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During the course of the academic year, the Ministry of Education plans to develop and expose children to material that will lead them towards behaviour change and basic and broadly acceptable values.

Portfolio Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, said the move comes against the background of what appears to be a “national ambivalence about values within the society” where “some of the certainties of the past are no longer accepted”.

He stated that as a nation “we need to consensually agree on the values and attitudes that we are willing to accept as a people”.

The Minister was addressing the opening ceremony of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association Principals’ Conference 2013, on Wednesday, April 24, at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.

Mentioning the recent withdrawal of printed material from the Health and Family Life Education curriculum, Rev. Thwaites said the Government’s position on the matter is very clear.

“Our notion of healthy family life is the relationship between a man and a woman, with tolerance and compassion for those who have adopted a different lifestyle, but we are certainly not going to direct people in terms of something that we do not consider normal,” he stated.

The Education Minister noted that the criticisms received in relation to that issue have caused queries from some people as to what should be accepted with regards to good social values. He insisted that there are some things that Jamaicans have to be clear about as it relates to values.

Rev. Thwaites argued that simplicity in lifestyle, respect for each other, faithfulness and solidarity “are a few of the basic things that are useful in terms of building a society and making individuals happy”.

He appealed for the help of the independent schools in building good social values and fostering behaviour change.

By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter