CSEC WAKE-UP CALL

14 Aug
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The voice behind the wake-up call…sharing in her honours moment. Yes, she is teacher’s pet

At about 5:00 a.m I heard my phone going off alerting me I was receiving whatsapp messages. I ignored it because I was just falling back into my slumber after being awake from after 3:00 a.m. Clearly this person needed to get to me because the call came in at 6:15 a.m. By then I had fallen asleep, but the light sleeper I am couldn’t sleep through the ring. I cursed under my breath. Through groggy eyes and an almost disoriented head, I grabbed the phone which demonstrated my intense anger. I was ready to explode on the person on the other end of the line. But I was beaten to it. No sooner than I opened the line I was greeted with a high pitched, screaming voice thrilled with excitement:

“Miss Reiddddddd!!!!! Miss, miss, I passed them. All eight of them.”

I opened my mouth to speak but closed it as she rattled on excitedly:

Miss, I got six grade ones. Four of them are straight A profiles. Guess which subject is included in the four?

She did not wait for me to answer. She blurted “YOURS” and screamed with delight. Her excitement was contagious. I was completely disarmed and was grinning from ear to ear.

Miss just one little little disappointment though. I got one grade two and a grade three in French. I didn’t want any three.
I spoke for the first time:

Congratulations baby girl. You did an excellent job. By the way, your grade three is a pass. In the mix of things it is almost negligible. What’s done is already done. Besides, you have eight subjects. If you had got a grade four instead of three, you would have passed only seven.   Celebrate your achievement and look towards the road ahead.  Time for tertiary.”

Miss I’m so excited. I’m going by school to stamp my papers and take them to UTECH today. Miss come school today nuh. Mi want see you when me reach” (UTECH reads: University of Technology)

I laughed loudly and she joined me. I gave her the disappointing no.

She was so excited, she was oblivious to the fact that she woke me from my slumber.  But at this point, it did not matter. What mattered was the fact that she passed all her CSEC subjects and will matriculate to higher studies. Who wouldn’t be excited?  As I listened to her talk, and I analysed the scenario, I thought to myself: ‘this girl is going to go places.  I then ended the conversation with the words:

Okay my dear and congratulations again“.

With laughter in her voice she said “Thank you Miss“.  Her ‘thank you’ was filled with love and affection.

Talk about emotional. I returned her sentiments and disconnected the call. Smiling, I rolled over and willed myself back to sleep but I couldn’t. The moment kept playing in my mind. I reached for the phone and checked the whatsapp messages she sent. They were all voice notes willing me to wake up so she could share her good news with me. I smiled a new.

She was not afraid to wake me up. Why? Because I made it easy for her. I was interested in her well-being; she worked hard, was rewarded for it, and next to her parents, she wanted me to be one of the first persons to share that with. How can I not be touched by this? My Teacher’s Pet. https://educatorrainereidinspires.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/teachers-pet/ This girl graduated high school earning diploma with honours, now she ACED her CSEC examinations. Look out world she is coming.

For the hundredth time I realized that these are the moments that makes being a teacher counts.

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NAKED IS THE NEW FASHION

30 Jul

I don’t get it! Suddenly, naked has become the new fashion.

The sheer is trending and I get that. Better yet, I love that!. It is very good especially with the extreme rise in temperature. It actually saves some of us from being cooked, baked or fried alive. But what I don’t get is this: why is it that the fashion is of such where women can’t even wear underwear with them? Or the little piece beneath the sheer IS the underwear?

Nakedness being paraded as fashion

I mean, to each his own but what happened to “leave some things for the imagination?” It is the hot trend that has saturated the world of celebrities, and has effortlessly dominated red carpet events. I have seen it most prominent with the ‘Rihannas’, the ‘Beyonces’ and ‘J-Los’. Then I noticed the local trend. Where ever my eyes turn, there is a woman in one of those unfinished outfits. A quick browse of the various websites that so faithfully capture the beautiful moments at various events, reveals images of females of all shapes, sizes, and complexion wearing same. This is just horrible and if you think I’m exaggerating just look for yourself. Is this another in a series of Hollywood residues that it has trickled down to us?

