THE EDITOR, Sir:
WARM AND fraternal greetings. Permit me to respond to 'Let private sector run education' (The Gleaner, May 30), an article reporting on an address, 'Information, Communication Technology - Shaping Our Lives', by Kenneth Sylvester, presented to GraceKennedy's Annual Lecture. I agree that drastic action is needed to treat the problems associated with education in this country. I also agree that information technology is critical to education, but I remain solid that education is not business.
It is ridiculous to hear that the Government should turn over the schools to the private sector. I do not think that Mr. Sylvester is aware of the history of the private sector in education after 1834. What happened when the colonial government 'turned over' education to the planter? Let us stop fooling ourselves about the success of the commercialisation of education.
To think about having people who are not educators to run the school, what is the point? Is your effort part of a drive to privatise and speculate off education in order to return to post-emancipation conditions? It is amazing to see people who are not educators in the forefront of the process for change in education - especially those who are calling for 'entrepreneurs' to lead change in education.
There is the great misconception that the purpose of education is to prepare people for the workplace. This is a popular position on education in the absence of a serious philosophy of education in this country. To argue that the Government is responsible for the crisis in education is an ignorant and ill-informed position. In trying to solve the problem, Mr. Sylvester, you must be able to ask the right questions even before you begin to think about solutions.
Education is a social construct and, as such, people (teachers) have to be at the centre of its transformation, and not computer or information technology. Wall projector came and went, the television was proposed as a new feature to assist in education, that too went through the window; and now we are hearing about computer as the new 'learning' machine! There are several articles that appeared in The Gleaner, particularly those by Ms. M. Orane, advancing the misconception about information technology and computer in transforming education.
Mr. Sylvester, our problem is deep; I register your concern but leave the business people to do what they do best. Do not think for a moment, Mr. Sylvester, that business principles can run education in an 'efficient' manner. Your call raises a serious concern, especially in a time when there is a so-called transformation team supposedly 'leading change' in education. Mr. Sylvester, we suffer from a serious problem in this country, and that is empowering the wrong people. You are asking the state to empower the wrong people to lead change in education.
Probably it would be good to ask the private sector for greater contribution to education, particularly in the area of teacher education and training. The teacher-training colleges and trainee teachers are most neglected in this country. What has the business community and the private sector done for the teachers and the teacher-training colleges? Classroom teachers, and not foreign consultants nor business leaders, are the central factor in the process to transform education. Education is the concern of all people, but it is not business, and students are not customers.
I am, etc.,
LOUIS E.A. MOYSTON
Constant Spring Road