July 25, 2014

The long school vacation – then and now

Fri, Jul 25, 2014

This long school vacation period used to be called August holidays; today the young people say school is on summer vacation. Whether it is the August holidays or summer vacation, some things remain unchanged, year in, year out. Other things, sadly, are gone, never to return.{{more}}

You know schools are out for the long vacation, when vehicular traffic flows freely on mornings and you are able to leave home half an hour later than you would when school is in session.

You know schools are out and parents are preparing for the next term when the crowds flocking to the local bookstores are so thick, they spill out into the streets. When the next order of business after acquiring the books is to cover them with brown paper.

When businesses receive application upon application, some for summer jobs, the school leavers seeking something more permanent; you know school is on holiday.

It must be summer time, when decades after they were first introduced, the children’s programmes put on by the public library and the coast guard are in as much demand as they were when they were first introduced. This is so, even though today, parents have many more choices in terms of ways to keep their children occupied at this time. There are other excellent programmes put on by the police, the various steelbands, churches, community groups, and non-profit organizations that expose our children to the arts, various sporting disciplines and remedial reading and math programmes. This is a change that is most welcome.

When NBC radio, formerly 705, has children calling in to sing songs and recite poems, you know it is the long vacation. They called in to Randy D and Glen Jackson in years gone by; today they are excited to speak with Dezzie (Desmond Arrindel), who seems to have as many young fans as he does older ones – and he knows them all by voice and name!

In years gone by, children roamed neighbourhoods from dawn till dusk climbing trees and savouring the sweet, juicy mangoes which are in abundance at this time. The mangoes are still sweet, juicy and plentiful, but no more can the children wander throughout the village fearless and unfettered. No more do the youngsters spend so much time at the beach, that come Septem­ber, their hair has been bleached red from the sun and the salt.

No more do children occupy themselves by playing jacks, dolly house, top or skipping and making carts from scraps found around the yard. They are locked up indoors, glued for hours to their tablets and video games.

Oh, how times have changed!