Linden schools get failing grade for poor results

-students accuse teachers of sexual abuse

The performance of students in Linden has fallen below average over the last decade and teachers were yesterday blasted for the dire situation in schools, including sexual abuse.

Mortimer Mingo

“This is a cause for concern to us,” Regional Chairman Mortimer Mingo told participants at a brief ceremony to mark the opening of a two-day education conference, facilitated by the Linden Fund.

Mingo noted the striking degradation of student performances in schools across the region. According to him, between 1991 and 2001, schools in Region 10, and in particular Linden, were always among the top ten at the National Grade Six Examination. He said in the years since, the schools have barely managed to place one or two in the top 100.

Mingo, noting the importance of asking why the situation has occurred, suggested that if children are not passing examinations, teachers were not teaching. While he admitted that there are other contributory social factors, he said that teachers need to identify, admit and act on those factors otherwise they would be failing the children.

He said better performances would also hinge greatly on the involvement of parents. It was noted that it is the responsibility of the schools to encourage parents, on an individual basis for special cases and at Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meetings, to get involved in the education of their children.

“It is pointless that a few schools are far ahead and the remainders are way behind and those left behind represent the vast majority of our children, it makes no sense,” Mingo added.

The Regional Democratic Council (RDC) is charged with the responsibility for the delivery of education and had set up a regional committee headed by Pastor Selwyn Sills in an attempt to harness the situation. At a recent committee meeting, where issues surrounding the performance of children were being ventilated, a report revealed that in a Form One class of 147 children who sat an end-of-term examination, 143 failed.

Mingo contended that if those children were to be moved to the next grade, it was quite obvious that the performance of that school would not be as expected at a national examination. “Some people would want to argue that this is happening throughout the country but I must say that I am particularly concerned about this region. I have a mandate for the delivery of education in this region among other things and therefore I am focusing on that,” he noted.
Sexual abuse
Regional Councillor and Chairman of the Regional Welfare committee Valarie Adams, in a brief address, alluded to the findings of a forum held recently with students of schools from across Linden.

At that session, she said, students complained about being forced into sexual relationships with male and female teachers, or face victimisation.  “These are sorry issues that children have to deal with and it’s sad to know that the perpetrators are the very people that are being paid to mould our children academically,” Adams said.

Other concerns raised by students included why parents engage children in prostitution to meet their needs; lesbianism in Linden; young girls engaging in sexual relations with older men for money; sexual abuse by parents and the failure to take action in such cases.

As the Department of Education and other local institutions grapple with the issues, Chairman of the Linden Fund Dr Vincent Adams said the fund remains committed to doing its best to aid Linden. He challenged head teachers and administrators to pay keen attention to instilling discipline in the children they serve. “You need to start by addressing simple things,” he said, noting his displeasure with the Linden Spelling Bee, where only two schools turned up on time and the others came as much as two hours late. “This is not a good picture. It is a very poor show of discipline,” he said.

The two-day conference is being facilitated by US based-Guyanese Dr Ivy Bakker-Mitchell, Francine Gomes-Brotherson, Steve Henry, Dr Walter Kyte and Linda Felix. It is part of the activities for the observances of the 40th anniversary of Linden. The conference targets administrators and teachers in Linden’s education system, and it was designed to cover early childhood education, effective communication and good classroom/instructional practices, among other topics. Plans are already in train to take the conference to the national level and Minister of Education Shaik Baksh has offered his support. The first day of the conference targeted schools’ heads and administrators, while day two is for teachers.

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