As the country observes Education Month which begins today, and celebrates its teachers, there is a need to pause and reflect on what has been achieved over the last 50 years of free education.
Apart from the misnomer that education is free, Barbados’ achievements on the educational sphere have been plenty. We have doctors, lecturers, marine biologists, diplomats, educators who are continuing to make their mark the world over.
But is that all it’s about? Fifty years on we cannot help but wonder if we haven’t missed the mark with this generation who for the most part it seems have no understanding of what education or free education means.
For some school is a chore, an obligation not a privilege. For others its the chance to parade around school or town with the latest expensive bag, shoes, and cell phones, but with very few books related to the subjects being taught on any given day. Without so much as a care for the trouble it took their parents to get them, they pose with their gear and oftentime forget to do their homework and other projects which would give marks.
Several youngsters ignore the free buses that would get them to school on time opting to ride the minibuses and when they do arrive at school they pay little or no attention to lessons and wait eagerly for lunch time and school to end.
Which brings us to another point. Have parents of school-aged children forgotten what being educated is about? They seem to have no qualms about shelling out large sums of cash to make sure their children look hot for school. What is that about?
We’re not going to be self righteous and tell people how to raise their children, but surely some of adult care givers need to nip the demands in the bud. How does having an expensive bag or pair of shoes contribute to learning? Some of these same parents can write a book of excuses as to why they cannot attend PTA meetings, parent teacher conferences or even a meeting with the principal only going if and when their child/children are threatened with suspension or expulsion.
Recently, some were overheard saying they don’t know why they bother to send their children to school because they won’t find jobs when they leave with one woman saying “I might as well keep he home when de days come cause what he could do with maths when he wants to work wid he hands building cupboards and t’ing”.
Parents who benefited from going to school don’t seem to see the correlation between subjects and have now adopted a narrow focus and the mind set that attending is futile.
Down the road parents and their children would see the error of this way of thinking but it might be too late and they would have to spend a couple hundreds dollars to get the lessons that were free a few years prior.
Now is as good a time as any to call on parents and guardians to stand up and say to all youngsters make wise use of your time, as there is nothing wrong with believing that those who aim high, think clean and fear God, will get their just rewards.
There is nothing wrong with children striving for the top of their class. They should understand that through toil they can reach the stars.
They should never settle for mediocrity and parents shouldn’t either. There is nothing wrong with using the knowledge that you have to get what you want. Let they who excel receive the prize.
Unfortunately Barbadians seem to think there is something wrong with being the best at anything.
Those students who enroll at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies, Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Polytechnic and waste time should remember they were countless others who didn’t make it and they should grab hold of the opportunities that free education allows.