Students of the St. James Secondary School, along with parents and teachers, sing lustily at the speech day. (G. Brewster/BGIS)??

An appeal has been made for parents and teachers to recognise and applaud non-academic skills and talent in the same way they would academia.

The call came today from Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, while addressing the speech day and prize-giving ceremony of the St. James Secondary School.

Mr. Jones urged adults to "take charge and recommit to improving the island’s young people", by embracing, moulding and nurturing their children, regardless of diverse personalities, talents and characteristics.

"We have abandoned many of the values and virtues that have made us, our families, our community and our nation strong.?? We have to reconnect to our young people; we must not say, in the words of my grandmother, that they are ???own way’.?? They might very well be, because they have their own personalities, but personalities and characters looking to be moulded," he observed.

Using the opportunity to praise the St. James students for their outstanding performance within the last year, particularly in singing and sports, the Education Minister also called for the recognition of non-academic skills unique to each child.

"Educate them in the way of life, academics education is only one way. There is physical education, skills, values and virtues and a lot of things that come from emotional and spiritual learning…so that every person can grow," Mr. Jones added.

He asked for less comparison of students but more celebration of "our multiple differences in multiple ways", underscoring that this was one of the needs for the certification of non-academic talents and abilities.??

Pointing out the achievements of outstanding past student and West Indies cricketer, Deandra Dottin, the Acting Prime Minister remarked that the school had been speaking about her talents long before she made Barbados proud.??

He lamented: "Why was there no certificate for that kind of excellence, that excellence stands beside, and very strongly, and sometimes even more so, than that of the individual who could achieve four or five CXCs. It is just another talent, another skill, another ability that is stronger in Miss Dottin than it is in somebody else.?? She uses that talent for herself, for her family and to make her country proud.????????

"We recognise that there are so many different talents and abilities reflected in our students and young people, that, therefore, we have to give them the opportunity to be certificated," he said, stressing that the Caribbean Vocational Qualification was design to certify and recognise these types of achievements.

In his call for adults to recommit and reconnect to the island’s young people, Mr. Jones identified that only the strong, firm, committed, focused, self-directed, and self-disciplined should help to mould the youth.

He called on the entire staff of the St. James Secondary School to adopt the virtues and values that he identified, and, "therefore, recommit and refocus themselves to making these young people better than they [the students] think they are at times."

He explained that once this was done, there would be an improvement at the school, in the community and the island.

"We cannot keep making statements which say that the children are our future without truly working to create the future.?? The future is created from the knowledge and the work of the past…developing in the present, therefore, that we can continue along the given pathways of life in the future," the Education Minister maintained.??


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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