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Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Home Features Teachers know the problem; they have to solve it

Teachers know the problem; they have to solve it

I promised to hib some stones in the direction of Mr. Rudolph A. Neal, but before that, allow me to express a little concern I have to his bosses. I’m a confessed truant, and for that reason I usually hesitate to engage the education system too deeply; however, somebody has to throw some ideas their way.

I really think the Education Department doesn’t have that much to brag about. Every year for 13 years we heard Minister Faber sing about the huge one hundred and odd million dollars his ministry got, but there’s not that much bang in the buck he spent. If there was, our poverty rates and our violence level would not always be increasing. Some things never change. The proof of the pudding is always in the eating.

The pandemic being on the wane in December, it was announced that schools would be reopening in a big way early next year, and our land borders too, but we’ve been told that the opening of the land borders has been pushed back a month. The MOHW will be big on the decision if it is full speed ahead for schools in January; if there is a delay, hopefully it won’t be for long.

These almost two years our youth and children have been out of school have increased the gap between the rich and the poor. The rich, the well-off, the teachers, you bet their children didn’t fall off too much when schools closed. We don’t need a study to know that the children of teachers and the rich/well-off are far and away our best achievers in school.

Most children/youth whose parents don’t have the knowledge or pedagogy to help them, or did not have the money to buy essential electronic equipment for them, fell off badly. It will take some restructuring of the system to bring them up. We have to pray that when schools reopen, the Education Department has a brand new game plan, that they won’t bring the “same old”, which wasn’t working that well before the pandemic.

The pandemic put everything on hold, and the education system was no exception. All this time the education system has been near to pause, we had a golden opportunity to get a big discussion going about it in our country. It didn’t happen, maybe because we didn’t have the energy to focus on anything besides Covid-19. Fortunately, toward the end of the school year there was a salvo from San Pedro that was heard all around Belize. The Education Department spoke of reprimand, but we should all thank the teacher who lost her cool with her uninterested students, because it prompted a discussion that we need desperately.

Okay, now, to Brother Rudolph, and thanks again to the teacher who threw the first blow, because she inspired him to lay it all out there. Speaking directly to Mr. Neal, we know how the world works. Every time you throw a punch, you are open for a counter. Oh no, no, no, my lick is like a fly bite compared to a bolo, it doesn’t come close to carrying the same weight as his. I didn’t say who will get knocked out. I’ve noticed that some boxers, especially those with thick necks, can take a wallop, and some fellows can dish it out, but they have the frail glass jaw.

There are five immediately observable parts to the education system, those being the Education Department, the church, the teachers, the parents, and the students. The first two give direction; the teachers, with the assistance of parents, are about executing the mandate, and students are sponges, in the system to absorb knowledge. The day will come when students will graduate to the movers and shakers department, but until then, theirs is not to reason why, theirs is about swallowing what they are fed at school.

The Education Department and the churches and the students out of the way, let’s get in a word or two to these teachers who’ve been hibbing blows at parents years upon years, and nary a blow has been thrown back, to explain things. Some of you know when a part of the problem began. The smart ones at the top changed the way they teach the subjects, introduced a modern way, and they effectively obliterated parents who couldn’t keep up or buy any help for their kids.

In his piece, titled “Standing too close to an elephant”, frice Rudolph pounded parents for their lack of support in the education of their children. As I said, this is a song our teachers have been singing for quite some time, and it is a matter that must be thoroughly aired out, for the benefit of the affected parties, our youth and children.

Mr. Neal said that during this pandemic teachers’ work has “doubled if not tripled” — that despite them facing their own stresses because of the pandemic. He said that when it comes to delivering their lessons, the participation of students has been “less than encouraging”, and “parental support is extremely lacking.” Mr. Neal lamented “poor parental support” amidst the “sheer lack of interest and insolence on the part of the pupils.” He said they are “not adequately supervised whilst online (by parents)”, and he called for an investigation into “the low parental support that doesn’t reflect or match the efforts that teachers are putting in…”

Of course, Mr. Neal is not off base when he says some parents aren’t pulling their weight. We know who they are. The demographic is the ones who do not number among our rich, and our well-off/teachers. As noted, the rich can buy help for their children, pay for them to go to the best schools, and the well-off are our educated ranks, our managers and teachers and such, and they not only value education because they know what it has done for their lives, but they are also able to fill the gaps when their children flounder.

Teachers are on the hook. A simple call for a change in attitude hasn’t worked. Let’s be very clear here. We all know that teachers work hard, and they’ve had to put out extra effort during the pandemic, but life is about the bottom line, which in their case is about how well students perform. If the students fail, they fail. Don’t give all the points to those teachers who have some star students. The truth is that students who excel are driven. They’ll do well no matter which teacher is at the blackboard.

Yes, it’s about the bottom line. Parents aren’t being paid to make their children and youth pass the exams, teachers are. Our disappointing performance on the PSE is at their doorstep. Whoa, did Francis F and Louis Z actually buckle to the anti-PSE gang? I had nominated Yasser for NICH, but it looks like his reach extends way beyond that lee organization. I believe that for years now that brother has been condemning the PSE, and bam here cometh Code Blu, and the PSE is in the dustbin. If you want to know more about that decision, check out Kory Leslie’s interesting story, “New school curriculum, no PSE this year”, in the Amandala of August 14, 2021. I won’t, because I’m after defending parents, from the assaults of Rudolph and his companions.

Beating up on parents won’t get us anywhere, because those who are slipping weren’t included in the modern teaching, and they are taxed to the max to find food and clothing and shelter for their children. Teachers can continue huffing and puffing at them, and their children will keep dropping back, and our poverty and violence levels will keep rising.

Teachers know what the story behind our failures is. They are smart; they know what to do. They will have to work harder at getting parents involved.

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