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The Editor Speaks: Cayman Islands battle ground – “our schools”

Colin Wilsonweb2Just recently we reported on the assault of a teacher by a pupil at the Clifton Hunter high school.

In one of our stories today we have featured a story on school bullying.

CITN/Cayman27, after their own Freedom of Information request, revealed last month that over the past five years, almost 2,750 pupils were suspended from secondary schools in Grand Cayman!

In September last year school inspectors revealed teaching standards across Cayman’s schools were “significant under-performance at all stages of education”, and even worse – “unsatisfactory” – the lowest option on the grading scale. This lowest grade was applied to 10 out of the 15 government schools.

Education Minister, Tara Rivers, said after this damning report that, “This government has no intention of having these reports sit on a shelf. The results are in and the work continues. Improvements need to be made. We are shifting to a system of accountability for all.”

The remedial plan she outlined included mentoring, coaching and training for under-performing teachers as well as more rigorous monitoring of lessons and evaluations of teaching quality.

She said new targets were set for reading levels, particularly at primary schools, and special educational needs staff have now been employed in all government schools.

The inspectors highlighted a lack of resources to deal with students with severe behavioral difficulties.

The Clifton Hunter high school was particularly singled out for its open plan layout, which they said, was a “barrier to improvement.”

Earlier this year the Law Reform Commission asked for the public’s input into how to combat bullying not only in our schools but also mentioned “cyberbullying” that is now ”becoming an increasing issue.”

“The problem of bullying is complex,” the commissioners wrote. “Any intervention to address the issues should extend to all of those involved: victims, bullies, school staff, parents, the government and the broader society.”

So, who is to blame?

Is it the government for inadequate funding?

Is it the teachers?

Is it the parents?

Is it social media/Internet?

Is it the programmes on television?

Is it the war games played on our computers?

Is it the movies that have become more explicit with violence the key plot motivation?

Is it the churches who pretend nothing wrong is happening when their attendances are falling and do not follow up on the children who drop out when they become adult and fail to ask the question “why?”

Is it the media who pick out their “persons of the week” to blame – usually the government of the day?

One thing, however, we can agree on, bullying in schools is not new and I believe that is the start of the problem – a problem that was going on when I went to school 60 plus years ago. However, I do not ever recall one incident of a teacher being assaulted by a pupil.

We have never fully addressed why our schools have become a battleground.

We have never found the answer to who is to blame.

On a teacher’s website it not surprisingly put the blame on parenting.

In a survey conducted by the Washington Post it said “seven in 10 surveyed believe public schools are inadequate”. The same survey, though said “76 percent say that parents are to blame”!

If we are truly going to improve schools we need and require increased parental participation. This means more than getting parents into the schools to complain to teachers and administrators about why their kids can’t do their homework or pass the test. True parental involvement has mothers, fathers, grandparents, and such involved in the learning process. They know what’s happening in the classroom. They ensure their kids are doing their homework. They identify learning experiences in the home or in the community. They take responsibility for their kids, and hold them accountable For maximizing their school hours.

Parents are our first teachers and our most consistent ones. Small kids will pattern their words and actions after what their parents do. We read because our parents do. We do our homework because our parents prioritize it. We bring home good grades because our parents encourage it. And if they don’t, we don’t care.

Many of the problems our schools face — rising drop-out rates, limited reading and math skills, truancy, etc. — can all be attributed, in part, to parent apathy.


I believe everyone of the reasons I gave in who is to blame are all integral parts of the problem and we send our children into this battle field most of the year – our schools.


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