretched limousine service and photographic portfolios. In some instances the parents put themselves into debt to finance these school-leaving parties, and in some cases for children who learnt absolutely nothing while travelling through the education system.

The Bahamas certainly cannot afford to continue down this road for another 25 years and it is time that a line be drawn in the sand. It is time that someone says enough already and mean it. The rhetoric every few years may sound good to those who can't remember what was said before, or to those who just conveniently choose to forget, but it is not doing any good for the country.

That notwithstanding, the society pays, because many of those failing teenagers become dysfunctional young adults who become statistics on the police blotter, in the court files and in the prison system. And for some they don't make it that far as their young lives are cut short, leaving their parents to grieve.

Over the years, many investigations have been conducted for The Bahamas Government and the Ministry of Education and there are numerous reports detailing the problems in the school system and offering solutions to those problems. There is no need for the government to commission another soul to look into what is wrong with the school system. The answers are already there.

Source: The Nassau Guardian

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