Many things that we do especially as it relates to entertainment and fashion is often strongly influenced by the Hollywood celebrities whose lives and actions are often portrayed by media as perfect, and the one to be envied. But then again, who wouldn’t want to emulate what is projected? A life of glimmer and glam, money galore to do all you want and what you don’t want, and most importantly, success, upon success in the entertainment industry.

Totally naked..is this a bedtime outfit or what?

The naked sheer fashion this time around has fallen real flat in my unsolicited opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I think some of the sheer outfits are just real fabulous, gorgeous, sophisticated, edgey daring, just-drop-dead-need-to-be-in-my-closet. But the naked sheer… quite frankly, I find them really distasteful. At no time is sexy and naked synonymous. A woman can be provocative and daring without being naked. Then again, that’s just my opinion.

I am probably too old school. I thought I was daring and had a good sense of style. But to my displeasure, so many persons are wearing them I am coerced to question whether or not I am truly fashionable.

What do you think my readers?

HIGH SCHOOL MOTHERS

29 Jul

HIGH SCHOOL MOTHERS.

Cheers!

28 Jul

Cheers!.

HIGH SCHOOL MOTHERS

25 Jul

Her name was *Camille. She was always neat. The six gores, box neck/bust blue tunic, with the zipper on the left side and a single pocket on the right, and a belt whether buckle or hook that we wore then looked perfect on Camille. Well not for very long.

This was and still is the design of the uniform

In third form her body started changing and the once perfectly fitted uniforms suddenly seemed to be getting too small for her. Initially we thought it was the natural puberty phase that all girls go through. her back no longer seemed to be the most appropriate place to carry her knapsack and suddenly traded places with her tummy. Then the rumours started. The pointing of fingers and the constant whispers of:

“Camille pregnant”. “Look how she carry the bag fi hide it”. “She nuh draw har belt tight anymore”.

As rumours swirled, Camille became more withdrawn. The tension in our classroom was palpable as everyone saw the changes in her body and attitude; we heard the rumours; but we couldn’t tell if they were true. We were bursting at the seams of our uniform with curiosity until…

“Camille, that boy deh over there so say that girl deh say another girl in 3F say you pregnant, a true? One curiously brave boy shouted close to the end of break period.

Everything stopped. Nobody moved. The classroom was a perfect tableau with the theme “oh no you didn’t”.

“Camille answer me nuh. A true say you pregnant and a dats why you start walk with yuh bag in front of you?” He asked impatiently and forcefully.

Camille turned to look at him with eyes blazing with anger as she hurled an entire ream of insults punctuated with expletives in his direction. All that venom summed in one sentence “Mind your own business”. In the end, her anger gave way to hurt and she vociferously denied the allegations. A tearful Camille then took up her bag, placed it on her back and walked out the classroom and made her way to the Science lab. That was the last day Camille came to school.

We heard several months later she had a beautiful baby girl. I was sorry for Camille. The rumours were harsh and we all know how unkind students can be to each other. But as much as I was sorry for her, I wouldn’t want to trade places. Had the shoe been on the other foot I would not be here to right this post. Because between my impatient, stern and no-nonsense father and my ferocious, tender-hearted tygress (tiger) grandmother, I would surely bid this world farewell.

Throughout high school, there were several others, and with each case, I always felt a twinge of pain. That is why it came as no surprise that when I met *Samantha, in one of my fourth form class, and learnt she was the mother of a one year old, I felt the same twinge of pain. At 16 years old she was a single mom.

Samantha was often tired in class; late with assignments; frequently absent from school; hardly had lunch; little or no material for classes. Yet, she worked so hard and begged her teachers to have leniency with her as she tried to balance full time study while being a full time mom. And oh, did I mention that she worked after school and on weekends?

At 16 years old, her responsibilities were more than some adults.

By the end of eleventh grade, Samantha passed all eight subjects she sat at the CSEC level gaining three grades ones, four grade twos, and one grade three.

