Reform citizenship laws
Two West African nations yesterday pledged to reform their laws so that women can pass on their citizenship to their children.
Liberia and Senegal are currently among a group of at least 30 countries that allow only fathers to pass their citizenship on to children from marriages with a foreigner.
The Bahamas is also among that group of 30.
Under our laws, a child born to a Bahamian woman who is married to a foreigner is not automatically entitled to Bahamian citizenship. The child may apply for Bahamian citizenship by the age of 18.
The Free National Movement (FNM) government attempted to remove this blatantly discriminatory law from the books in a 2002 referendum.
It was soundly rejected.
The issue of a Bahamian woman passing on her citizenship to her child was among five questions in a referendum that was highly politicized and ultimately played a part in the FNM’s defeat that same year.
Sixty-six percent of those who voted rejected the removal of gender discrimination from the constitution. In fact all of the questions were rejected by voters, including the creation of a national commission to monitor the standards of teachers; the creation of an independent parliamentary commissioner; the creation of an independent boundaries commission; and increasing the retirement age of judges from 60 to 65. Between 62.8 percent and 70.9 percent of voters voted against the reforms.
The United Nations Refugee Agency says that discrimination against women has contributed to an estimated 12 million stateless people around the world.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged other U.N.-member nations to amend discriminatory rules.
It is time that we take another look at our citizenship laws. But this time let’s not allow politics to confuse this issue of national and international importance.
The importance of good parents
Teachers often bear the brunt of criticisms when it comes to how students perform in the classroom.
The widely reported results of test scores and national grade averages typically draw public cries lamenting the lack of quality teachers in our classrooms, particularly in the public school system.
This is not singular to The Bahamas.
Good teachers matter. It has been proven time and again that having poor or indifferent teachers significantly limits student achievement and the fulfillment of their potential.
Various studies show that it can take students two to three years to catch up after spending just one year with a poor teacher.
Still, there are other factors that determine how a student performs overall.
Teachers face many difficulties, including student indiscipline when it comes to work ethic and poor behavior. They also face, in too many instances, a lack of support by parents and guardians.
The parental role in quality education should not be underestimated.
A recent column published in The New York Times on “better parenting” points to studies that show students whose parents often read books with them during the first year of primary school performed better in school, compared to students whose parents read to them infrequently or not at all.
The research also indicated that just asking your child how their school day was and showing genuine interest in their learning can have a similar impact as hours of private tutoring.
This is something that can be done by every parent, regardless of their educational level or economic or social background.
It is a fact that parent involvement affects student achievement, specifically involvement that supports children’s learning at home.
Researchers said it is a more powerful driver of achievement than parents attending Parent Teacher Association and school board meetings.
There is no doubt that teachers should be held accountable when it comes to how students perform. Not only should we reform teacher training and compensation. More parents need to realize the important role they play in how well their child performs in school and become more engaged in their child’s educational development.
No doubt, we need better teachers. But we also need better parents. This can make every teacher more accountable and effective.