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Teaching of reading must be a priority

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07.JUL.06

Editor: When I read or listen to those who are against the present thrust for Universal Secondary Education in SVG, I wonder if the concern is really about our children. To those who say we are not ready I ask; will we be ready in 2020?

The School Leaving Examination was not working, for generally teachers and students saw the children in the senior classes as rejects. In some schools children repeated the junior classes and were skipped to Senior 1 after they had passed the age limit for Common Entrance.{{more}} Children were leaving the primary school illiterate but that is not a reason for keeping them there, maybe as Bassy implies, until some of them are 20. Editor, I say yes to secondary education NOW, but I do have some concerns.

Supporting links for the so-called failures are not strong enough. Are all children in the primary schools being made ready or is the emphasis still on the brighter ones? Slow children need special attention in the primary schools from the early grades. The teaching of reading must be a priority. I will bet that there is a high correlation between reading ability and Common Entrance marks.

Some secondary schools get, as their intake, an unfair percentage of children who failed. This de-motivates both teachers and students. All such schools MUST have remedial specialists on their staff. Research has shown that children in D-streams develop a D-stream mentality and do not perform well. Giving a school an intake of failures may well turn it into a D-stream school. Therefore, the schools should be zoned and after the first 300 positions students should be sent to specific schools in order to obtain a fair distribution of students.

A first form of non-readers cannot be expected to cope with the rigid academic time table in our secondary schools therefore; remedial work in Math and Reading should be continued for the entire first term. If this is done the students will be motivated and teachers encouraged, and the 1 or 2% who really cannot manage will pick up social skills that cannot be obtained as primary school “rejects” waiting for their “age to up”.

Retired Teacher

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