No one in his/her right mind could or should blame Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd for the dismal state of the educational plant in The Bahamas today and the terrible national grades. This phenomenon has come about due to any number of factors. With your leave, Madam Editor, allow me to flesh out one or two of them.
Respective to the perennial disrepairs of the physical school buildings, successive administrations have allowed the Ministry of Works (MOW) to evolve as the general contractor for all publicly-owned buildings, inclusive of schools.
The layers of bureaucracy within that and other ministries is a guarantee for disaster. The MOW is and has been challenged for eons. In fact, in reality, few ministers actually run their ministries.
It is clear that regular assessments as to the state of repairs of the bulk of our schools are not done on a timely basis.
There is, then, this mad rush each year by MOW and selected contractors, some of whom are known supporters of the political administration of the day.
Agreed contractual times often run right out and work is still being done on the day schools reopen. This is under Lloyd’s remit but he’s not expected to personally visit and inspect each of the schools in the nation.
Brother Lloyd is a professional educator, a devout man of God, a decent husband and father, a long-time community activist and builder.
As such, I am more than persuaded that he, despite the occasional political off-the-cuff gaffes, is focused on matters within his remit. So, to blame the minister for the national grade average is ludicrous.
Some parents, where they live under the same roof as their child/children, seldom, I am told, get involved in their homework.
In some cases, the parents did not complete high school and are semi-illiterate or worse.
Another factor is that around 60 percent of births in The Bahamas are to single mothers.
Due to the rapid and almost unchecked development, growth and proliferation of the internet and social media platforms, the average Bahamian child may not be checking for traditional means of acquiring and storing hard data and information which are necessary for economic and societal advancement.
The results? Delusions, soap operas and abject foolishness.
Witness how many of our people, young and old, tend to live life and view it as a game.
The educational system then perpetuates itself from decade to decade.
Yes, the politicians set policy, such as it is, but the civil servants and parents, along with the children, are all parts of the bigger problem.
Teachers are not happy about terms and conditions.
Hence, some teachers’ zest for the job of educating and teaching our children may not be as solid as it should be.
Some classroom sizes are too big for individual instructions and tutoring.
The result? The children are not checking for teacher. At home, the hapless parents, in some cases, are ignorant to what their child/children is/are learning, if anything.
Solutions? The minister and the administration should give serious thought to introducing a financial motivational scheme.
For each pass at grade C, a student from junior high school straight up to the University of The Bahamas would receive a government-backed savings bond for $100.
Those who secure a grade B would receive $150 and those with an A would get $200.
I would almost guarantee that such financial awards would dramatically improve the national grade average.
Where will the money come from? By direct savings that would result to the national purse by having fewer Bahamians being forced into a life of crime; fewer repeat visits as inmates to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services; fewer unwanted children; an increase in personal accountability and responsibility; and, more importantly, the inculcation of the absolute necessity of marketable educational and vocational skills.
So, Minister Lloyd is not the problem. We all are.
– Ortland H. Bodie Jr.