JIS: With less than a week before the start of the 2017-2018 school year, Educators in several institutions in rural Jamaica say they are more than ready for the tasks ahead.
However, they say that while they will be doing their best to facilitate the needs of thousands of students in the classrooms, “we are hoping that parents will also do their part in giving us some much-needed assistance”.
Approximately 1,000 public schools at the infant, primary and secondary levels will open their doors to welcome almost 500,000 students for the new school year. In addition, hundreds of early-childhood institutions operated by community-based and private entities will extend their arms to admit thousands of four- to six-year-olds.
The educators also note that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and its regional bodies have been of “tremendous help” and should be commended for their assistance in some very critical areas.
“We are doing our best to ensure we have an environment that is conducive to learning for the one thousand-plus students who will be rolling through our corridors next Monday (September 4),” Principal of John Rollins Success Primary in Barrett Town, St. James, Yvonne Williams-Wisdom, tells JIS News.
“We must commend the Ministry for its commitment in ensuring that no child is left behind and for the continuation of the lunch and breakfast programmes for needy students. Of course, there will be challenges. However, as best as possible, I am confident we are ready for the start of the new school year,” she says.
Ms. Williams-Wisdom says that while security was a major concern in the past, the school has now hired a security firm “to keep intruders out” and to ensure that “our students and teachers remain safe”.
For her part, Senior Teacher at Beecher Town Primary in St. Ann, Carmen Brown, says while the back-to-school preparations have been going well, the water situation at the facility remains a challenge.
“We have a catchment where we have to rely on the rain and also trucked water from the National Water Commission (NWC). It is not the perfect situation, but we have to make do with the reality at hand,” she adds.
Ms. Brown, whose school has excelled in both academics and cultural activities, says that teachers at Beecher Town Primary are really looking forward to the start of the new school year, noting that “our job here is to try and provide the highest quality of education for our children”.
In anticipation of the new school year, the Ministry has been busy sending out senior officers in the field to engage in dialogue with educators as it relates to chartering a way forward.
Emphasising that education is the most important gift a parent can pass on to a child, portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, told a recent Jamaica Teachers’ Association conference that every child in Jamaica that is of age to go to school must do so as provided for in the Education Code.
“No child must be kept at home without good cause, and no school must exclude any student,” the Education Minister declared.
In the meantime, Vice-Principal of Godfrey Stewart High School in Westmoreland, Emily Ricketts, tells JIS News that one of the challenges her school is facing is to accommodate the high number of requests for transfers.
“Godfrey Stewart has emerged as a school of choice for many students in Westmoreland. Unfortunately, especially on the eve of back-to-school, we are unable to accommodate many of the transfer requests we are getting,” she says.
Ms. Ricketts notes that the school is well prepared for back-to-school activities. “We are all very positive and excited about the prospects of a very good school year,” she says.
Over at Maldon Primary in Maroon Town, St. James, expectations are high for a very successful school year.
Principal, Audrey Bernard-Kilbourne, tells JIS News: “We too have our fair share of challenges. However, we have been good in working with what we have, and our dedicated teachers and equally dedicated students are ready for whatever lies ahead. Yes, we are ready for the new school year.”
CAPTION: Students from a number of schools in rural Jamaica gather in the auditorium for a function at the William Knibb High School in Trelawny recently.