Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites says the educational achievement of students is being severely compromised by poor values and attitudes, where focus is being placed on material possessions and popular culture rather than learning.
“We idolise bling, extreme fashions, whatever the current notion of popularity is,” he said, noting that many parents and grandparents, by their own conduct, foster these negative values, which are harmful to education.
The Minister, who was addressing the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Liguanea Plains recently at the Eden Gardens, St. Andrew, called on parents to set the proper examples by opposing those values that are inimical to educational attainment and national development.
“If we want to grow up our children properly, then proper parental examples and the espousal of certain types of language, of priority of expenditures and the espousal of values that will be lasting and which will inure to a climate of learning and of wholesome development, are essential,” he stated.
“We could build as many schools as we must and we could have the most acute technology used in the process of education, but unless we understand that at this juncture of our history that we have to have a certain approach to life, which is wholesome, which is simple, and which is more functional than $4,000 hairdos for teenage girls, who are failing in school, then we are going nowhere as a nation and we are selling our children short,” he argued.
Turning to the matter of literacy, the Minister said that increased emphasis is being placed on improving literacy skills across the education system, particularly at the early childhood level.
He said the intention is to introduce more trained early childhood teachers, noting that only 20 per cent of teachers at that level are trained.
“I believe the best way to achieve universal literacy is to start early and to do it right the first time and therefore, the emphasis of the Ministry of Education is to improve the levels of basic schools, infant schools and the first three grades of the primary school, all of which form the early childhood experience,” he stated.
The Minister’s address to the Rotarians was in observance of Literacy Month in March. In 1985, Rotary declared basic literacy to be a pre-condition to the development of peace.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter