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AWRIGHT DEN!: The private benefits

Corey Worrell, [email protected]

AWRIGHT DEN!: The private benefits

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THERE IS A SAYING that it isn’t the strongest or most intelligent of the species that survives, but the one that is most adaptable to change.

The Common Entrance Examination marks were recently released and the discussion about private schools verses public schools was hot on the lips of many Barbadians again. Those who know me or have followed my articles already know my position as it relates to private schools.

I have had the opportunity in the past to teach at both private and public secondary schools and I can tell you, they are not the same; one operates like a charity while the other like a business. 

When I heard that there wasn’t going to be a top 10 list in this year’s results, my immediate thought was, the private schools have once again outperformed the public ones. This thought was before I learnt of the reason behind the minister of education’s decision. Remarkably, I didn’t share my thoughts with the public, only my family members, but based on the comments on social media, it seems quite a few individuals thought the same thing.

Even though the minister made a decision not to publish a top 10 list, through thorough investigative journalism, journalists could have contacted each school to obtain their top 5 students and their marks, collate the information and produce their findings for the public’s benefit; a top 10 or even a top 20 listing.

The word on the streets is that the private primary schools are performing better than the public schools and if this is indeed true, there would be reasons why.

(1) Private schools have smaller class sizes than public schools, allowing children to receive a greater percentage of their teachers’ attention. It also allows for easier classroom management and if a child is stronger than a colleague, teachers are able to facilitate their strength by setting additional work and still be able to manage the rest of the class.

(2) Private schools have greater access to and more resources that support learning and development than public schools do, and these teaching aids give private school students a greater advantage.

(3) Private schools, though educational institutions, are also businesses and as a result have a zero tolerance towards anything that jeopardises their brand. This helps maintain order and drives professionalism, productivity and a results-based environment.

(4) Teachers in private schools aren’t appointed as in the public sector and I don’t think they are unionised. As a result, their jobs are not as secure as those in the public schools, so performance and achieving results are huge motivators.

(5) Since the money that finances the schools comes from parents, there is greater teacher-to-parent and school-to- parent interaction which equally benefits the school and students. Parents are also more involved and this is so because they want to be certain they are getting value for their money and also a return.

Despite the “hard” economic times Barbados has been experiencing over the past eight years or so, more and more Barbadians are turning to private schools andas a result, more are opening. Parents aren’t only looking at the academic benefits but also the social development benefits and the extracurricular activities, which for some schools is mandatory.

I taught at the Codrington School, a private school in St John, for one year. During my time there, there were no reports of stealing, bullying, “cuss-outs” or fighting, and at no time were any students disrespectful towards me when I gave them instruction or corrected them. I will be honest – teaching there was a culture shock for me. Am I saying that all private schools are like this? No, but I will say that there are some issues public schools face that are either non-existent or very irregular at private schools.

Private schools have recognised that the world is constantly changing and so are the needs of some parents. All they have done is recognise the change and adapted and created a product to complement that change. If they continue to perform well, you can be certain more and more parents will find ways to afford this option for their children. This may be of benefit to the public schools since classroom sizes will drop over a period of time, benefiting teachers and students.

Would I send my children to private school? Once I can afford it, definitely.

• Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development. Email: [email protected]