President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman is concerned that in the face of the country’s dire economic circumstances, some schools are unduly expensing parents by insisting on lavish graduation ceremonies.
She contended that school graduations had lost the intended focus of the children’s transition and had become “elaborate shows”.
Pointing out that some parents of primary school students are being asked to pay as much $500, in addition to accessories and outfits, in order for their children to be part of the momentous occasion, Redman cautioned that the situation was getting out of hand.
“I think that as a society and, more importantly, as a sector, persons involved in education have to seriously look at what we deem to be graduations in this country. I think that especially in these difficult times, we have to rethink our approach to graduations, especially as it relates to expenditure. Children are transitioning from one phase of their school lives to another and in some instances from school into the wider society, but we have to look at how this is done,” Redman told Barbados TODAY.
“To my mind, it does not involve the spending of hundreds of dollars just to reserve a location that is really, often times, far too expensive. It should not involve expenditure on clothes and makeup. I think we need to make these ceremonies simpler and more meaningful in their simplicity, so that the focus is where it should be, which is a successful transitioning,” she added.
The trade unionist also argued that by hosting these costly affairs, schools were essentially denying poorer children an opportunity to be part of what should be one of the cherished hallmark moments of their lives.
“I see no reason, especially at the primary level, why students cannot graduate in their school uniforms and perhaps gowns and caps that the schools keep and rent at reasonable prices and retain for successive years. This could also occur at the secondary level, and if persons want to move from that graduation ceremony to have a different type of celebration, then that it is fine,” Redman argued.