Schools Challenged to Survey Children???s Sentiments

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Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, speaks to a rapt audience of secondary school students, yesterday at the????the opening ceremony of the National Schools’ Symposium to Observe the 22nd Anniversary of Barbados’ Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of The Child at the 3W’s Oval, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

A challenge has been thrown out to teachers and guidance counsellors, in particular, to undertake a survey on children’s sentiments towards school, the teaching profession and what they are exposed to on a daily basis within the home and educational institutions.

Education Minister, Ronald Jones, made the appeal yesterday as he wrapped up his address to over 60 students and their teachers attending the opening ceremony of the National Schools’ Symposium to Observe the 22nd Anniversary of Barbados’ Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of The Child at the 3W’s Oval, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

The event was held collaboratively with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and Team Action Barbados.

Expressing his desire to conduct such a survey, the Minister said: "I would sincerely love [the opportunity] to do a massive survey with some 25,000 or 28,000 students in our secondary schools or maybe 10,000 odd in the primary schools, about 35,000 students [at least]."

As he explained his rationale for the survey, Mr. Jones added: "I would like to conduct that survey among you [students] to look at how you feel about your school; your teachers; the responses of your teachers to you; Do you feel you suffer abuse? Do your teachers treat you well? Do you treat your colleagues well? Are you exposed to sexual exploitation [or] abuse? Do you see pornography at home? Do your peers show you pornography? And, do you feel your mind being damaged?"

The Education Minister, who is also responsible for Human Resource Development, suggested that such a project could be undertaken by guidance counsellors within the schools and he told students: "They would help you analyse the data… just get the information so that we can truly [make an] impact. Let teachers know what you feel about them because you have a right to a voice. The same right adults have to a voice, children have – a right to a voice too!"

Stressing that students must not be pushed aside, Mr. Jones, a former teacher, said words such as ???I don’t want to hear you’ should never be uttered to the children.

On a day when UNICEF’s Representative to the Eastern Caribbean Khin-Sandi Lwin heard that Barbados had achieved much in the area of universal, tuition-free primary and secondary education and was celebrating 50 years of this on the island, Minister Jones urged children to continue to stay in school and pledge "to be

the best". He also encouraged them to know all the rights in the UN Convention and respect the rights of others.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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