I am concerned with the education layout of these islands for our youth, which includes my grandchildren. Education is of vital importance.
These are my views and I trust my thoughts won’t be drilled by criticism. We need to fix the problem.
Let us start at the primary school level. If a child attends school from age four to 14, the child would be at primary school for 10 years.
Each year, the child takes his/her exam for elevation to the next class. If the child does not pass the exam, they must repeat the class. If the child fails again, then he/she is put in the next class and attends evening classes as well to assist in learning.
At the end of leaving primary school age, the child should take the school leaving certificate examination. If the child is not successful, then he/she repeats the last class so as to achieve the primary school leaving certificate.
The student is now ready for college, not high school since he/she has already served this area in primary school. An entrance exam must be taken at the college of the student’s choice. If the student doesn’t pass, then he/she could repeat the last class to attain the level for college entrance and then re-sit the exam.
These repeated classes sound like they will be there forever but one has to realise that if you don’t study, you will not be elevated with the others who study wholeheartedly. Therefore, this is an incentive to show students the importance of education – they need it to survive. Other colleges could be set up by the various denominations, but they must teach at the level for entrance to university.
Do away with George Hicks High School and turn this huge establishment into a vocational training centre; change John Gray High School to the John Gray College of the Cayman Islands.
Of course curriculum would have to be updated at college level as more would be achieved for any student who would like to study at university level. The student must have a college certificate for entrance to university. This will help to alleviate the hassle of going away to college overseas and on to university.
The primary schools would need three more classrooms added (government can acquire this easily) and the teachers transferred to various primary schools to accommodate the three years that would have been used at George Hicks High School.
Bear in mind that every child is not able to do academic subjects – that is why vocational training is important. If the child is not successful academically then the parents are advised by the primary school that the child needs to get into a trade at the vocational training centre.
This is a large program but it has to get off its footing with the help of UNICEF-UNESCO and ILO.
This program is in liaison with the Labour and Education Minister, and it is a huge responsibility. UNICEF would provide books and tools; UNESCO is the educational sector and ILO for labour. The Government will provide the building, office staff, instructors/teachers and all remuneration as UNICEF would not assist if these are not applied. This is the way it used to work.
The vocational training centre is responsible for training the students for say three to four years, recess school job placement and job placement at the completion of training. Many businesses would be willing to take on students for job experience in various trades. If interest is shown, they might be lucky to continue with that business after leaving the training centre.
There are various trades that could be set up at the centre. Students must be able to take the trade of their choice, with an alternative in case they are not successful with their first choice. Vocational training is a must if the child is unable to do academic studies.
We should spend tremendously in educating the youths of today both academically and by way of a trade.
Once the system is in place, you would call it the No Child Left Unattended Policy. This would strengthen our beautiful islands with the manpower by the way of skills and literate children will be produced for this our beloved Cayman Islands.
Philip N. Stewart Sr.