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Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, has emphasised that the Government does not view parenting as an optional function, but one that is critical to national development.
The Minister was speaking at the launch of Parent Month, held at the Ministry in Kingston, yesterday (October 29). Parent Month will be observed in November, under the theme: ‘Parenting…Right from the Start’.
“In Jamaica we view parenting as a social function that ends in itself. It is almost an optional function of society, where we don’t really believe that there should be standards and accountability for having children. In other words, the function of child rearing should just be left on its own to evolve in any which way it evolves. Unfortunately, in the Jamaican context, our parenting function has not evolved in such a way that it is able to meet the challenges that a developing nation is faced with,” the Minister argued.
Mr. Holness pointed out that the challenges faced include the growth of the information age, crime and violence, and the growth of hostility in the society.
“Our parenting functions have not been able to address these challenges sufficiently, so the Government looks at parenting, not as an optional social function, but an important function for national development,” he said, adding that parenting also has an economic function.
“We see parenting as an economic function as well; the quality of our parenting impacts on the quality of the human resource that goes into our economy, and we also see parenting as an important function for supporting the education system, because the quality of the raw material that goes into the school system is determined by the quality of parenting that takes place within the home. It is a critical function for the development of our society,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, Senior Advisor in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Rebecca Tortello, who chairs the Parent Month Planning Committee, informed that there would be a number of activities for the month-long celebrations.
“The events planned for this November include training sessions and workshops, ably organised by our Community Relations Education Officers in our schools, the Guidance and Counselling unit, the Transformation Team and the Jamaica Library Service around the island,” she pointed out.
Dr. Tortello said that the theme, ‘Parenting.Right from the Start’, was carefully selected to address effective parenting.
“The theme was carefully chosen because effective parenting starts long before the baby is even en utero. It involves emotional, physical and financial readiness to even become a parent. Effective parenting also involves a commitment to continue working to become the best parent we can be, right from the start. If all parents learn to parent right, right from the start, then all of our parents can become gold medal parents,” she said.
The objectives of Parent Month include providing recognition and support for parents, and providing opportunities for parents to increase their knowledge of effective parenting.
Parent Month 2008, is being supported by a number of agencies, including the Ministry of Education, the Coalition for Better Parenting, the Ministry of Health, Early Childhood Commission, the Child Development Agency, Jamaica Council of Churches and the National Parent Teachers’ Association.