ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Principal of Baptist Academy Dr Hensworth Jonas is once again defending the school from criticism following a dominant performance by the school’s students at the Common Entrance exams.
The top student in the exam attends Baptist Academy.
One critic accused the school of selecting only those students who perform consistently well to sit exams.
“The Baptist Academy School only does so well because the pastor weeds out students who they think are weak,” was the comment of one aggrieved parent, and essentially sums up the feelings of the school’s critics.
Dr Jonas, however, said such criticism is “plain ridiculous” because the school has no such policy. He explained that the majority of admissions at the school come in at the day-care or pre-school level with students carrying on from that level.
“So we don’t have any real room for admissions, just one or two places may open up in either primary or secondary. One would have to think that you are screening babies. That would be ridiculous wouldn’t it,” Dr Jonas said.
He suggested the critics “are misguided and actually may manifest a bit of jealousy.” The pastor added further that very few students leave the school and in cases when they do, it is rarely through a fault of the student.
“We have one of the lowest attrition rates of any school in this country. Our students don’t leave us, ninety-something per cent of our students go all the way through,” Dr Jonas said.
“Most students who leave it’s not because of the student; it’s because of the parent not complying with our requirements for their participation in the life and education of their children,” the principal added.
He also defended the school’s stance on refusing students with non-compliant parents.
“We never give up on a student even when he or she struggles, but we do give up on parents who do not work with their children. The fact of the matter is I can not be these children’s dad and their mom. I am the principal, so this is a partnership between the home and the school,” Jonas said.
Meanwhile, Dr Jonas also defended the school’s decision to hike fees recently. The charge is that the school is being run more like a business rather than an arm of the church.
“This is not a business in any sense of the word; the kinds of decisions that we make are not good for business. There are people with money who over the years maybe have tried to influence policy in their favour and we just had to let them go,” Jonas said.
The pastor explained while the school tries to be businesslike to manage their resources in the best way, the main target is not to seek a profit.
Dr Jonas said a 1600 canteen, many upgrades in various areas and equipment, improvement in teachers’ salaries and the fact the school does not do any fund-raisers all justify the move to increase the school fees.
“We are probably the cheapest for value in the country and there are schools in this country that are charging three times what the Baptist Academy charges and they are not producing results,” Dr Jonas said.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)