KINGSTON — Corporate Area students, teachers and parents turned out in their numbers Wednesday (November 2), for day one of the International Youth Fellowship's (IYF) youth forum and parenting seminar.
The three-day function, scheduled November 2 to 4 at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, includes presentations from psychologists, counsellors, teachers and other professionals on the topic, “Effectively Communicating with our Youth”.
Endorsed by the Ministry of Education, the function is also being held in observance of Youth Month and Parents Month.
Principal of Jamaica College (JC) and Adviser to the Minister of Education, Ruel Reid, in his key note address advised educators that they must have genuine love and appreciation for youth, in order to be effective teachers.
"One of the questions I often ask teachers when interviewing them for work at JC is, ‘Do you really love young people? Do you understand adolescence?’, because there are problems you are going to face in the classroom, and you need to have an understanding of young people to appropriately deal with them,” he stated.
He noted that there are students dealing with serious emotional, financial and psychological issues, that teachers must be equipped to deal with. He listed some of the issues that often affect young people as divorce, separation, poverty, violence, abuse and migration.
"There are boys who are sexually abused, so let us understand that. There are those with financial problems and the issue of poverty, and others who live in communities overtaken by violence,” he said.
Mr. Reid urged teachers to carefully assess their students, not just academically, but also emotionally, to ascertain their real learning needs and to understand their behaviour. He disclosed that he has created a customer service-focused environment at JC, where students are treated as customers and should be viewed by teachers in that regard.
“Students are my customers. They are the primary reason why I have a school, so you have to have the teachers who understand that and are prepared to work from that point,” he stated.
Mr. Reid also noted that, every year, the school has a customer satisfaction survey, and students are asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the school and the teachers.
"They evaluate the principal, the vice principal, every service we provide and tell us whether we are doing a good job or not, and we respond to it," he said.
The JC Principal also argued that there is a parenting deficit in the country, noting that there are parents who have been doing an extremely poor job of caring for the needs of their children.
“We have this false notion in society that all the parents have to do is to send the children to school, and the school will take care of the problems. I know there are some who see the school as an oasis from their problems, but there are some problems that cannot be solved without the cooperation of the parents,” he stated.
He observed that the school and the home must work in collaboration, to unearth the true potentials of the nation’s youth.
Other speakers expected to make presentations at the seminar include Psychologist, Dr. Paulette McGregor, Chief Education Officer, Ministry of Education, Grace McLean and Director, IYF, Pastor Jin Hee Kim.
The IYF was established in 1995 and, since its inception, has grown to the point of having representation in some 80 countries. Its primary objective is to cultivate leaders of tomorrow, who possess humility, strong leadership skills and mutual understanding, through global fellowship.
The organisation seeks to engage youth through seminars, sporting activities, performances and community voluntarism.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter