|Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, and pupils of the Maria Holder Nursery Schoo admire the commemorative plaque. At right is Principal, Shelley Boyce. (A. Miller/BGIS)|
In an interactive session with the students of the Maria Holder Nursery School, Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, mentioned the significant contribution that trees play in human development and the environment.
During a Tree Planting and Unveiling Ceremony held today at that St. Thomas school to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Universal Free Public Education in Barbados, Minister Jones asked the three to five-year-old students: "Why are trees important?"
In response, the pupils shouted "…because we need food".
Mr. Jones added: "…Yes, we plant trees because we need food, and the food that we are planting this morning is a custard apple.?? As your principal said, it is not known to a lot of people, but it is an important source of minerals and vitamins..".
Speaking about the environmental benefits of trees, Minister Jones said: "We are talking about climate change in the world, and Barbados can be severely affected by climate change.?? [When we say climate change], we are talking about things like the melting of the ice caps in the north and south of the world, sea levels rising, the sun getting hotter, and flooding. And the tree is not only important for the food but for the protection of the environment."
Explaining to the children that the environment was everything around them, including where they went to school and lived, he added: "The more trees we plant in our country, the better for us.?? Trees die, trees grow, but we want to see more trees being planted."
Minister Jones urged the students to encourage their parents to plant a tree at home, and further stressed the importance of caring for the one at school.??
"This is your tree, it belongs to all of you and you will care it…?? Because it is important that as this tree grows, your education grows as well.?? You might not be here beyond a year or two, but you can always pass back and say to the principal: ???Can I see my tree?’?? You have to take possession of the tree," he said.??
Principal of the Maria Holder Nursery School, Shelley Boyce endorsed the Education Minister’s remarks, saying she was pleased to see that he supported having natural environments in schools.
"Not only does this celebrate 50 years of free public education in Barbados, but this tree planting and unveiling ceremony is fitting and in keeping with the Health and Family Life Education programme," Ms. Boyce said, adding that she was also happy that a custard apple tree was chosen because it is not a common fruit on the island.
Early Childhood Subject Coordinator at the school, Jacqueline Medford said they were grateful to leaders, past and present, who ensured that Barbadians enjoyed the privilege of free education from nursery to tertiary level.??
Ms. Medford further mentioned that the Maria Holder Nursery School was community oriented as it sought to include its traffic warden, vendors and the parents in any activities at the school such as the tree planting and unveiling ceremony.