It has been axiomatic for decades in this country that the main driver for legitimate economic empowerment for the poor and the middle classes is education. We have all, at some point in our lives, seen at first hand or heard about that person, male or female , who has managed to transform his or her life using the medium of education.
So powerful is this medium and so transformative has it been, that Ian Boyne has been able to utilise its successes for over 30 years to run a successful programme, Profile on Television Jamaica.
These success stories, however, are far too few and are not normative. They reflect those who, through sheer will power, despite the obstacles of poverty, abuse, heartbreak or crisis, have been able to raise themselves up using the medium of education.
Our politicians and our political parties appreciate the power of education and its value. They speak glowingly of its transformative power. Yet, they continue only to tinker at the edges of the education superstructure and the education system. The result is that we have ended up with a dysfunctional system where our young boys leave secondary schools without any certification, without any life skills and with only severely blighted prospects for the future.
The results, again, are well known. A minority end up in university or post-secondary learning institutions. A minority end up in the traditional work place. A minority end up as suitable life partners for the huge numbers of qualified, young ladies who are in the mainstream working environment. The majority of such young men end up either in a “hustling” or on the street corner crushing some vegetable matter in the left palm with the fingers of the right hand. Simply, the young male becomes permanently marginalised.
There is wide-spread acknowledgement of some of the prevailing ills. Malnourishment amongst children; the unavailability of resources in the home for children to properly do their homework; the lack of properly educated and trained parents who can adequately assist with both the doing and supervision of homework; the lack of discipline and structure at home; the lack of proper religious/moral education at home in order to enhance the total development of the child; the lack of structured after-school activities; and the almost complete absence of fit and proper male role models in the home and the community.
Boarding schools provide all of the aforementioned. The young male is sequestered in a sterile, disciplined environment. From the time he gets up in the morning, to making his bed ( yes, a bed all of his own!), to getting ready for breakfast, having a proper breakfast, attending devotion, going to classes, a proper lunch, physical education, after-school activities, dinner/supper, social time, bed time, all of this is supervised and structured. Boarding schools provide an oasis away from the chaos from inne-city life. I do not know any boys who went to boarding school on a full-time basis for at least 5 years who are not gentlemen.
Senator The Hon. Ruel Reid CD, the Minister of Education, Youth and Information, knows of the tremendous value of boarding schools. He attended Munro College, a boarding school. He was a master teacher at Munro College. As arguably the most successful principal of Jamaica College over the last 40 years, he envisioned, conceptualised, and implemented the building of dormitories and other ancillary facilities so that once again Jamaica College could become a boarding school. My unsolicited advice is that he uses his well-known skills to persuade his Cabinet colleagues to allocate funds to his ministry that will enable the construction of boarding facilities at two high schools each year. Schools such as Glenmuir, Titchfield, Holmwood, Dinthill, Calabar, and Ruseas, come to mind. The sequence in life is always dream, then discussion, then action. Let’s start the conversation now. There is too much at stake.