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 don’t 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 don’t understand that a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Editorial, The Reporter