EDITORIAL: Each should give back to their school
MORE THAN SIX DECADES AGO Barbados explicitly guaranteed free public secondary education for all. This was an affirmation of the political directorate’s desire that the majority be positioned for better opportunities and to help develop this country. This dream could only be effected by way of education.
Today, that access to public education, which has proven to be the hallmark of this country’s growth in those intervening years, is under some stress because of the national financial downturn. Many of the secondary schools that have been the backbone of the country’s expanded middle class and professional corps are at the epicentre of the financial struggle. They now lack many basic necessities.
Finances and budgets for public schools have been impacted by deep cuts, forcing many of them to seek ways to raise funds to meet certain needs. Fortunately, parent-teacher associations and some novel fundraising ideas by schools have helped to overcome some shortfalls. But, judging from what the schools have been indicating, the gap is still wide.
Unfortunately, a sense of entitlement inculcated with the introduction of “free” secondary education and the other “freenesses” on which the society has been weaned seem to have eroded a spirit of self-help. More importantly, there is little show of gratitude by those who have been successful beneficiaries of the social welfare system promoted by successive governments over the last 60 years or so.
But it should hit home now that the expectation that the state will provide from the cradle to the grave is no longer a viable hope, nor can parent-teacher associations or the schools themselves carry all the load. And higher taxation levels are untenable.
This is the hour for all Barbadians to give back financially or in whatever other way they can to assist the secondary schools which they or their children attended and benefited from. This means adding meaningful action to those bragging rights. It is also about stepping up and being responsible.
The establishment of not-for-profit foundations at the various secondary schools is a good way to help tackle the problem. These apolitical bodies can raise donations from benefactors who are thankful for the opportunities the schools provided and also want to show gratitude for the work of teachers who influenced them and paved the way for their success.
The funds raised can be helpful in ensuring that extra-curricular activities are realised, cultural programmes expanded and the best sports teams fielded. These areas would be a good vehicle to encourage and involve many who would otherwise be overlooked and forgotten.
Giving back to our schools should no longer be a “tomorrow” wish. We must all strive to make a positive difference to our secondary school system – today.