The many advantages of streaming

Jenifer Ripard (Streaming Turns Good Apples Into "Bad", February 14) came out with guns blazing without analysing my own letter on streaming. She mixed low achievers with disruptive children. There is a difference between those that want to learn but manage to do so at a slower pace and those who might be bright but just do not want to bother with education. We have our fair share of such children and at times their antics even reach the media.

In the early 1970s when my children were dumped into such a "modern" system, certain students used to interrupt the lessons as they stated clearly that they did not want to learn. These are the bad apples. Ms Ripard should not try to twist my words and assign to me statements that I had not made.

When in the 1940s I was at the Lyceum, there were students from various backgrounds. Some were even exempt from payment of fees. (Yes at that time families had to pay for education.)

Those whose fathers were labourers or farmers integrated well with the sons of academics and businessmen. The common factor was that all their families wanted their children to learn and as far as I recall all my mates at the Lyceum achieved a proper status in life.

By her own declaration, Ms Ripard is only interested in what happens during school hours. That is the reason why I stated that there is an urgent need to bridge the gap between school and home. The fact that she is not a social worker highlights my contention. School on its own will still leave certain children to drift towards the scrap heap. Certain children require more specialised attention and their education and guidance has to start from home. Without a proper link, children from certain homes are destined to become non-achievers. I also stated that there seems to be a need to evaluate the 11 plus examination which entails four subjects. I have my reservations about the age when such a selection takes place. At one stage or another, streaming will occur. If not, all children would be expected to attend the 6th form and also enter university. Using her argument, would Ms Ripard be ready to do away with Matsec, ordinary and advance levels. Is that not streaming?

Her remark about our female Minister of Education was out of context. At best her comments are a non sequitur. I only drew a parallel example of what had happened in the 1970s and warned the present minister not to fall into the same trap. I am not a male chauvinist pig but neither do I expect anyone to be anti-masculine. Ms Ripard should not try to antagonise the present minister against my arguments using such negative, puerile, influential insinuations. I have the highest esteem for and opinion of the minister and this is the reason that I do not want her to fall into any trap.

The National Minimum Curriculum and the Transition Documents mentioned by Ms Ripard are exactly what I said about a one size dress fits all. The adverse side of steaming affects the snobbish parents and the bullying children who would try to label other children as slow achievers. Once again this requires social work with the parents. With streaming or not, these jibes will still occur. Due to the importance of keeping this letter within limits I cannot expand any further but will shortly submit another letter to the Editor to tackle this topic from a different angle.


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