I was reading a news item on line about illegal schools operating in the United Kingdom, that caused me to reflect on the Guyana situation. In our present situation there are some private schools which leave much to be desired in terms of conditions, including furniture and washrooms.
Someone with some level of academic background can easily start a private school in an enclosed bottom house. All that is needed are a chalkboard and some chairs and tables. Forget about ventilation, library books, computer access, adequate toilet and water facilities and even qualified teachers. It is enough to employ some individuals with some passes at CXC. All that is required is for teachers to teach from a text and mark the pupils’ books.
Most of such schools are driven by greed. They are businesses that care little about national ethos, patriotism and inter-school activities. Many of these schools are trying to please parents who believe that they pay their money and they do not like to see their children at school sports, rallies etc. They want their children to be engaged in classwork at all times.
Many of these schools do not have adequate school records such as admission and promotion ledgers, subject guides, progress reports and records of work. Hence, children are not properly groomed by not being exposed to a school that is structured and one that moulds the mind and body. The Ministry of Education has, for some time now, ignored or tolerated the rise of such schools
in our landscape. Many of these schools do harm to our children because of some of the prevailing conditions mentioned above. Also, such schools seem to complement the state schools especially at Grade 7. A significant number of these children who do badly at the Grade Six Assessment end up going to these schools because parents are not happy about the schools in which they were placed. Also at the government schools these children are not properly catered for as they cannot cope with the regular curriculum.
At the nursery level, because of the age stipulation at the government schools, many private schools accommodate children who are very young, allowing them to sit in the nursery classes.
Indirectly, the government schools benefit in that private schools help to reduce the overcrowding in the former.
It would be interesting to read the New Education Act when it becomes a reality, to see how these fly-by-night schools will be addressed. While the old guidelines are there, we still find schools operating below the minimum requirement, and they have been doing this for very many years.
It is hoped that regulating our education landscape will not be too daunting a task for those who have such responsibilities.
(Name and address supplied)