Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is encouraging parents to put their children first when making important life decisions.
“Your first priority is your child. They come first,” he said, while addressing parents gathered at the Franklin Town Primary School in Kingston on Monday (May 21) for a parenting seminar.
Rev. Thwaites, who is also Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, where Franklin Town is located, told the participants that their most important responsibility is to be good parents and advised them to take that obligation seriously.
He said being a good parent means putting the child’s education and wellbeing before certain possessions or before the "bling". “We, as parents, must be prepared to support our children in education, before the hair piece, before the nails, and before the cigarette. I have no apologies,” he stated.
Minister Thwaites also advised the parents to watch over their children’s school work and pay close attention to their nutrition, noting that proper nutrition is important to a child’s development and affects their learning capabilities.
He encouraged the men to stand up to their responsibility as fathers, even if they are no longer in a relationship with the mother, and further urged them to ensure that their names are on their children’s birth certificate. “The image of the Jamaican man must change from that of being the village ram,” he said.
Director of Programmes at the Child Development Agency (CDA), Audrey Budhi, who also addressed the session, told the parents that they must respect the rights of their children. “While adults have rights, children have rights too,” she pointed out.
She noted that one such right is that of a good education and urged the parents to ensure their children go to school.
Stating that every child also has the right to a name, Mrs. Budhi said there are many children, who have not been registered or officially given a name. “A name shows importance and identity; so it is important to register your child and give them a name. We find that most children, who come into our care, they have no birth certificate. That is an infringement on the rights of the child. Everybody needs a name and an identity,” she said.
The seminar was organised by the Franklin Town Community Consultative Committee in collaboration with officers from the Franklin Town Police Station, in response to increased concerns about the safety and wellbeing of the children in the area, Committee member, Andrew Geohagen, said.
“(Concern) has been raised about the poor parenting practices of some parents, which is being linked directly to an increase in delinquency in schools,” he stated.
The seminar, he said, will seek to improve the parenting skills of many persons in the community to “improve the lives and future of the children”.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter