THE EDITOR: Is our failing education system a contributor to the increased high school dropout rate? At a recently held Joint Select Committee (JSC) meeting the country was informed that over 3,000-plus children had dropped out of school in a three-year period. The majority were boys and had joined gangs. Some of the reasons given for the increase in school dropout were that the boys didn’t feel engaged by their teachers, no financial support to get to school, children were not sleeping at nights because of gunshots, and boys were concerned about their mother’s safety.
Someone spoke about the prison population and questioned if it was linked to school dropout and the under-achieving boys Another person stated that for 20 years the problems were not addressed and as such it had festered and is now a sore. I view the JSC another ‘talk shop’ since they obtain information and recommendations, and nothing occurs. It’s interesting how no one spoke about the elephant in the room that is the failing education system and its contribution to increase high-school drop-out rate.
For decades the Ministry of Education has informed the country of a 30 per cent failure rate at SEA, yet the children are placed in schools. The scenario is one in which the young man is now in a high-school setting and soon realises he cannot function (he cannot read and write, so how did he reach to standard five?), so he disrupts the class with antics, or get into fights. How can he engage with a teacher when he doesn’t know what is taking place? The teacher gets tired and frustrated and he is sent to the Principal, where he is suspended. With no supervision at home, the corner block with drugs and gangs becomes his safe haven and family, and he eventually drops out of school. Then he becomes a statistic, as he is either incarcerated or becomes the latest fatality.
Development has a price, and things have changed. Previously when you failed common entrance you went to sixth standard where you learnt a trade, and tradesman were easily available. Today we import tradesmen, because politicians made adhoc decisions and threw away the baby with the bath water. Short term benefits replaced long term objectives for the future. So exactly how better off are we as a nation? Over the last two decades huge investment has been placed on intellectuals and professionals at the expense of technical and vocational achievers. Youth camps and home-work centres shut down for political games at the expense of the creative and innovative youths among us. (Eteck in Wallerfield )
TT is well known for its quick-fixes and consequent ramifications. Educators have long been calling on the Ministry of Education to make changes. Decades later, and it is “the more things change the more they remain the same”. The cycle continues with a 30 per cent failure rate, and burgeoning crime unabated. No one is addressing the root of the problem, but pumping millions of dollars in high-tech equipment and increased numbers of servicemen in the TTPS. Suggestions and recommendations have fallen on deaf ears. There is no continuity with programmes and policies from one government to another. It's starting all over again, because "we have the answers.” It’s simply politicking with our children’s lives. When will we get it right, or as the late Mighty Duke sang, How many more must die?