In Guyana personal finances and status in society play an all but unspoken role in how our children are educated. The rich and powerful will definitely send their children to private schools but the poor and the powerless have no choice but to send their children to public schools. Of course, educating their children is the number one priority of the vast majority of parents, but only if they have the financial resources to do so. Most parents would also like to send their children to private schools because of the colossal failure of the public schools but unfortunately they cannot. This means not all students have access to a school with decent teacher-student ratios, a good learning environment, better qualified teachers and more in the way of ‘extras’ like art and music classes. The poor already know that the PPP regime does not care much about the public school system but we want to remind it that a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
It may be a practical option and a personal choice for a Minister of Education to send her child to a private school, but it shows that the Minister does not have confidence in the public school system, but it is good for the poor students. This reveals a bankrupt mentality and lack of integrity. This type of double standard and hypocrisy is also evident in the public hospitals which the PPP continues to praise as having a good medical service although they always run to the United States to seek medical attention for a simple flu or fever.
Seeing what the Minister has done, how can she convince parents to send their children to the public schools? It is clear that she does not want her child to suffer from a system where children fail the basics – Maths and English.
The Minister’s actions are a public condemnation of the public school system and show her firm belief in the private schools. The parents who pay the piper get to determine the level of education for their children, but at the same time those rich parents are contributing to the destruction of the public schools. Her behaviour is the embodiment of the PPP leadership and is perfectly in line with the ultra-low standards they have for the public school system.
Making pronouncements on education in Guyana requires a certain amount of moral authority and integrity; but the Minister’s constant praise of the public schools is hypocritical. Is the Minister so naïve as to believe that she would not be seen as hypocritical by parents and children?
Finally, we are not arguing that parents do not have a right to decide what is best for their own children in terms of education. What we have here, however, is something more disturbing than parents making a choice about what is best for their own sons and daughters. This is a case of the Minister of Education ensuring that her progeny will not be subjected to the failing policies of the public school system that she herself is promoting. It is for other people’s children.