Human rights education for children was the centre of discussion when Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, received a courtesy call from the Head of Human Rights, Commonwealth Secretariat, Karen McKenzie recently, at his office at the Elise Payne Complex, Constitution Road, St. Michael.

During their talks, Ms. McKenzie explained that her organisation was seeking to integrate values such as respect and tolerance into the syllabi for 11 to 13 year-old students.

Noting that the Commonwealth would seek to work in partnership with the Ministry to implement the initiative, she said: ???This is about making children aware of their civic responsibility, not changing the curriculum but enhancing what is already there.???

Minister Jones acknowledged that human rights education was essential and pointed out that Barbadian children ???are not unfamiliar with the concepts??? of loyalty and respect.

He also insisted that using the notion of human rights education ???will not be a problem for us??? as it was already being taught in the Health and Family Life Education class in schools.

Commending the Commonwealth for their work in combating insensitivities, the Education Minister stressed while Government believed in equality and tolerance, ???we must however remain conscious to our own reality.???

???We teach tolerance in relation to race, class and religion??? but the path is not without obstacles. While we deal with traditional issues, there may be a back lash where others are concerned,??? he reasoned.

In turn, Ms. McKenzie emphasised that the Commonwealth sought to respect the cultural landscapes of each country outlining that issues such as violence, trafficking, poverty, domestic abuse and other vulnerabilities would be addressed.

She added that the human rights education pilot programme was currently being successfully undertaken in Mauritius and reiterated that the Commonwealth would assist the participating partner country with technical capacity and resources.

Minister Jones concluded: ???You have a partner in Barbados, but one that is conscious of the realities that we face.???

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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