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Smiling african-american schoolgirl going back to school with books and copybooks
Community Articles, History and Education,

It is back to school time – Rise up and take your position

Some tips for students, parents, teachers, and Government

Introduction

It is this time of the year when a new school year starts. This is an exciting time especially for parents who spend the entire summer with their children. It is also an exciting time for first time students whether it is kindergarten, elementary, secondary, or tertiary. Unfortunately, it is also a time of anxiety for some individuals as they do not like the school and don’t see the purpose in going to school. Some students do not like school also because they are constantly being teased and bullied.

I believe the school is a place that should not only provide learning opportunities but also a place of teaching others to interact, love and appreciate others.

I am not an educator even though I wanted to be one, but I am a parent and was a student and so I hope this article provides meaningful tips to make your time in school more meaningful and appreciative.

Students

Students do not take your time in school for granted. It is a place where you can learn something and therefore, I encourage you to learn as much as you can. If you do not understand what is being taught you, let your teacher know. Furthermore, when you go home, google the subject area, and watch videos on the topics until you understand fully the area. Even if you understand the subject, please still review daily when you go home. Stay focused and listen carefully to your teacher.

If you do this, you will not have to cramp or study as much the night before an exam. Do your assignments as soon as you get them. Do not delay. Do not plagiarize. If you are using someone’s else work, give credit to them. Participate in school. I know sometimes you may feel you are asking a silly question but if you don’t know then how you will know if you don’t ask. Do not cheat. If you have multiple choice questions, attempt to answer all of them. Treat your teachers and other students with respect. However, do not let anyone take advantage of you. If they do, let your parents, principal and teachers know. Students, remember nobody is better than you. There may be some students in your class that may know the subject better than you but do not let that intimidate you. There is something you are also very good in. Find a balance with your academics. Get involve in sports or some community work.  Everything in school should not just be academia. Finally, students, do not compromise your character or integrity by sleeping withing your teacher or professor to get a good grade. It is not worth it. If anyone sexually harass you, obtain the evidence, and report them because trust me, they are not only doing it to you but to others as well.

Parents

Parents, remember these children are your children, not the teacher’s children. Too many of us are sending our children to school and expect the teacher to do everything. Parents, we have a responsibility too. Review your children’s work and make sure they complete their assignments. Some of them may be able to work independent of your help while others will need your help. If you cannot help them, then find someone who can tutor them.  We cannot go back in time so ensure that your children are doing the best they can do. One thing I caution you is, do not compare your children to other children or even to yourself.

Some of you may want to put your child in a private school but if you cannot afford it, then don’t it. Don’t worry about what people think as they do not know your situation. Parents don’t put your career ahead of your children. Find the time to be involve in their education because soon your children will become adults and no longer be in your home. It is our responsibility to guide them and groom them.  Don’t say anything negatively about the teacher in the presence of your children.

Parents, accept the fact that some of your children will not want to go to college. It is ok if they go in the workforce after school.

Teachers

I admire teachers. It is a profession that is underrecognized. I encourage you though to keep teaching. We need teachers. I also encourage you to be an example to your students and to ensure that your students understand the material you taught them. Do not show favouritism even if you have favourites. Do not insult or shout at the students in the presence of others. You can make or break a child self-worth. Appreciate the fact that not all children are the same. Another thing is to discontinue putting positions on the report card. Sometimes there is too much focused-on positions. I remember in High School; I came first in Physics with a failed grade. Positions are not a measurement; the measurement is passing the subject. Finally, Teachers, upgrade your skills on a continuous basis.

Governments

The education system is guided by the Education Department. Ensure that we are not behind. Ensure that the curriculum is upgraded and when students leave secondary school, they can function in the workplace as some may not pursue tertiary education. Therefore, technical education should be prominent in secondary schools. I also think experiential learning should be promoted in the schools. I think this will also help students to learn better. Some of the current subjects being taught need to remove and replaced with everyday life subjects.

Government must also ensure that sports including swimming is an integral part of the curriculum of the schools and promote healthy competition among the various schools.  Finally, compensate the teachers fairly as they deserve more.

Conclusion

Being in school does not necessarily have to be hard. It is life learning experience, and it should be a mix of fun as well. Testing should not be about regurgitation. Testing should be about understanding and applying what you have learned. In this way, you are increasing a student’s ability to think.

