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Graduations Today - Who Benefits

Preparations for graduations are taking place around the island as students prepare to take that step forward.Just not too far back, graduations were for university and high school students, but today, a younger crowd has started to graduate - a much younger crowd.


Students from pre schools and primary schools will also line up to take the walk to receive a scroll, a symbol of achievement while they pose in elaborate outfits, gowns and mortarboards as excited parents take photographs.


But is this really necessary?  Can a preschooler appreciate the meaning to a graduation and how does it benefit a primary school student?Hundreds of outfits will be sold or made, gifts purchased and elaborate venues across the nation will profit from expensive dinners, parties and even limousine rentals will cash in on some business.


Clearly, graduations are big business, but how does it really benefit a four or five year old or even an eleven year old child?Proponents of graduation ceremonies say they bring schools and families together, support children as they move on to higher levels of academics and celebrate students’ achievements.


On the other hand, it is argued that graduations at preschool and primary school level may contribute to a need in children for constant validation from outside forces.It is also argued that costly graduations put many parents at a terrible disadvantage as they struggle to cover the expense and sometimes it is two children in the family who need to be outfitted for the big event.


One mother spoke to me about having her son graduate from secondary school while her younger daughter was graduating from primary school and she had to call on family members to assist her.Imagine a graduation planned mostly by the teachers where the cost of the graduation package is BD$300. That cost does not include a photo shoot which was arranged separately for an additional BD$75.


The photo shoot allows the student to be photographed in cap and gown because the cap and gown is not worn on the graduation day.  Instead each class is given a special colour and students have to buy outfits in that particular colour.Add to that, girls must have 'heels' at practice sessions.


Imagine a student who does not have heels, and who live with a granny who does not have heels and whose pension cheque cannot afford the BD$300 plus the BD$75 for the photo shoot plus another BD$3/400 for outfit and shoes and then taxi fare as well.


What amazes me is that these graduations can be held on the school compound with cap and gown to remove the cost of expensive outfits and photos can be taken even with cell phones as they walk on graduation day. 


How disappointing that we complain about the cost of this and that and then we plan a costly graduation for students who are mostly from the lower socio-economic group.


Graduations of high school and college students carry a special meaning, but while these should also consider the cost to parents, graduation of younger children might be better served with a big party where the children can do what they love to do, play and have fun.

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