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No child left behind?

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Tue, Sept 4, 2012

The new school year has begun with the usual air of optimism, as well the customary difficulties and hiccups. Parents have survived the stress in the past few months of getting their children ready for school. The sacrifices are enormous, especially in these difficult economic times and particularly for those at the bottom end of the earning scale.{{more}} It takes herculean effort and commitment to stay the course, but thankfully, most parents are making the effort.

It is also a harrying time for education officials, often faced with the unenviable task of having to juggle scarce material and human resources. We offer our support to them, as much as our solidarity with the parents, and ask for their continued exercise of patience, discretion and sensitivity in the face of the many challenges.

Parents also need to maintain the enthusiasm and interest displayed at the opening of the school year, at the time of the Common Entrance Exam, at the announcement of examination results, all through the year. In particular, participation in Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) is necessary to develop much needed cooperation between school and home. Similarly, Government itself must ensure that its relations with the teachers’ union is of such a nature, as to facilitate and enhance the educational development thrust.

A word of congratulations is in order at this time, for all those responsible for ensuring that the Kingstown Government School was ready for the new term and that the children are not deprived of precious time.

Indeed “No child left behind” is a favourite slogan of Prime Minister Gonsalves in his quest to ensure that all of our children get equal opportunities for educational advancement, the bedrock of our development thrust. Success in this venture demands a multi-sided effort on the part of all those involved – the Government and Ministry of Education, principals and teachers, parents and students. It requires consistent and meticulous implementation of programmes and decisions at all levels.

One particular issue related to the “No child left behind” policy, is one raised in our issue of last Friday. It concerns young Yanick Charles of Chauncey, physically disabled following an accident two years ago. His re-entry into the education system is being hampered, supposedly because of a lack of appropriate facilities at most of our schools. How many more are there like him?

Our society is becoming, all too slowly, more sensitive to the needs of citizens with physical or developmental challenges, but there has been unsatisfactory progress in creating the necessary enabling environment for them. Surely, a solution to Yanick’s situation cannot be beyond us? We must find creative ways to deal with these challenges to ensure that Yanick, and others similarly disadvantaged, get the opportunities afforded the rest of us.

The Paralympics taking place in London show us what persons encumbered in one form or another are capable of, if the facilities are provided and the opportunities offered. May the Games provide us with the inspiration to ensure that Yanick and others with challenges are treated fairly and not “left behind”.

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