This is a great success from a child who had so many distractions. However, this is just one of the few successful stories. The Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites made a pronouncement that about SIXTY PERCENT (60%) of high school girls are moms. I would loved to have asked the minister where he got his information but regardless of where he got it, it is not good.

Pregnant teens at Women Centre in Jamaica

In institution where students should be students and their only job is to learn and grow and develop, and 60% of them is derailed and is now faced with two mammoth tasks even before they are mentally ready, suggests that we have a crisis on our hand.

While some high school moms situation is not like Samantha’s, many of them are like Samantha’s. When they come to school with all this baggage, the teaching and learning process is sure to become disrupted. They will, more often than not, inadvertently not get the most out of their classes as they are burden with adult tasks or responsibilities that they cannot effectively carry out.

How then can we be surprised when students are not meeting certain academic criteria at the end of their high school tenure? How then can society blame teachers for not doing their jobs? How then can we blame the programmes that are in schools? How then…? How then…? How then…? And I could ask many more ‘how then…’.
As a society we need to realize the place we are at; the dark holes that some of our children are in and unite to reduce this percentage.

There is no way it is acceptable for 60% of our high school girls to mothers.

What say you?

*name change

GSAT CELEBRATION

23 Jul

GSAT results are out…yupiee!!!

Students of St Richards Primary celebrating after the GSAT results were released.

The much anticipated Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) results are out. The print media was saturated with congratulatory publications for the many boys and girls who have worked hard, –and sacrificed a big part of their childhood (play) — and aced the examination. I too want to join in and congratulate these youngsters on their successful completion of one phase of their journey — especially those students who got perfect scores.

I am elated to see that the students who got perfect scores are not limited to the preparatory schools. I’m also elated that several students (not the usual 1,2,3, or 4) got perfect scores and it was not just girls. It is evidence of the abilities of our children.

The level of celebration of some of the parents superseded their exuberant youngster. Understandably so. Most parents toiled alongside their child/ren to ensure they were prepared for the examination. No surprises in that regard though, because each parent wanted his/her child to get the privilege of attending a prestige high school. I presumed some parents were so traumatized by the examination, that some even camped out close to the GSAT centres. You would believe they were the ones sitting the examination.

Some were not too happy with their results

Now results are out and they are reaping the rewards. Well…not all. While some celebrated, there were others who were grossly disappointed. This is because their child did not get the school of choice. It is not easy as a parent to watch the tears of your child flowing, and you cannot stop their tears from flowing.

With this disappointment, requests for transfer flowed in by the hundreds to the supposedly prestige high school. Some persons were successful in getting this transfer, while others were denied this.

Why seek transfer?
I cannot definitively posit justifications for individual’s request for transfer, but I will go out on a limb and say that some schools are not viewed to be of the same standard as others and hence, some parents think their child will not access quality education. Having interacted at with various institution, I must admit that there are some schools I would prefer not to send my child. While some may argue that the curriculum used in all schools is the same, there are other factors that handicap the effective impartation of same.

PASS?
As I zeroed in on the numerous facebook posts during the period, most of them started like this or close to this “Congratulations to my son/daughter/nephew/niece who pass his/her GSAT for…” and of course they rattle off the prestige high school. There is one word that had me thinking- “PASS”. Is GSAT a pass or fail examination or a mere placement test? To my knowledge, every child that sits GSAT is placed in a school where secondary education is imparted. Therefore, how do we get the word “pass” in the same sentence? Is this to say the students who did not receive the school of choice, or averages above 60% or 70% did not “pass”? Certainly, by the standards of the examination they did not fail, so what would we call it? Or is it that the congratulatory expressions were not just about pass or fail, but moreso about earning a place at the prestige institution?

He sure is happy with his results…celebrate he must

Regardless of what it is, celebrations are in order and no one can deny the young students that.

My only regret is that despite the many strides made in the development of education, system is still fractured to the point where there are so many schools that remain in such deplorable state that parents refuse to see them as viable institutions to educate their children.

What say you?

