Call for redefinition of ‘good’ school

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, August 23, 2022

WESTERN BUREAU:

Former Caribbean Union of Teachers President Dr Colin Greene has called for a change in how schools are viewed, noting that the current system of judging institutions based on academic performances of students could result in some being stifled.

Speaking on the first day of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association’s (JTA) 58th annual conference on Monday, Greene said that parents must be willing to prioritise their children’s overall development instead of only focusing on grades.

“Most parents want their children to go to what they perceive to be ‘elite’ schools, and so parents and the general public are normally of the view that schools should be categorised according to academic results. If we continue in this trend, ‘bottom’ schools will never have a chance to become better if parents are not willing to take a chance on these schools,” said Greene.

“We have to redefine what a good school is in the minds of all, including educators, because every school serves a purpose in society. We must be at the table to discuss how to reconstitute schools that are failing, and how to transform schools and education,” he added.

Education Minister Fayval Williams had announced in March that the funding model for low-performing schools would be revisited. She said that the one-size-fits-all model, where resources are allocated equally per student, could be abolished.

At that time, there was concern about the funding model being based on a divide over how student performance is assessed and whether disadvantaged schools should receive preferential investment.

Greene also told Monday’s meeting that there is a need to re-evaluate how knowledge can be most effectively imparted in schools, noting that not all students absorb information in the same way.

“In our ambition to provide education for all, the individual needs of students, to some extent, have been extended. In some areas, students with high potential have been neglected, while in other areas, students who have different needs were treated equally, and there is nothing more unequal than equal treatment of unequal people,” said Greene.

“We have to rethink how we do schools and for whom. We need to have a clear understanding of who we teach, and I am talking about the circumstances from which they come to you as an educator. Schools cannot be one size fits all,” Greene added.

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