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#414520 - 08/23/11 02:16 PM How to to provide more classroom hours for study
Marty Offline
There are three ways to provide more classroom hours for study-work.

1. We could increase the number of school days in the year.

2. We could increase the number of hours of class time during the school day, e.g. from 3:30 to 4:00 p.m.

3. We could adjust the number of non-essential subjects to make more room for disciplines such as math and reading comprehension.

It is urgent for us to do something because, as the PSE results show, many of our children are leaving Standard VI unable to speak and read English, and unable to solve simple mathematical problems.

It is easy to blame the teachers when children do not respond to teaching stimuli, but the truth of the matter is that there is not enough time to cover the subject matter, especially when the class size exceeds 20 students.

Before we begin to conclude that more classes will translate into undue pressure on the children, we should consider what a leading country like Singapore is doing.

In Singapore the people speak Chinese. But all the lessons in primary schools are given in English.

In Finland too, all classes are in English, even though the people speak Finnish as their mother tongue. In both Singapore and Finland, the school year consists of 200 classroom days.

In the model countries we are looking at - Finland, Japan, Singapore and Israel, children spend more time in the classroom than Belizean children do.

Many educators in Belize are of the view that we ought to do things our way and not be overly concerned about how people do things in other countries. But education is perhaps the only area in which Belize can be competitive with other countries. In the global economy where we live and work, our future depends entirely on our being able to compete.

Primary education is the foundation stone for everything else we do in life. It is the chassis on which Belize will build her car of the future. It is important therefore to have our best teachers and our best rescue system for students at the primary level.

But the chilling reality is that less than 30 percent of our primary school students do well enough to go on to secondary. Some sixty percent of students donít make the grade, and are stuck in the mud because they cannot move forward academically.

This is a national disgrace! It is a crime against our young people, perpetrated by adults who donít understand that a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Editorial, The Reporter

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#414537 - 08/23/11 04:09 PM Re: How to to provide more classroom hours for study [Re: Marty]
Amanda Syme Offline
Education is not something that is turned on and of between the hours of 8am and 4pm. Our children must be educated at home - they should learn social graces, team work, good work ethics etc. They should be required by their family or guardians to put a few hours of home work each night, even if that is a story being read to the child. Manners, respect, ambition - all of these traits are taught by our parents, our peers and our teachers. We cannot expect our teachers to "raise" our kids to be complete, contributing members of society. It is a community effort.

We have all seen the kids on the streets day and night that are not in school - some of them are actually enrolled but don't always attend. Many of these children are made to work at their parents places of business or out on the streets and beaches selling food or handicraft items. They aren't allowed to go home unless they come home with $XX. And as a society we are allowing this to happen.

I don't believe that dropping "non-essential" subjects is the answer.

When kids are young in Europe they take between 11 and 16 subjects til the 2nd year of high school. These subjects expose the kids to a wide variety of potential jobs. There is cooking, wood work, sewing, metal work, art, music, history, literature, geography, myriads of choices of sports, as well as your basic languages, sciences and mathematics.

How do they do? They tie everything together. In mathematics, history, religious study etc your English language must be used correctly. In the sciences if there is a mathematical element the solution must be written out clearly showing how the student arrived at the answer. If a child is failing a core subject they lose the privilege of being on a sporting team, or the chess club or the music club etc.

I constantly applaude Bowen and Bowen's Coca cola spellling bee challenge because it is one of the few national events that encourages kids to challenge themselves, their class mates and kids around the country. It teaches children pride in themselves, in their school, in their teachers, in their town and their district. Competitions such as this one give the kids prizes to motivate them to strive to achieve the level of excellence we all need to aim for in life.

There are so many important factors that result in educated, well adjusted, hard working young people. Your education starts at home and carries on into the classroom.

I have a child in primary school and one in high school here in Belize. And one that graduated high school in Belize a few years ago. They have to work hard at that studies to get ahead, as parents we allowed them the hours each evening to study and created an environment conducive to study. No tv, no phones - until you finish your studies. They would complain when we drilled them on spelling words after dinner or asked about a particular social studies subject - but we did it anyway. And yes, the kids have chores and they all worked at their own little enterprises to make a few bucks during the holidays and weekends.

Over the years I have seen parents disagreeing with teachers and not supporting the teachers decisions or the punishments or amount of homework that have been doled out to the kids. If the parents undermine the teachers authority the kids no longer have respect for the teachers. If their attitude is disrespectful it is disruptive to the entire class. The authority of the teachers is being eroded by the lack of respect of communities - and look at the results!

I have seen many, many fine teachers in this country, and yes, some mediocre ones too. But all in all I believe that this is not a lost cause but we need to get back to the basics. We need to make education a family business, a community concern and priority.

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