Dear Honourable Minister of Education Anthony Garcia,
I write to you requesting your urgent assistance with a basic arithmetic problem: What is 15 minus six?
Dear Minister, I know your time is valuable; I know you have many important matters requiring your attention, but I beseech your help as personnel within various arms of your ministry (from the District Office to the Head Office, from the EFCL to the EFPPD) have all been unable to help me with this basic equation. I, a lowly mother with a simple Lits degree, am unable to solve this one on my own.
I ask you: what is 15 minus six?
Or, more specifically, what is left of a primary school student’s education when, of the fifteen weeks included in Term I, six weeks (and counting) are subtracted due to a sewer issue? What is left of a student’s education when, for those six weeks (which began in week four, so we’re in week TEN now), NO accommodations have been made available to prevent students under Standard 4 from falling woefully behind? What is left of said education when, in WEEK TEN, not a single official can provide a start date for repairs, but several have indicated that the project will take about a week to complete?
How many weeks do we have left now, Mr. Minister? How are teachers supposed to fit six weeks of education into however many weeks will be left whenever repairs are eventually made to Jerningham Government Primary School? How are students (especially those in Standards 4 and 5, who have SEA breathing down their necks) supposed to catch up to their peers, who were lucky enough to pursue their term’s education without interruption from sewage spewing from a decades-old system designed for a quarter of the school’s current student body?
I have so many questions, Minister Garcia.
Chief among them: Would you, as Principal of Fatima College, have allowed your school to sit empty and covered in excrement while your students went uneducated for a full six weeks? Would you have done whatever was necessary to ensure that their education was not jeopardized? Will you do something now for the young students currently falling further behind every day? Or is that kind of expediency not reserved for them?
Why isn’t there a palpable sense of urgency from anyone but those who have zero power to fix this mess?
The math isn’t adding up and I ask you, because — sympathies aside — multiple officials in every single department under you (departments directly responsible for ensuring that the nation’s children have safe and functional spaces to learn) have informed me in various ways that they don’t answer to me. They answer to you, though, because the proverbial buck stops with you.
So, what’s 15 minus six, Sir?
And what do YOU have to say to the students your Ministry continues to fail day after day?