This month contributing writer, Delano Seiveright, discusses how mortifying it is to know that in 21st century Jamaica 95.7% of our Non-traditional high school students either failed or weren’t even sent up for CXC Mathematics.
Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Ghetto Education

Come on let’s face it a ghetto education is basic and most a yutes

dem waste it and when dem waste it, dem tek guns replace it,

Then dem don’t stand a chance at all, Dats why a nuff likle yute have up some fat matic wid di extra magazine inna them back pocket All who nah lock glocks, them a lock rachet Them will full you up a current like a short circuit

Then run a roadblock which part the cops block it And from now till a mornin no stop clap it If they run outta rounds a bruk back ratchet

(From Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley’s single Welcome to Jamrock)

CRAZY

These particular lyrics of Damian “Junior Gong” Marley’s global hit Welcome to Jamrock,came to mind whilst I keenly read veteran Educator Dr. Ralph Thompson’s analysis of the 2005 CXC results in the Sunday Gleaner (October 2, 2005). Is it just not mortifying to know that in 21st century Jamaica 95.7% of our Non-traditional high school students either failed or weren’t even sent up for CXC Mathematics? In light of an overall improvement in the pass rate, the overwhelming majority of our nation’s high schools are performing poorly. This includes many of the traditional or ‘name brand’ high schools. As a matter of fact, only a few of our name-brand institutions are performing well. Unfortunately, not every Jamaican child can get into Campion, Immaculate or Bishop Gibson High School.

CLASS DIVIDE

In truth, the students at these institutions are predominantly from the middle to upper income brackets/tier. On the other hand, non-traditional high schools cater almost exclusively to the children of the poor, namely Trench Town, Edith Dalton St. James High School etc. Judging by the results of all non-traditional and many traditional high schools, one gets an understanding as to why we seem to have such a horrendous crisis in regards to poverty and crime – the resulting factors. Further, it gives an understanding as to why our labour pool is so largely uneducated, unskilled and as expected, unemployable.

According to Dr. Thompson’s analysis only 4.3% and 12.8% of the non-traditional

high school student cohort attained passes in CXC Mathematics and English Language respectively. So out of the nearly 20,000 non-traditional high school students cohort this year, only 849 and 2,521 of them attained passes in CXC Mathematics and English Language respectively. As such, what will happen to the thousands of failing students who make up the overwhelming majority of our high school population? Will they go the route of criminality as Junior Gong indicated or will they become gainfully employed? The latter seems quite unlikely. If there remains indecision as to what to do with the expected J$10 Billion per year savings from PetroCaribe, perhaps pumping it in the early childhood education may be of the utmost benefit to our educational sector. The least we can offer to the upcoming generation(s) is an education system that actually educates people – as a matter of carrying out its intended duty/objective; and so, by extension, giving them a bright future to look forward to.

PROGRESS WITHOUT LITERACY?

How can our nation progress or function with tens of thousands of semi-literate

youths departing from our high schools each year? To make matters worse, our economy has been flat over the last decade and a half. The government has also failed over the last 16 years to make the fundamental reforms that our education system so desperately desires.

WHAT ABOUT OUR CUT?

With the minds of our young people being almost completely if not completely

permeated by the West’s culture of bling or materialism, do we really think they will like Jamaicans of past generations be satisfied with their lot in life? Educated and uneducated young people alike, are for the most part intent on getting a cut of the ‘pie’ whether legitimately or unfortunately illegitimately. The sad truth for Jamaica is that with over a decade of economic stagnation, the ‘pie’ is diminishing very quickly. Furthermore, the broadening social inequities existing in Jamaica coupled by frustration with the existing social order adds fuel to the fire brewing in our many inner cities. An illustration of this is the fact that the hottest reggae and dancehall hits are becoming vehemently anti-status quo/‘protest oriented’. Vybz Kartel’s chart topping hit ‘Emergency’ is currently tearing up the airwaves, dances and even uptown sessions. Current anti-status quo/ ‘protest oriented’ hits from Turbulance, Wayne Marshall, Assassin, Kip Rich, Twins of Twins and others add fuel to the spreading flames – “Quite So.”

REVOLUTIONARY FERVOUR

Formidable efforts must be now made to cool the extreme levels of frustration

transfixing Jamaicans. If not, there will be a major social explosion. Signs of this ominous explosion are already apparent with the gradually increasing break down of law and order across many parts of Jamaica, particularly in our larger urban centers. Economic uncertainty, soaring prices, increasing hopelessness, skyrocketing crime and violence that goes beyond human comprehension and an almost lack of confidence by Jamaicans in the current ruling administration are other indicators.

A BREATHER

All in all a change of government tends to deflate extreme and rising social

tensions in many countries. This PJ Patterson led administration has lost all moral authority to lead. I implore you to take a look at all the scandals to rock this administration over the last couple years. Mismanagement, corruption and incompetence are the hallmarks of this administration. All to the disadvantage of our nation’s best interest. A new government will certainly give the Jamaican people a ‘breather’.

WHATS HAPPENING HERE!!!

Have you all been monitoring news events over the last few weeks or so? The police and military launched a major assault on Tivoli Gardens and surrounding areas. AGAIN. I have no problem with the police and military raiding communities. I am fully cognizant of the extreme levels of crime stifling our nation. However, I have a problem with the security forces abusing the rights of citizens. I am also concerned with the continued unwarranted targeting of Tivoli Gardens by the security forces. This despite the fact that this community and its immediate environs has the lowest levels of violent crime in the Corporate area. Call the Constabulary Communications Network if you do not believe it.The results of the operation on Tivoli included the injuring of four unarmed residents. Two of the injured were shot in the immediate area where the Leader of the Opposition Mr. Bruce Golding was conversing. One of the ladies shot was to the immediate right of the Opposition Leader. The question now being asked in many quarters is whether the bullets were intended for Mr. Bruce Golding. Eyewitnesses certainly believe so. Is there a plot out there to foment general unrest by attempting to murder senior leaders in the JLP? Maybe not but I am terribly concerned.

About the author

DelanoSeiveright