We have said several times before that there is great concern over the educational process in The Bahamas in general, in Abaco in particular.
Reports are that as many as 30 percent of students have not logged on to the public virtual system.
In the case of Abaco, this means that for three years, Dorian and COVID have disrupted education on the island.
Many parents and students have seen it as an opportunity to make money with the rebuilding taking place, and wages going through the ceiling. A 14-year-old claimed he was making $100 a day.
That’s ok for the short term, but the long-term implications must not be ignored. Once the rebuilding slows down and we just return to normal, thousands of students will have missed three years of education, lack the qualifications to graduate, and find themselves in a job market at a great disadvantage.
Thousands of students have not returned to school, in person, or virtually, since grade 7, 8 or nine, and are now over 16 so that they can legally leave school. But they have no qualifications, not a high school diploma or even a single BJC.
Employers will take advantage of them offering minimum wage and substandard conditions.
They will be stuck in this position for the rest of their lives.
Parents must not see only the immediate results. They must help their children think of long-term consequences.
There are a few institutions that will offer them the opportunity to make up for the year missed, but are they prepared to pay the price? Our observations are they are not and this bodes for a dark future for many frustrated individuals.
Parents have been complaining about the lack of resources to get online. Organizations like Rotary provided devices and days to enable students to participate in virtual learning. Some of the devices have been used for everything but school. Some have been sold.
With the announcement of face-to-face classes, some parents have bemoaned the lack of money for uniforms and materials. We acknowledge that some families are severely challenged, but most students who flaunt expensive cell phones don’t have pens, pencils and geometry sets.
Clearly priorities are wrong!
There are also reports of some students being rude, disruptive, and reluctant to complete assignments. There is clearly an issue with parents controlling their own children, but teachers can certainly not be expected to tolerate this.
For teachers, virtual classes are not easy. It is more difficult to determine if a student is focused, challenging to mark work, and impossible to ensure compliance. Disruptive students have to be muted. The ministry has admitted that there is a teacher shortage, which means teachers are being tasked to reach more than their average quota of students.
The price of education might be high, but the cost of ignorance is immeasurable!
There are two major schools built by the charities after Dorian which still have not opened since September 2019!
We are waiting for Green Turtle and Patrick J. Bethel High
schools to open, and we ask when.
When will they open?
— Laureen Singh