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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

School Daze


Dear Editor

This is an open letter to the most honorable prime minister, informing him that many of us would forego all the presents for Christmas, including the dollar barrel, if the government would work with us to usher in a fundamental and revolutionary change in education in 2008.

We have written, we have spoken, we have cursed and we have prayed about the unacceptable level of crime and about the equally unacceptable level of disinterestedness and hopelessness amongst our youths, particularly our school boys. When almost everything else has been tried and failure continues to stalk us, we have to consider structure or form to understand why our operations and results are so dysfunctional.

We are proposing a drastic reduction in the size and function of the Ministry of Education along with the decentralization of its functions to allow for the autonomous running of secondary schools. These schools should be run by boards comprising members of the community. Board membership should comprise people living and working within as well as without the environs of the school including parents and guardians of school children.

We need to feel and experience a more intimate sense of ownership of the elements of our development. Decentralizing the running of secondary schools will put communities in charge of crucial aspects of education and help to forge the necessary community spirit and expertise that running a school demands. Those who point to the fact that many parents do not attend PTA meetings should reflect on the proverbial chicken and egg question. People are not stupid. People first means education First.

We must stop the antiquated and unintelligent practice of promoting excellent teachers by moving them from schools to desk jobs in the Ministry of Education. This underscores the fact that were school boards in place and autonomous, the best teachers with the best results would have got the best job in the first place, attracted the best pay and remained in the best jobs doing what they love best. To those who will charge us with elitism, our response is as simple as the mind of an uneducated school child (an oxymoron): In times like these, we have to start at the top in order to show others where to go. That is why we are writing to you, Sir.

Who are we?
Dr. Lester CN Simon and a posse of potential thieves, thugs, vagabonds, duncy-head, crack-head, homicidal, suicidal, misguided, lonely and walking-jumbie youths in waiting.

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