*Pictures taken from google images

GRADUATION ─ A TWISTED PRIORITY IN THE EDUCATION PROCESS

23 Jul

“Your name is on the list but I cannot allow you to be a part of the rehearsal process until your graduation fee is paid”
“But miss I did not get a voucher”
“That is because you have outstanding school fees for the past three years”
“So Miss how much money is that?”
“Go to the office, speak to one of the secretaries and they will calculate and let you know”

Background to dialogue
*Lisa crept into the graduating class rehearsal without being seen. She manage to disguise herself well among the 257 girls who were preparing to take that Final Walk. Luckily for me, I was working with a vigilant office staff. A voucher turned up in their file with the name Lisa Perez, indicating she paid her graduation fee. She was immediately summoned to the office. Long and short of it, she admitted accepting a voucher from a student who no longer needed hers as she was migrating prior to the graduation ceremony and would not be attending. She was told she will not join the line up; the money paid will be transferred towards her outstanding school fee. If she wanted to graduate, she needed to clear all the fees.

The Story continues…
That’s how I got involved. I was told not to admit her in rehearsals. This was three days before the graduation ceremony. Their valedictory Mass was the Friday, and the Sunday was the big day. Today was Wednesday. Lisa owed $58,000.

Thursday morning Lisa’s mom was at the school with $20,000. She asked for leniency. It was denied. By Thursday afternoon she came with another $10,000. The administration was still resolute.

Friday about mid-day, the graduands started arriving, dressed in their uniforms, their gowns in hands and fancy hairstyles. They were excited. I could feel it in the air. Lisa was present with her Fancy hairstyle, her beautiful white shoes, face flawlessly made up, but she had no gown. She was not permitted entry to the room for the graduands.

Fast forward several hours later…
The graduands got dressed for their valedictory mass, formed the line up to head to the church, while Lisa she sat on the bench next to the office window. She was awaiting the arrival of her mom with the remaining $18,000 that was outstanding for the school fee. The secretary in charge of issuing the gowns decided to prepare a complete set for her (gown, cape, hat, tassel, corsage) in the event her mom showed up. At 5:00p.m, the girls disappeared into the church. Lisa was still waiting. At about 5:30 a woman entered the compound in great hurry and rushed to the front office. It was Lisa’s mom. She had the remaining $18,000. Lisa was cleared and at 5:36, despite being thirty-six minutes late, she made her way to the church to join the others.

Students basking in the excitement of their “Final Walk”

Twisted priorities
The thing about this situation that bothers me is the issue of priorities. There are several other Lisa’s out there in many educational institution. Every year it happens. Parents refuse to pay school fees. There are students owing as much as $70,000 in school fees and when they are told they have met all criteria for graduation but will not be permitted to do so because of the outstanding funds, parents find the money. All. Of. It. Where did that money come from? if you can find 40 to 70 thousand dollars within a two week period, what happened over the three to four period why it was not paid? In addition to paying the many thousand dollars for outstanding school fees, they have to pay $10,000 for graduation fees, pay for their child hairstyles, nails, shoes and all the other pampering that come with this fete.

There is a high level of delinquency among parents when it comes to paying school fees that is unfathomable. School fees are important to the daily function of an institution. This is how the utilities and several other bills are paid. When parents do not pay these fees, then added pressure is placed on the institution. Because of this high level of delinquency, some schools (possibly all or most) made the decision to marry the payment of school fees to the Final Walk.

This level of delinquency is not only with school fees but also the purchasing of books and other materials for schools. I have had instances where the student is absent from school because of the supposedly lack of funds, but the same student is present at a function on the weekend fully fashionably dressed from head to toe.

Most Parents just want that feel good moment where their child/ren is the centre of attention; where they can say my child graduate high school; and so this feel good moment trumps everything else. It becomes priority even over academics sometimes. Schools’ administrators are aware of the fact this is where parents priority lies, hence they have opted to use this medium to recover  as much funds as possible.

While I am supportive of this decision by schools, I am concerned about the twist in priorities of parents. The enthusiasm, dedication, attention and sacrifice that they show when their child is about to graduate high school, I wish the same is shown during the child’s tenure in high school.

What are your views?

*Fictious name