Full Disclosure
September 14, 2007

Back to school time again!

It is always a beautiful sight to see our nation’s students revive themselves from a long summer vacation, dust their bags off and return to school. The new uniforms and new faces heading in different directions, all for a common purpose, must be a delightful scene for the optimists among us.{{more}}

Usually, by the middle of August, both parents and children are praying for the month of September to begin, which marks the re-opening of the school year. I remember very distinctly both the excitement of going to a new class in primary school, and the uncertainty of entering secondary school, with new teachers and a whole new learning environment. Those factors could present a very overwhelming challenge for the average 11 year-old. Luckily, though, the tensions are usually short-lived, since by the time that the workload kicks in, you really do not have a choice but to get settled and get on with your business.

At the centre of the Education Revolution are efforts to afford an unprecedented number of students the opportunity to obtain a quality education by attending institutions of learning at all levels. Whilst the government is creating the framework to facilitate progress in the realm of Education, simultaneously there is an increase in the roles and responsibilities of the entire citizenry. For instance, with more students in school, parents would have to give more attention to their children as it relates to school matters. They will also have to begin to put aside more finance to send their children to Universities and other higher institutions of learning; greater strain will be placed on our teachers daily; more evening classes will be needed by those willing to give; the van drivers would have to continue their good work in some cases and attempt to improve the manner in which students are transported to and from school, and more. In fact, on the issue of transportation, if the government is not able to convince more persons to purchase school buses, it may soon become a question as to whether the public’s purse may have to directly facilitate such. The fact of the matter is that everyone engaged in the provision of services for school scholars would have to improve their efforts both quantitatively and qualitatively, in order to satisfy the needs of the increase in demand for such services.

It is clear that the entire Vincentian community has identified that the education of our people is of first importance in our attempts to alleviate different aspects of poverty. We cannot fail in ensuring that our national youth product is ready to reap the successes available at every level. The education of our children is multidimensional and is not limited to academia, but includes acquisition of various types of learning theories and life skills, that when strengthened by usage and application, leads to forms of personal, societal and national development.

Managing the Transition

Punctuality and attendance are of utmost importance. After sleeping for odd hours during the summer vacation and doing things in your own time, one might be tempted to maintain such habits. It is in this regard that parents must insist on compulsory punctuality and attendance not just for the first week of school but throughout the entire school year. It is the duty of parents to enforce punctuality and attendance as failure to ensure such can severely hamper the growth of the student. We have indeed proven that there is a strong correlation between poor attendance and punctuality and illiteracy.

The student must be aware that this new environment requires a certain level of independence, responsibility and maturity that was not demanded of them in the primary school level. The major responsibility of the student is to think. One cannot be taught if he does not think. Neither can one truly learn if one is not willing to think. Thinking and learning go hand in hand. Negative emotions must never be placed on the front burner when it comes to learning. Too many times I have heard young people say “I don’t feel like it.” The benefit of this process called learning surpasses emotions. Now is not the time to be faint-hearted and feeble.

It is not merely enough just to have a general desire to succeed. A desire to succeed has to be more specific. You must set goals regarding your grades and attitudes to work, teachers and fellow students. Too many have passed through the secondary school system and have totally wasted the valuable time of our educators. Keeping this in mind as a student, it will be beneficial for all involved, and particularly so, to alleviate some common stresses which teachers constantly face with problematic students.

Planning ahead is the key to success. Reading before each class is vital. This in fact will make the difference, because as a new student schedules and dates can be frustrating. You must not allow yourself to fall behind with assignments and projects. Setting aside time to study, listening and paying attention in class has proven to be an excellent way to become successful. In the event that you suffer a case of a surprise test or quiz, panic will not overcome you as you would be able to recall the information necessary.

I take this opportunity to wish all our nation’s students a full year of success.