Schools wasting teaching hours
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