Monday, 29 June 2015

Community Safety

The time has come for Jamaican housing developers to include a police post as part of the basic amenities when constructing housing schemes of a particular size. Purchasing a home is arguably the single most expensive investment an individual will make during his/her lifetime. It is quite reasonable to expect some level of security and safety after such an investment.  The recent horror stories of rape and robbery at Longville Park Housing Scheme in Clarendon has once again highlighted how vulnerable and helpless we are as citizens against the scourge of crime and violence in the society.
Additionally, the National Housing Trust (NHT) also has a part to play in ensuring the safety and security of the residents. Many residents of Longville Phase 3 have reported that the NHT constructed the windows of their homes with plastic. According to residents the plastic windows serves as an entry point for criminals to access their homes. We know the society we live in and to have made windows with plastic was not too clever to begin with. We should not cut cost at the expense of one’s safety.  The residents of Longville are asking calling for a perimeter fencing to be constructed around the housing development.
We can only hope that this terrible experience will be a learning moment for all the stakeholders involved.
Wayne Campbell

Friday, 19 June 2015

Increase Social Media Use in Schools

The nation is now in a post Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) frame of mind. The results of the 2015 (GSAT) are now available and our students are about to embark on post primary studies.
As expected, some students are happy to have been placed at their school of choice, while others who fall in the minority twenty five per cent are wondering what went wrong why they were zoned.
We are very much aware that some of the high schools in Jamaica are more sought after than others. This is predominantly due to the public perception, effective management, as well as the schools track record.
Regardless of which school you are placed at life goes on and you can bloom wherever you find yourself once you apply yourself and remain focused with the help of parents and guardians. 
For the most part our schools have not done a very good job ats promoting their strengths to the general public especially during an era of social media. An added benefit of using social media is that schools have the opportunity to reinforce their ‘brands’. We tend to associate branding in the world of business, however, social media, such as, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook can be creatively used by our educational institutions to highlight to the public the diverse and enriched programmes unique to each school. Social networking is the new way to communicate.
Our schools need to incorporate more of the available social media technology to communicate with parents and guardians and students. Social networking continues to capture the imagination of many across the world. Interestingly, even those students who have learning disorders and whom we label as slow learners can become fascinated by and learn from the expertise associated with social media.
The fact is many of our parents and students are already using and sharing on social media sites. The time is now for us to be innovative and capture our students’ attention by using more of social media which will undoubtedly benefit our schools and students.
As a society we must do more to ensure that all our children learn regardless of socio-economic background and school attended.

Wayne Campbell

Monday, 8 June 2015

Don't Rush Into School Zoning

The decision by the Ministry of Education to place students who sit the annual Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) closer to their respective home as of 2015 is most commendable. However, we need to examine all the pros and cons of such a move before it becomes the general policy.
The placing of students in schools in their geographical area should only come after the state can guarantee minimum standards for all our schools. The education ministry’s intended zoning policy clearly has its benefits, one of which is to curtail the long distances some students travel daily to and from school.
In many Jamaican families, there is a culture of sending their children to specific schools, in keeping with the tradition within such families. Therefore, placing a student in a school closer to his/her home may not necessarily be in the best interest of the student.
Students who live in depressed communities should not be placed in any high school in their community.  The experiences of such students are limited to begin with and when they are placed in schools in the areas in which they live such students do not benefit as much from that wider experiential mix that they would have garnered had they been placed outside of the comfort zone of their community. We should also be careful that this policy is not viewed as a discriminatory system since that most of the better performing schools are located in areas where the income levels are higher than the income levels of the communities where the lower performing schools are sited. 
The notion of failing schools is not only a public perception issue; it is a fact which is documented by the National Education Inspectorate (NEI) Unit of the Ministry of Education which is mandated to inspect all schools.
According to the 2014 National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report more than sixty per cent (60%) of the country’s primary and secondary schools are failing in their education delivery to the nation’s children. With more than half of all our schools failing the rush to get into a good school remains extremely high. This report is very troubling and provides a sound basis for parents and guardians to do all within their powers to ensure that their children are placed at a high performing school even if it means travelling long distances.
The distance that students travel to and from school cannot be the only deciding factor in determining what is in the best interest of student.  The Ministry of Education needs to embark on a consultative approach on this matter before signing off on this issue.

Wayne Campbell

Friday, 5 June 2015

Psalm Chapter 91 verses 1-7

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Psalms Chapter 140 verses 1-4

Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man: Which imagine mischiefs in their heart: continually are they gathered together for war.
They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison in under their lips.
Keep me, O Lord from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.