Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination results announcement with Minister of Education, Technical and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw – September 6, 2021. (PMO)

Cognisant of the difficulties students faced over the past year as they navigated online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, has established a Mental Health and Wellness Committee to identify suitable activities for students.

Chief Education Officer, Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, said the mental health and wellness of children was important, and she informed the nation during a press conference at Ilaro Court today, that the Committee’s work was well advanced.

Among the activities identified, she noted were a students’ support group and a students’ hotline, where persons could call and share their experiences, if they so desired, stressing that additional information on the activities would be shared in the near future.

Dr. Archer-Bradshaw noted that apart from mental health and wellness, attention would be paid to the students’ physical health, since studies have shown that sitting in front a computer for hours led to a sedentary lifestyle.

“We have been meeting with members of the PAHO and also other organisations to discuss how we can address this particular issue. The Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Phillips Boyce, has already outlined the plan of action moving forward to get our students active. One of them, I recall, is called a Macarena moment, where students at a particular point in time, will stand, stretch, exercise,[and]  just get the body moving.

“I always say that if we have students who, can learn very well, and they are not physically active, then they are what they call ‘spinning top in mud.’ So we have to ensure that our children are physically active,” the Chief Education Officer emphasised.

Dr. Archer-Bradshaw also disclosed that the Mental Health and Wellness Committee was also organising activities for principals and teachers to ensure that they were mentally fit to carry out their tasks.

The Chief Education Officer also mentioned teachers hosting workshops and the development of a community of practice to share resources among themselves to assist students with special needs; the revival of students’ councils; strengthening of parent teachers’ associations; and implementation of parent support programmes as areas that would redound to the benefit of the educational system.

Dr. Archer-Bradshaw added: “As I started by saying, if we want to go far, we have to go together. And, I believe, even though the pandemic is rough, even though the pandemic brings change that we’ve never seen… we can make it together. And we can go extremely far.”

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