Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, has friendly banter with students who attended the 15th UNICEF Child Initiative Programme, today, at the 3Ws Oval at the UWI’s Cave Hill Campus. (C.Pitt/BGIS)??

Barbadians have been reminded that long before the United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child in 1990 the island had satisfied the right to a primary or foundational education.

Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, touted this today as he addressed the opening ceremony of the National School’s Symposium to Observe the 22nd Anniversary of Barbados’s Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of The Child at the 3W’s Oval, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

Speaking to an audience comprising UNICEF representative for the Eastern Caribbean Khin-Sandi Lwin, teachers, guidance counselors and students, Minister Jones zeroed in on Articles 28 and 29, which speak to education including making primary education compulsory and available free for all.

"We have gone beyond that. We have made education compulsory up to the age of 16. Many states have, some are in a different stage of progression. So up to 16, you should be in secondary school, but if you can’t complete secondary school at 16 the legislation doesn’t say that you are kicked out. I think the only constraint is available space. But up to 18 you should be able to go; to realise your differing potentials," Mr. Jones stressed.

Students heard too that this was necessary because they would all "finish life’s educational journey at different speeds". They were also told that they needed to dedicate their lives to the realisation of their own dreams.

??"An education and how you approach it is also valued," the Minister said warning them not to waste time or spend it on the cell phone "taking pictures that you should not be taking and placing them on the net".

"Youth is something that should be valued and cared. You have to value yourselves; your peers and your school have to care for you. That is why you are there," he stressed.

Contending that school must be an oasis that allows children not to be exposed to the vagaries of adults in a school setting, the Education Minister said: "Our children deserve the best place to learn and the best place is not the building [the school you go]. It is the education that is provided by those who are adults within that space."

Students were also reminded that with rights came major responsibilities. They were told of the need to take care of textbooks and other property at their schools.?? The Education Minister said: "If the state looks after you, you have a responsibility to look after those things that are provided as a right in your educational journey."

Mr. Jones threw up various challenges to the students and their teachers. He urged an explanation of some of the Articles contained in the Convention which impacted on them and called on the students to examine these with respect to what they wanted to see the nation achieve relative to the particular Convention, and if they were satisfied that after signing Barbados was in fact realising the Articles. "Are we practising what we signed on? And, are we achieving all of those Articles as outlined in The Rights of the Child?"?? the Minister queried.


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