Students, parents losing faith in public school system
With more parents leaning towards private school and homeschooling, Senior Lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Verna Knight is hoping government and policymakers can work to restore faith in the public school system.
Dr. Knight said it is no secret that the public system is fraught with issues resulting in low academic performance of students but the solution cannot be to simply remove students from the environment.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of an Out of School Study in the Eastern Caribbean at the Cave Hill Campus, Dr. Knight said homeschooling and private school are great options but they can only be utilized by a small percentage of society.
“If there is an excellent parent who can and with the right support, then why not, but we cannot simply say homeschooling is the answer because our schools aren’t working. We can’t say well the public school system isn't working so increase the number of children going to private schools, because not everyone can afford private schools.”
She said governments had invested tremendous amounts of resources into the school system and this alone should be incentive to ensure that students were successfully navigating the public school system.
“We need to fix our schools. We have invested a lot in our public education system and the public education system has to work. Let’s understand what is happening in the public school system and let’s fix the public school system."
For students, I think there is hope for us just admitting that currently our education system isn’t working the way we would want it to work. The fact is, we have many children we are providing access for at a very high bill but we are not seeing the results.”
Dr. Knight said there is no overnight fix for the education system as the issues are complicated and widespread. She explained the common belief that education would lead to a better way of life for students was fast becoming nothing more than a pipe dream.
“They are buying that dream but what we are seeing, in the end, is that we are being disillusioned when they get to the primary and secondary school level and they realize there is nothing here for me. And so we have to build back their faith in that dream by admitting there is a problem, understanding what the problems are and then beginning to address them.”