Life is already difficult and so we do not need to make school life difficult. Otherwise, many students will not see the need for school especially when they can virtually google anything.

drexanna picture
Community Articles, History and Education,

Sometimes your journey takes longer than others, but you can still up end at the same destination

Congrats to Drexanna Seymour on the completion of her BA (Honours) in Criminology

Introduction

This article is a tribute to our daughter Drexanna in reaching this milestone of completing her bachelor’s degree in criminology. I hope this article is also an encouragement to other students and parents.

November 19, 1998, at around 1135pm, was one of the best days for our family because that is the day, our first child came into that world. We named her Drexanna Gabrielle Seymour. Of course, Drexanna is combination of my name and my wife’s name Joanna. She is our only daughter among four brothers.

The journey for her degree took two years longer due to a few obstacles and setbacks, but the amazing thing is she did it and with honours. We are truly proud of our beautiful daughter Drexanna.

Early Childhood and Primary School

Drexana started her early childhood education before she was two years old at Precious Treasures Primary. As I reflected on this, I don’t know if that was too early to send her to school because later in life, Drexanna did not like school.

Precious Treasures used to keep the kids until 5pm which was convenient for my wife and I as we both were working. Of course, the first year of Drexanna’s life, my wife stayed home with her. When Precious Treasures decided to discontinue the after-school program, we moved Drexanna to Best Institute.  At some point as a concerned parent, we felt that Drexanna should have been reading more fluently and so we moved her to another school and that did not work out and so we returned her to BEST Institute. The lessons we learned from this are that children develop at different levels, do not compare your children to others and do not pressure your children to perform so highly at a such a beginning level.  

Secondary School

Drexanna successfully passed the exams to go to the Secondary School. As I can recalled, she got the third highest at BEST Institute.  Drexanna really wanted to go to the public high school, so we enrolled her at Clement Howell School to show her that we support her. However, after a year, we felt it was time her to move so we enrolled her in a private high school. Somehow, she did not like it and it was reflected in her grades and so we moved her again to another private high school where she remained there until her graduation from secondary school in 2015. However, it was not easy for Drexanna because she was under a lot to pressure to perform like me. I was not the one pressuring her but rather other people including some of her teachers. but Drexanna successfully passed all her subjects except for History. In fact, she did better in her external exams than what her mom and I did in High School.

I recalled her English teacher telling her that she should not put her up to take the IGCSE but Drexanna passed her English with A*. One of her weakest subjects was Math but she also passed math. Thank you Ms Jestina Delancy for being so caring. I remembered when the results came out, you were one of the first persons to inquire whether Drexanna was successful in Math. Thank you also to Miss Laura for being positive influence in Drexanna’s educational journey.

One thing I learned from all this is that teachers also must be very careful how they treat students and what they say to students as it can impact their confidence level. In addition, teachers must learn not to show any favoritism to certain students.

With that said, there was a teacher I want to single out at BEST Institute, Ms Perrin. I remembered the words she told me. She said Drexwell, I want to make sure all my students understand the concepts before I move on to something else. This is something that always resonated with me up to this very day.

Tertiary School

Drexanna moved to the UK and enrolled in college. Initially, Drexanna wanted to study criminology, but she did not pursue it due to fear. She enrolled in IT and media, but we wanted her to enroll in hospitality management. After one year in Luton, she moved to Leeds and changed her major and enrolled in college there. Eventually she dropped out of college. Of course, we were disappointed, and it affected our relationship because I was upset with her. Her mom was more understanding. Of course, my anger was short lived as I can never be mad and upset with my children for long. I always wondered though if I pressured Drexanna to go to college. The lesson I learned from this is that not to pressure your children to go to college when you want them to go.  I remembered calling both my host fathers in Ohio and Pennsylvania respectively about the situation and they told me they went through the same thing with one of their children dropping out of college, but they encouraged me because sometimes you think no one else goes through what you are going through.

Eventually, Drexanna came around on her own and decided to enroll in a college in Manchester to do A levels in criminology for two years. She texted me and said Daddy I am going to give college another opportunity.  I was happy as she is our first daughter and we wanted her to achieve this milestone because sometimes she lacks confidence and we believe if she obtain this degree, this will boost her confidence level. We also wanted her to be an example to her siblings. She successfully completed her A level program in 2019 with excellent grades. You can see now why she took longer than her high school peers but that is ok. Parents it is ok if your children take longer than others.  Encourage them in whatever they pursue.

University

Drexanna was accepted in all the five Universities that she applied to, but she chose to attend University of Hull and majored in criminology. On July 21st 2022, Drexanna graduated with a Bachelors of Arts (Honours) in Criminology.

Drexanna did not really want to be in person to attend the graduation as she was already in Turks and Caicos and didn’t want us to incur additional finances on her education. We were able to convince her to attend the graduation and here I am in Hull celebrating this milestone with our firstborn. I believe when a person achieves a milestone, it should be celebrated.

Other talents and gifts

Our daughter does not only have her degree, but she is also very talented. She can sew. She is very good in graphic designs. She is also a photographer and a videographer.  She is also a great dancer unlike her father. (Maybe she got it from her Mom)

Conclusion

Drexanna, your entire family is proud of you. You have a story that will inspire others to rise. I do pray that you will one day be able to use the knowledge that you obtained. I know it is very discouraging for students to return home and not able to find a job that suits their degree. However, don’t give up. You overcame many obstacles, and you will overcome this one.

Congrats Drexanna Gabrielle Seymour. One of the greatest things I love about you is that you don’t compare yourself to others. Continue to be you and remember you mother and I will always be there for you. You know your mom would have love to be there in person with you but due to circumstances beyond our control, only one of us could have attended.

Finally, thank you God for allowing Drexanna to complete this milestone. I remembered one request we used to ask God daily, was to let you complete your degree. We love you Drexanna and may God continue to guide you and provide you with wisdom as you venture in this world.

Private VS Public
Community Articles, History and Education,

The way forward in the management and funding of Education should be through a Public-Private Partnership

Because they are paying for each student in the public school, then provide a subsidy for each student in the private schools.

Introduction

Let me say I am against public private partnership when it comes to the management of our public assets especially when the Government is in a financial position to do it themselves. However, when it comes to the investment in education of our children, I believe we should explore and expand a public private partnership. I don’t think Government should invest in the building of any additional schools but rather partner with the private institutions or encourage the establishments of more private schools.

While the Government is not obligated to provide funding to any private institution as their priority is funding the public schools.  However, the situation in the Turks and Caicos is unique in that most students in the Public Schools particularly on the island of Providenciales are not locals.  Furthermore, the ratio of students to teachers in the public schools is very high. Therefore, many parents have enrolled their children in private schools.

Student population in elementary and secondary institutions

There are approximately 7,000 students registered between the public and private elementary and secondary schools. 4,500 are at the public school spread across 11 elementary schools and 5 secondary schools. The remaining 2,500 students are enrolled in 22 private schools in the Turks and Caicos. Of the 4,500 students in public schools, 250 of them are with special needs.

Public School cost

Based on the TCIG Budget for 2022/23, the unaudited actual expenditure for primary education was $2,812,571 for 2021/2022 and the budget for 2022/2023 is $3,043,884. Meanwhile the unaudited actual expenditure for secondary education $9,165,228 of which $2,596,900 is for Clement Howell. The budget for the secondary education expenditure for 2022/23 is $11,016,159 of which $3,308,812 is Clement Howell and $2,313,312 is Long Bay. These figures exclude the expenditure for the education department and administrative zone which is a further $10,678,654.

The total budget therefore on elementary and secondary education for 2022/23 is $14,060,043. There are 4,500 students so if we divide $14,060,043 by 4,500, the result is $3,124.45 per student. Now let us include the education department and the administrative zone, the total for education would be $24,738,697 and the price per student is $5,497.49.

What if the Government had to accommodate the 2,500 students in the private schools? If we were to use the ratio above, 7,000 students would cost the Government $21,871,150 without the education department and administrative zone. If we include the education department and administrative zone, the cost would be $38,482,430.

Current Public Private Partnership

The Government currently has a subsidy program in place whereby students that are on the waiting list for the public schools, the Government will pay the private school the cost of an untrained teacher which is around $2,000 per month and the parents pay only between $100 to $150 a month to that private school.

The Government also has a voucher system providing families in need to pay for their children at private schools.

The expenditure for the above two items is represented in the budget line item, grants to private schools and amounted to $1,130,716 for the year end 2021/2022 and for 2022/2023, the budget is $1,072,600.

The Proposed Public Private Partnership Model

The school fees are very high in the Turks and Caicos and quite frankly, I don’t know how some parents are able to pay school fees. In fact, some parents were not paying the school fees to the private institution and consequently schools such as TCI Middle was forced to close its doors. I am not sure about the financial situation at Ashely Learning Center, a private school that caters to special needs individuals, but that school recently closed its doors.

While I do like the voucher system described above, I think the Government should eliminate the current structure and do either one of the following

  1. Provide a subsidy to all private schools for $5,500 for each student. The $5,500 is based on the average price of $5,497.49 calculated above.  Furthermore, the Government should make an agreement with the private schools that they will not increase their school fees. However, the parents will pay the difference between the $5,500 and the private school fees. If the school fees at the private schools are less than $5,500, then the Government should not pay $5,500 but rather pay the lower school fees which means the parents will not have to pay anything.
  2. Alternatively, the Government can provide a subsidy of $5,500 to the private schools for locals only. However, is this option fair given that the Government is paying for 4,500 students in the public schools of which 70% of the students there are non-Turks and Caicos Islanders.

Conclusion

I know that this recommendation of providing subsidy to the private schools will cost the government an additional $13,750,00 (5,500 x 2,500), but it will certainly ease a burden on parents and increase a strong relationship between the Government and the Private Schools.

What if there were no private schools? Wouldn’t the Government have to provide educational access to all 7,000 students? Furthermore, if the Government is paying $17,325,00 (3150*5500) for 3,150 (4,500*70%) non-Turks and Caicos Islanders in the public schools, then there should be no issue with subsidizing for 2,500 students in the private schools.

Believe it or not, the existence of the private schools is a significant help to Government. If the Government had to accommodate 7,000 students, they would have to invest in more buildings and perhaps incur more expenses.

Obviously, the Government must ensure that these private schools are up to standards and meet the requirements that Government has for its public schools.

england
Community Articles, History and Education,

There is no need to have two weekday holidays for the Queen’s birthday and platinum jubilee

The UK does not do it so why should we

Introduction

Traditionally, British Overseas Territories set aside a weekday as a public holiday (normally in the month of June) to celebrate the birthday of the Queen of England. However, her birthday is in April. Based on my research, the UK celebrates her birthday in June due to the weather being good. Furthermore, the celebration is on a Saturday in the UK. Therefore, the UK does not have a public weekday holiday to celebrate her birthday.

This year the Queen will be celebrating 70 years as the Queen and the UK will be doing a bank holiday on Friday 3rd June in honour of this. In addition, the holiday in the UK that was in May was moved to Thursday 2nd June so that they can have a long weekend of celebrations.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has recently announced a two-day holiday in honour of the Queen’s birthday and Jublilee. I don’t see the need for us to have an additional holiday. I don’t know what events are planned but I believe any additional celebration could have been done on Saturday.

Are the Overseas territories important to the Royal Family?

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, (William and Kate) recently visited three independent territories of the Caribbean, namely Belize, Jamaica and Bahamas as part of the Jubilee celebration of the 70 years of the reign of the Queen. I still cannot comprehend this as there remains several British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean and they did not visit one of these territories. It is not that I wanted them to come to Turks and Caicos or any other territory, but I think it is an insult to visit these independent territories and not visit the countries that are still singing the British National Anthem. I am quite aware that these independent countries are members of the Commonwealth and hence that is their reason for the visit. I don’t know.

The Queen first and last visit to the Turks and Caicos was in 1966. The last time any member of the Royal Family visited the Turks and Caicos was over twenty years ago. Let me make it clear, it is not that I wanted the Royal Family to visit us, but it is the principle behind the whole thing.

I have concluded that they do not consider the Overseas Territories significant, but our cabinet considered the Queen’s birthday and her reign for 70 years as significant and agreed in Cabinet to have two weekday holidays.  I think it is time for us to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery and educate and promote the residents on the pros and cons of Independence.

Too many holidays already

There are too many holidays in the Turks and Caicos already. Why do we need to add another holiday and I know it is just for this year alone?  The Queen’s birthday is normally celebrated on the island of Grand Turk and if this year they want to celebrate it too on the island of Providenciales, it can be done on a Saturday. Holidays are very expensive for businesses and additional holidays should not be endorsed or promoted.

Let us promote a sense of national pride

I think we need to review our holidays and consider replacing some of them with the birthdays of our ancestors who have made a significant stride in the history of our country. This alone will promote a sense of national pride. We do not celebrate the birthday of one Turks and Caicos Islander but yet we are celebrating two days for the Queen.

In Bermuda, they discontinued the public holiday for the Queen and replaced it with National Heroes Day.

In BVI, the holiday used to be on a Saturday, however, for the last three years, it has been on a Friday.

Conclusion

I have nothing against the Royal Family nor the British, but I think it is time for us to review this tradition. If the UK does not have a weekday as a holiday to celebrate the Queen’s birthday, then why should Turks and Caicos

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