Schools wast­ing teach­ing hours

Post - - OPINION -

IT IS THAT time of the year when par­ents, teach­ers and stake­hold­ers re­flect on an aca­demic year that has whizzed past. Emo­tions are mixed with teach­ers breath­ing a sigh of re­lief as they hand over the reins of their dis­charges to par­ents, most of whom are at their places of em­ploy­ment.

There will be feel­ings of ju­bi­la­tion and dis­ap­point­ment for par­ents as their chil­dren bring home their fi­nal 2018 progress cards or re­ports.

For the Grade 12 pupils, there will be doubt and un­cer­tainty about the choice of ca­reer paths for next year.

An ail­ing econ­omy and job un­cer­tainty is sure to rear its ugly head and cause frus­tra­tion and hope­less­ness for the par­ents of chil­dren at­tend­ing pub­lic schools.

In­creased school fees, and the es­ca­lat­ing costs of uni­forms and sta­tionery are sure to in­fringe on the pock­ets of cash-strapped par­ents, who must bud­get for ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties like rent, elec­tric­ity, wa­ter and food. It is a time too when young chil­dren are at their most vul­ner­a­ble.

The early com­ple­tion of ex­ams has left scores of chil­dren law­less as they do not at­tend school and of­ten en­gage in un­savoury ac­tiv­i­ties. Shop­ping malls and other pub­lic at­trac­tions are start­ing to fill up with learn­ers who are on hol­i­day.

With re­gard to the early com­ple­tion of the fi­nal exam and the con­comi­tant non-at­ten­dance of learn­ers, I urge school gov­ern­ing bod­ies, par­ents, com­mu­nity lead­ers, su­per­in­ten­dents of ed­u­ca­tion and coun­cil­lors to delve deeper into the hap­pen­ings at their schools which im­pacts on the qual­ity of teach­ing and learn­ing and the per­for­mance of chil­dren.

Shouldn’t the last term of school be a se­ri­ous pe­riod of in­ter­ac­tion be­tween learn­ers, teach­ers and books? Should it not be a pe­riod of deep aca­demic in­ter­ac­tion? Alas, what we ob­serve in the fourth term are many schools en­gag­ing in sports ac­tiv­i­ties, debu­tante balls, con­certs, ex­cur­sions and fun runs.

It is un­fath­omable how se­ri­ous aca­demic ad­vance­ment can take place in any school that en­gages it­self with one or more of the above ac­tiv­i­ties in a term that should gear chil­dren for aca­demic dis­ci­pline and ex­cel­lence; all this against the back­drop of the early com­mence­ment of ex­ams and early clo­sure of schools.

Has any­one con­sid­ered the vast num­ber of teach­ing hours lost as a re­sult of these pur­suits in the fourth term?

Ever won­dered why the most chil­dren per­form poorly aca­dem­i­cally and are not com­pe­tent in read­ing and maths?

Par­ents and other stake­hold­ers who have a gen­uine in­ter­est in the aca­demic and moral devel­op­ment of our chil­dren must be proac­tive and start to ques­tion the go­ings-on at their schools.

What, then, is the re­sult of the loss of many hours of aca­demic time?

Apart from aca­demic in­com­pe­tency we, as a so­ci­ety, are faced with a gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren who lack sound moral val­ues, good dis­ci­pline, cour­tesy, re­spect and com­mon sense to name but a few at­tributes.

What many par­ents and stake­hold­ers might fail to see is the com­pound ef­fect of this loss of in­struc­tion or teach­ing time over the years.

Cal­cu­late the num­ber of hours of in­struc­tion time lost in just one term and mul­ti­ply it by the num­ber of years the child spends at school.

Loss of teach­ing time also oc­curs at the end of other terms as well. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the con­trolled tests, it has be­come a norm for chil­dren to stay away from school.

Can the powers-that-be not see this sense­less waste of chil­dren’s in­struc­tion time?

Par­ents and in­ter­ested stake­hold­ers, take note that it is never too late to ques­tion and eval­u­ate how our chil­dren’s aca­demic time gets eroded in a va­ri­ety of ways.

It’s time to be­come dis­cern­ing, ob­ser­vant and to ques­tion how your school is be­ing run.

It is of­ten spec­u­lated that the Na­tional Cur­ricu­lum and As­sess­ment Pol­icy State­ment cur­ricu­lum is bur­den­some and that teach­ers are of­ten un­able to com­plete their teach­ing pro­gramme. The time that is lost through the early com­ple­tion of term-end tests or ex­ams and the fruit­less stay­ing away of learn­ers can eas­ily be used for the aca­demic ad­vance­ment.

I hope the 2019 aca­demic year is go­ing to be one of min­i­mal wastage of aca­demic time, in­struc­tion time and teach­ing time.

DENNY MOONSAMY Re­tired ed­u­ca­tor

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