Fri | Jan 22, 2021

Letter of the Day | Every child must be accounted for

Published:Wednesday | January 13, 2021 | 12:17 AM

THE EDIT OR, Madam:

I have never felt so disheartened in all my life over a situation that hardly has anything to do with me. Tears are welling up in my eyes and an emotion of discouragement in my heart. I watch the news and listen to our leaders, and I wonder which veranda are they sitting on? Which corner are they sharing with our children, our youth? Then I remember that they are in their ‘New Norm Bubble’.

How can you see the hurt and loss in the children’s eyes when you are literally practising social distancing and sanitising yourself from the needs of our children, our youth? Plans are made daily about the education of students and no one has come and spoken with the teachers – teachers who care – or the parents who have hands-on experience of despair.

They sit in their boardroom playing chess with education, and the students are the pawns – that’s all they can be. Care packages – checkmate; tablets – checkmate; stagger reopening – checkmate; mobile intervention – checkmate. But who is saying ‘checkmate’? That is not the voice of the students, that is not the voice of the parents, that is not the voice of the teachers. Ah who den?

NO LONGER INTERESTED IN LEARNING

Take a walk through the corridors of reality. Who a rub out dem hand middle? The group has gotten bigger. From grades seven to eleven have graduated to the practice. Not only boys, but girls. Look in the bars and go-go clubs? Who is selling, ordering or on the poles? Our young students who are no longer interested in learning.

How many of you enjoy your phones? What do you enjoy doing on them? WhatsApping, Facebooking, Twittering, Instagramming, YouTubing – yea! Now think of the students – they enjoy these things, too. Why – pictures, gossip, videos. Exactly! No one enjoys prolonged reading on a laptop or a tablet, so can you imagine school on a phone.

Then again, as adults we complain about phone companies eating off our credits and we can barely find the next money to add credit and data plan. What is a phone or tablet without the Internet? Lawd have mercy on the children.

One of my worst nightmares, as a teacher, is marking the students’ books on WhatsApp. That is the platform that the students are on. My phone is tired, because although there is WhatsApp Web, I can’t find a magic button that says mark it here. And even here with a class of 20, only four students are always on. Where are the others? And don’t tell us to find them – we are practising social distancing, too.

TAKE A PAGE FROM THE PRIVATE SCHOOLS

The Government and principals of government schools can take a page from the private schools. Fix the schools to accommodate the students. Half on morning shift and half on the evening shift. Half is better than nothing.

We need to spend money for the students’ benefit, not to pay more individuals and purchase more gadgets and vehicles to go around to do mobile intervention. Get buses that are out of commission because of lack of passengers, and let them carry only students. Have wardens at the schools to ensure that protocols are observed.

We are building an army of idlers, ganja smokers, scammers, ladies and men of the day. Our drive for this year: Every child must be accounted for.

BARBARA