Too many ‘dunce pickney’ in school, education officer laments

Education Officer Christopher Reynolds, from the Ministry of Education’s Region Six, yesterday chided parents for contributing to the relatively large number of ‘dunce pickney’ that he said exist in the island’s schools.

“We don’t have any parents a seh to the pickney dem, ‘carry yuh book come mek mi si it’. It hurt mi to di core. As an educator, it hurt mi to the core because too much dunce pickney inna school,” he declared, adding that ‘it is the truth’ and so the media can report his comments.

Reynolds, at the time, was delivering an address as guest speaker at the graduation ceremony hosted by Ewarton Primary School yesterday, June 26, at Bread of Life Ministries in Linstead.

Ewarton Primary is among schools in the ministry’s Region Six. “I supervise 32 schools in this geographic locale… My principals will tell you that, when it comes on to student performance in school, I am hard; I am hard on them for that. They have to do everything in their power to make sure pickney come school come learn,” Reynolds further said.

He told the gathering that he grew up in deep rural St Mary with his grandmother because his mother, who was 15 years old when she got pregnant with him, eventually relocated to Kingston.

Reynolds said his grandmother was not academically inclined, but she was a stickler for education, and so she would examine his books daily to ensure he was working in school.

“Granny look pon ticky and she know seh ticky mean seh it right, and she know seh wrong bong mean seh it wrong,” he told the gathering while calling for more parents to emulate his grandmother.

“When yuh child realize seh everyday him come from school yuh a goh check him book, the pickney will make a concerted effort to learn something in school,” Reynolds added.

He indicated that, although he encourages parents to love and care for their children, he supports corporal punishment when meted out by parents.

Reynolds, for example, explained how he disciplined one of his sons who once was involved in a ‘skirmish’ with a teacher at St Jago High School.

“Mi slap him left; mi slap him right; mi slap him goh; mi slap him come down. I tell yuh, I give him some beating that day,” he continued.

“Hear the guidance counsellor now, ‘Mr Reynolds, I going to have to call the police’. Mi seh, ‘Call anybody who yuh want call because wen oonu a Jago stay over yah and mek my bwoy feel seh him a man and can lick the man dem ova yah and come a my yard come try lick mi, him agoh dead‘,” the education officer further said.

He, however, made it clear that he was not encouraging educators to beat students or parents to abuse their children.

“Parents, wi have to go back to the days when wi take control of the situation; we cannot leave it up to school to take control of the situation for us, or else the situation will not be taken control of,” the education officer trumpeted.

By Horace Mills, Journalist (B.A. Media and Communications, UWI)


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