Empty chairs in Jamaican schools

The leading story in the Jamaica Observer yesterday was about the poor attendance in Jamaican schools. That 1 or 2 % we are paying for education tax maybe going to teachers lecturing to empty chairs in the classroom. On top of that last year government made education tuition free in all schools.

The aim according to the ministry of education is 90% attendance and it seems none of the 14 parishes could make this target. Clarendon, St Catherine and St. Mary were the worst performers getting 77%, 79% and 79.8 respectively. On the flip side a little brighter although still short of target the garden parish St Ann achieved 83.1 % followed by St James with 82.4% and Kingston 82.3 %.

Come to think about it Clarendon who is at the bottom of the list is where Clarendon College is located. The same school whose students locked down the school for a whole day last year because the principal decided to skip jeans day due to indiscipline there. It was quite interesting to see these little shits schoolers on Nationwide and Television Jamaica’s Prime Time News talking about jeans as if it was the most important thing in the world.

**Dutty shakes his head in wonder****

They need a reality check.


Anyway back to the story at hand, this got me thinking about some of the reasons/excuses kids give for not attending school and I made a little list out of idleness and fun.

Drum roll, envelope please and they are:

  1. Madda neva have no money
  2. Mi did sick (some perform sick)
  3. Rain fall
  4. Road did block
  5. It was Friday (especially in rural Jamaica)
  6. Help out madda or fadda wid sellin
  7. Study for exam ( I did this for CXC)
  8. Shootings/gang warfare (serious)
  9. Relative died (also serious)
  10. Simply scull school to do all manner of evil. Also sometimes the gate is locked on later comers who call it a day.

Its kind weird that this survey was done in 2006 and is front page news February 2008, really stale news if you think about it. I think this was a slow day in the news cycle or the Jamaica Observer. They are promoting an agenda by drawing attention to a problem. I can not complain about it since it seems like a noble cause.

There are some decent suggestions by folks in the education business that are mention in the article. My own radical solution and I can see Sam Sharpe children raising in protest is t:

  1. Re-introduce schools fees and hold it for the entire school year in national account accruing interest, then refund it every June to parents whose children have a 90% plus attendance. I know this defeat the “no money argument” but I honestly don’t think it’s a major issue. Adjustments can be made to accommodate that also.
  2. Children Services working with the police should look for children selling in the streets during school hours and level a fee at parents ( a ticketing system).
  3. One child advocate region who calls and visit parents whose children are absent from day one. This will show urgency and alert parents the school cares about what’s happening.
  4. I think the ministry of education should publish an annual list of schools and attendance rate instead of painting a whole parish with one percentage figure. This will shame the schools and parents to act.
  5. It also wouldn’t hurt giving students awards on a national level for a perfect attendance record. Schools with good attendance should also get a positive spotlight.

Thats just my 2 cents, can you think of anything else that can be done?


~ by RB on February 19, 2008.

One Response to “Empty chairs in Jamaican schools”

  1. […] some 2400 students idle for a whole day and remember as I mention in my previous post about  Empty chairs in Jamaican schools that Jamaica has a very bad record of absenteeism which show students are already loosing valuable […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: