Back-to-school season is in full swing. With book lists in hand and a determined spirit, parents
all over Jamaica are doing all they can to ready their children for the new school year. It means
stress from shopping, but there is also the thrill of new beginnings. Students, educators and
parents are excited about the new academic year and what it may bring.
The majority of public schools will open the first week of September. In light of such news, we
can't help but think back on the return-to-school period from the previous year when full-time
face-to-face schooling returned after two years of remote learning.
There is left over anxiety, of course, since this will be the first full return to the classroom since
Covid. Last year was really a dry run. It focused on students' readjustment to face-to-face school
after the pandemic. Happily, it was a smooth transition. Students once again interacted with
classmates, basked in school spirit, and did their extracurricular thing. We were even treated to
ISSA Boys and Girls Champs and Manning Cup, events we sorely missed during Covid-19.
This year, the majority of public schools will open the first week of September. Ideally we will
go back to the old normal. How that will work is anyone’s guess. The transition year taught us
that some of the changes the pandemic prompted weren’t all that useful. Disruption does a good
job of shaking things up but is not always conducive to easy settling. In Jamaica, we have pre-
Covid-19 issues that complicate things further. Poor infrastructure, not enough specialized
teachers, low pay, disengaged students and an alarmingly high rate of resignations dogged our
Fortunately, the Ministry of Education seems to have found the energy to tackle some of these
issues. With school reopening not far away, it seems that there is a decline in teacher resignations, although not as high as initially believed. Other good news is that the report of the Jamaica Education Transformation
Commission, chaired by Professor Orlando Patterson, offers useful prescriptions for the
challenges we face. The ministry also seems to have sorted out the issue of paid leave for
teachers, announcing that 1,500 approvals had been granted. Let’s hope that all of this will make
for an even better educational experience for our students and educators.