A new school year starts this week for the children in government schools.
Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin has been busy over the past 16 months trying to improve various aspects of pubic education. He’s made literacy a priority, instituted new disciplinary policies and split George Hicks High School into four more manageable schools, just to name a few of his initiatives.
There are also three new high schools planned, two of which are now seeking requests for proposals from contractors.
As the new school year begins, there is a renewed optimism that things are finally heading in the right direction at the government schools.
However, the new schools, new priorities, new disciplinary policies, new teachers and new approaches to teaching will not accomplish what the Education Minister wants unless the parents of the students who go to government schools perform their roles in the education process.
Make no mistake, it is not just government, school principals and teachers who have responsibilities in the education of children; parents also play vital roles.
Children must be supported in their school efforts by their parents. This required discipline includes making sure a child does his or her homework, gets to bed at a reasonable hour on school nights, and comes to school properly dressed and with the required supplies. Parents must also ensure their children attend school regularly and get there on time.
But the responsibility of parents goes much further than that.
Parents should also take an interest in their child’s education by asking them about school; by encouraging academic performance that meets their child’s ability; by praising their child’s accomplishments; by making sure that their child gets extra help in subjects in which he or she struggles.
Parents cannot be apathetic in their child’s education. It is disturbing to hear that more than half of the parents at one of Cayman’s high schools fail to attend the parent-teacher conferences. It is even more disturbing to hear that many parents of government school children do not even bother to come to the school to pick up their child’s grade reports.
The Government has recognised the importance of better educating young Caymanians for the future of the country. Its efforts to improve the government education system are commendable.
It’s up to individual parents, however, to do their part in the education process as well.