Education gives children a better self-image and builds their self-esteem.

Senior Education Officer, Patricia Warner, stressed this today as she addressed parents and children who attended the first in a series of seminars being held this week by the Ministry of Education Science Technology and Innovation at the Elsie Payne Complex.

An initiative of the School Attendance Section of the Student Support Services, the sessions seek to engage parents and their charges on attendance issues in the school.

It also aims to unearth ways to mitigate non-attendance and discuss channeling parents and students to other agencies which can assist with challenges, or at the other end of the spectrum, charge parents who are neglectful when it comes to ensuring their child???s right to education.

Explaining the importance of encouraging attendance at school, Ms. Warner told parents: ???It is not only because it???s the law of Barbados that every student under the age of 16, should be in a school setting. But I want to go beyond the law??? to what an education does for a person, how it empowers them; it makes you think about yourself; gives you a better image of who you are and your place in the world.???

The education official explained that school avoidance behaviour, according to the literature, came as a result of some children having to struggle with school work and not being able to read. ???Not being able to cope is the number one problem for a lot of school avoidance behaviour. But imagine if you don???t go to school. What happens with your struggling?

???You get slower and slower and you go further and further behind and you are not able to catch up. So what you do – you avoid school,??? she said, adding that avoidance was also a result of children???s poor relationships with their teachers, the principal and other school mates.

The seminar also saw presentations from Senior Psychologist, Juanita Brathwaite-Wharton, who is attached to the Student Support Services Unit, as well as officers from the Welfare Department and Juvenile Liaison Scheme. Magistrate Graveney Bannister urged the youth not to hang out on the block late at night knowing there was school tomorrow.

???You must obey your parents and come home at a decent time. ???Take heed and pay attention to your parents, your grandparents, your guardians who are fighting very hard to get an education for you. Many parents were not afforded that opportunity.

???Now the ball is in your court. The world is your oyster. You can work here in Barbados or anywhere else in the world if you have a particular skill. So don???t just give up and say ???No sense getting an education. I???m not going to get a job???; you must be more positive than that,??? he advised.

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