Re private schools fulfilling their mandate

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I take my two and a half year old grandson (a champion in the making) to day care every day. I ask some penetrating and probing questions concerning the safety and care provided for him and I think I have the right to ask. I never felt at any time, that I am annoying the head when asking questions; there is always an answer or there is a balance whenever there is a perceived misgiving on my part or the daycare.

Sometime last week I read someone’s article (letter) concerning private school springing up everywhere and ask the administration to rein them in.
This article caught my attention as a former Chairman of a school Board of Governor and Parent Teachers’ Association for over 12 years covering three schools. As chairman I have my quiver filled with experience. So much the more that these experiences helped to catapult me in my training and education during my year (March 2005 – February 2006) in London in computer training, community policing service, cultural and church conferences, speaking at various forums including political.
Editor, it is my perceived thought that many of these private schools are operating with the license to hire and fire teachers at their own shims and fancy.
It is a noted fact that in Guyana there are Muslim, Hindu, American and Christian schools and each of these schools advance their cultural or ideological aspect into their curriculum which I believe is their democratic right and choice.
From my professional experience and decorum; I find that some of these schools do not partake in National school sports or poetry competition, National essay writing competition or even outings – visit to the Museum, the zoo, heritage sights or places of national interest. These children are programmed to attend extra lessons or stay in class and do school work. Extra-curricular activities may involve a PT officer teaching the children to jump around for half an hour every Friday morning.
If what I perceive is true of some private schools then we can hardly expect a Caribbean athlete coming from any private school in the future.
It may be shocking to note that even the National songs of Guyana is unsung and the National Anthem is said only at graduation time.
More shocking is the fact that these schools promote a kind of dictatorship administration without considering that teachers input in a school is more that standing in front of a class the entire week or without the suggestion or participation of parents who can provide expert advice on the management and delivery of education to our children.
There are in some cases no plans in place for teacher’s appreciation day. And talking about teacher’s appreciation day; I recall as chairman of one of the top primary schools in Georgetown many year ago, I convened a meeting with parents and teachers where a proposal was made to host a fair (school) to raise funds for the school. The proceeds from the fair in my capacity as Chairman I authorised a sum of money to be distributed to each teacher. I cannot remember any private school in this nation ever going that way!
And what about NIS contributions are they in order?
Do all private schools adhere to the Laws of Guyana?
What ethics and national standards do private schools follow?
Is there no involvement of a trade union presence within the institution?
Does not a trade union ensure that teacher’s rights are protected?
It would be in the benefit of the administration if there was no trade union to monitor the function and fairness of teachers’ appraisal.
A teacher could be teaching for 15 to 20 years in one school and at her retirement she has nothing to look forward to because the multiplied millions of dollars earn by the administration goes towards education of their children overseas and holidays to Miami or to pay Bank mortgages. Whereby in the end, the schools administration bleeds the energy and draws of their teacher’s knowledge year after year.
More so, what or who is to advocate on behalf of a teachers, who has been fired because they attended their graduation when they were instructed by the Principal not to?
It is atrocious for a principal to seek opportunity to discipline a kindergarten teacher who has a class of 15-20 children three or four years old, the majority in pampers without an aid. Then suddenly that teacher need to use the washroom urgently, to leave those children is a risk and to have the teacher’s urinal bladder under pressure could result in contracting a urinal track infection.
That teacher is under duress and is likely to be suspended if she responds to a call of nature. Do these private schools employ a health worker in event of an emergency if a child is sick while in school?
It makes me wonder if the administration is aware that the most valuable assets in any organisation are people and not buildings.
What about exorbitant fees administered with extortionist principles that dictate usury? These fees – cost for supplies, uniforms, books which in some or most cases are two months before access could be made?
What about discrimination that goes on unabated, both against teachers and students?
For the suspecting Guyanese parents these issues are irrelevant, as long as their child is enrolled in a so-called reputable school. Whether it’s a Hindu, Muslim or Christian school it doesn’t matter, as long as the fees keep coming.
Finally, are private schools providing any real benefits to its staff or society, or are they hell bent on extending their base in the hope of capturing more unsuspecting hard working parents and their meager earnings.
I perceive that there are stiff competitions to capture the market, as I have seen a particular school in the city pull down their original building and replacing it with a solid concrete structure overnight. Another replaced their location with a massive complex costing millions of dollars and running evening programmes to capture more income.
There is a thin line between greed and diligence. It is my firm belief that many of these schools are money sharks and would implement systems, schemes or structures that are designed to make them rich on the backs of hardworking dedicated teachers whose salary is woefully inadequate.
Guyanese (some) are very naïve; they never could imagine that some private schools are taking them for ride.
For instance do you know that the competition is more than just extending their borders but is so subtle, you would hardly discern it; the modus operandi is to attract the brightest pupil both at CXC and Grade Six (formerly common entrance) level.
Then at exam time, they look forward to five of their students to be in the top 10, so that the next term they prepare for the kill.
I must end this letter with a line of hope. Some will be annoyed with this letter writer; others will begin to do a conscientious internal forensic analysis of their administration and operations, then seek to improve on their human relations aspect of function.

APOSTLE VANRICK BERESFORD