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No sympathy

Education Minister Jones chatting with students at today’s seminar.

Minister of Education Ronald Jones will not be shedding any tears for parents who find themselves before the law courts charged in connection with their children’s failure to go to school.

Jones told students from a number of secondary schools this morning as he addressed the opening of a seminar they were involved in to talk about the Convention on the Rights of the Child, that parents should not keep children from school or in any way allow them not to attend.

“Within the regular compulsory environment you should go to school; but there are some parents in Barbados who deny that right to children. They check them into school and when they hit eight, nine, 13, they are outside of school – not because the school put them out, but because of neglect of parents,” said Jones.

He recalled that recently parents were taken to court for such acts, stating: “Children should be in school. Therefore, I didn’t shed a tear because parents must never abscond, run away from their primary responsibility and that is taking care of their children. So if you deny the child the right to education, you should be brought before the laws of the land.”

He said he was not denying that sometimes the task before parents in dealing with children was a tough one, but that there were avenues available to parents that should be taken advantage of in such circumstances.

“Parents get trouble from children, I know that. There are some children who give trouble. But if you therefore can’t deal with them alone there are other state institutions that come in to give help and assistance, counselling, psychological analysis, a custodial environment, which is a protected environment; so that you can, with the right quality of teaching and support, reach your true potential.”

This, he contended, was what the UN Convention spoke about in dealing with issues of the rights of children. Regular attendance, he said, was part of that.

Despite earlier comments by UNICEF Representative, Khin Sandi-Lwin, about the issue of corporal punishment still being sanctioned in schools, the minister said he would not be drawn into a lengthy dialogue on the matter, though he stated that all he was convinced that lashes did was encourage pain.

He commented that he did not know if lashing coerced discipline or inspired behavioural change especially after it was removed. He told the students though that he believed abusive households created children who would become challenges to that home and by extension society in later years.

Jones challenged that it was the value system given to those children that would make the difference.

“In order to make human beings change, go through modification in their lives, you have to create the right value system. You have to create the appropriate value system. You have to let people know what is right, what is acceptable, what is good for them within the context of children.

“So the abusive community that does not care for a child, is the community that will suffer as a result of that child, when that child grows up. The abusive household will suffer as a result of the abused child when that child grows up. The anger in the bosom becomes the gun in the hand, becomes the sword on the wrist. The criminal comes out as a result of that neglect, the fostering of anger that cannot find escape.” (LB)

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