??(Courtesy of the Transport Board)

The Education Ministry is still finding challenges with students utilising the services of the Barbados Transport Board.

This was revealed today by Minister of Education and Human Resource Development Ronald Jones, as he spoke with the media on a number of issues.

While complimenting those students who remained disciplined in their "approach to learning," he said there had been some improvement in punctuality but it was marked sometimes by "the handicap of traffic and how buses moved on the island because there is no bus lane in the country".

He stressed: "We have a small land space. But if persons would demonstrate a little more care and regard for other moving persons on the streets, there would be significant improvements. If parents would urge their children to leave home a little earlier, sometimes fifteen minutes makes a difference and, therefore, if you could leave home at 6:45 a.m., you would find that you would get to work and school long before you should commence work or before the school bell rings."

He spoke of some children taking the bus and then getting off several bus stops away from their destination while other students who lived within 300 yards of the school would still wait for a bus. "Those things don’t make sense. You can see the school from where you are but you would [take the bus] because it is said to be free… you just get on. These are notions which don’t make sense. You are accustomed walking to school… the little exercise is also good… when we note that a number of our students are in fact also overweight or obese and it would also limit the congregating of other unsavoury elements."

Mr. Jones stressed that these changes in behaviours would help to improve the overall ethos of the transportation and movement of children.

Alluding to complaints about loud and vulgar music on our buses, he said he had met with the Association of Public Transport Operators and was willing to give them support to aid with the transportation efforts since the state did not have "the capacity to move all of our students at one time".?? Noting that this was "a step back

from a previous position" which he held, the Minister pointed out it was realised however that "you had to utilize some of them".

Mr. Jones stated that private operators, if they wanted to get the stamp of approval from the Ministry of Education for the movement of students, they would have to control their employees’ level of behaviour – the playing of vulgar and demeaning music on those carriers for the benefit not only of students but for Barbadians in general.

Praising the public for "speaking out", Mr. Jones indicated that during the course of the next few weeks, Ministry personnel (particularly attendance officers) would be paying some attention to this issue since "a few students from a few schools had been identified as almost in the vanguard of waiting and delaying to take a particular bus or to leave at a particular time".

"We are seeking to eliminate that [behaviour]," the Education Minister stressed, noting that the message this school year would be: "Get to school and get to school on time".?? He maintained that the Ministry would be seeking assistance from the transportation agencies, the police and schools, to emphasise this message.


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