JIS News

Three publications, which look at parenting in Jamaica and its role in national development, were yesterday (November 26) launched at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
The publications are entitled: ‘Parenting in Jamaica’ by Dr. Heather Ricketts and Professor Patricia Anderson; ‘The Changing Roles of Fathers in Jamaican Family Life’ by Professor Patricia Anderson; and ‘Parental Involvement in Education in Jamaica’ by Dr. Grace-Camille Munroe.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education (MOE), Mrs. Audrey Sewell, commended the authors for their well-researched studies, which she said, all point to grave issues.
“The studies being launched point to serious challenges to effective parenting in Jamaica and the three most significant are, limited knowledge of child development, high levels of parental stress, and limited father involvement,” she noted.
She said that the Ministry recognises that the issue of parenting must incorporate discussion on the socio-economic environment and the issue of poverty, the Jamaican family structure and organisation, the limited involvement of fathers in family life and education of their children, and exposure to crime and violence.
She informed that the MOE is working assiduously on a number of initiatives to better assist parents and aid in the development of good parenting skills.
“At the Ministry, we are working towards the day when we will have parent support facilitators attached to all our schools, most likely working with clusters of schools, and these will not necessarily be new positions but we have to redesign the jobs of some persons,” Mrs. Sewell stated.
Continuing, she noted “we are working towards the day when all new parents, upon the birth of their children, will receive effective parenting information and materials and know where to go to get help if and when needed. We are also working towards (developing) a national parenting information clearing house with satellite information centres located throughout the Jamaica Library Service (JLS) that will serve parents island wide”.
Stressing that positive parenting is critical to national development, she said that it helps to “prevent violent behaviour by changing the way we speak to each other, discipline our children, and the way we negotiate aspects of our daily lives”.
Meanwhile, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) representative, Mr. Robert Fuderich, pointed out that the launch of the parenting publications will help to support the establishment of the National Parent Support Commission.
“The launch of the research publications are so essential in providing an evidence base to the establishment of the National Parenting Support Commission (and) in providing research that will make those in parent education more effective and their interventions more targeted, but also still relevant because this research comes at a crucial time in Jamaica,” he explained.
According to Mr. Fuderich, if Jamaican families are strengthened, then the challenges that exist can be addressed.
“This whole issue of strengthening the Jamaican family and empowering parents with the proper guidance is the development issue and if we can get this right, we will have the essence to meet all the subsequent challenges that are faced here in Jamaica,” he emphasised.
The launch was spearheaded by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) with support from UNICEF. The three parenting publications will be made available to the public at a date to be announced.

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