What about the children who did not make the top one per cent?

Dear Editor,

We’ve become so engrossed in the celebration and prestige of our loved ones or those we know who have placed in the top 1 per cent at the National Grade Six Assessment that we are endorsing a fundamentally flawed education system where thousands of Guyanese are neglected and deprived educationally.  While we celebrate the top one per cent, thousands of others become dejected, and are scared to reveal their marks. Soon they are lost away in the public secondary school system where many teachers perpetuate the stereotype that their students are not ‘academically inclined,’ so they are not challenged or guided like those in the top schools.

But it’s not just the teachers, society in general casts judgement on teens and preteens based on the uniforms they wear; one is not thought to be smart or destined for greatness or a successful, prestigious career unless one is adorned in the colours of a senior secondary school.

Why aren’t all secondary schools offering quality education? Why is it that only those students in senior secondary schools, private schools and a few other good schools have access to qualified teachers, relatively modern classrooms and the chance to study most of the subjects offered at the CXC level? What about late bloomers who did not seize the opportunity to excel at the primary level? Do you just count them out of life by sentencing them to the aforementioned circumstances? Circumstances where the majority of our youth become more vulnerable to everything negative (drugs, rape, teenage pregnancy, HIV, gambling, etc) rather than becoming academically inclined?

The majority of our youths end up throwing their lives away unconsciously by not realising the implication of some simple decisions. We failed to provide them (those not in the senior secondary schools) with an enabling environment so they could learn to realise the importance of acquiring the requisite tools to succeed in life.

In the absence of an enabling learning environment, these impressionable youths gravitate to everything but education. It is therefore my contention, that what is offered by secondary schools which are not classified as senior cannot be categorised as an education, but rather an opportunity or platform for our youths to squander their potential. The end results is thousands of young men going to school with comically altered pants, young girls using their uniforms to express the latest fashion trends, even the outrageous ones. It seems as though only senior secondary schools enforce the dress code or caution students about their decorum.

But what can we do about those not so successful students? Can’t we offer them more than our tears, or a consoling phrase? Our government is more focused on obtaining superficial successes like the millennium goals of education throughout the country by building more schools, instead of improving the education system. Why should we remain silent and allow a system to guide  a minority to success, while the majority face a bleaker future?

Yours faithfully,
Kiev Chesney

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