???Nothing has gone wrong with our young people,??? says this island???s Education Minister, Ronald Jones.

This was stressed today as the Minister addressed a captive audience at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, at the start of a stakeholders??? conference on the topic:Facing Tomorrow with Today???s Students.

Accepting that the world was changing in a very dynamic manner, bringing to the fore all kinds of issues that were impacting everyone, he said: ???Not only our young people, but we as adults, we are also bombarded??? so therefore, sometimes it is grossly unfair to isolate and to select from the midst of everything that is happening only a particular small segment of our society; the 15,000 plus young people of Barbados.???

He noted that there was no need to fear the future once stakeholders worked to assist students, and pointed out that the minority was challenged by several things, including being devoid of a hot breakfast on mornings ???to fill that emptiness in their body???.

???Today, there are still many of our young people hungry,??? Minister Jones said, while applauding organisations that assisted with breakfast programmes.

Those in the education system were told that they had to gain an understanding of the deficits and defects which existed within a child???s total personality, and the Minister urged stakeholders to undertake that examination while reaching out, with love, care and concern, to that student who was ???simply begging for [attention]???, when they displayed behaviours that were not the norm.

Mr. Jones also had advice for the students participating in the conference. He called on them to be leaders in their schools, saying: ???See yourselves as part of the responsible sector of Barbados that can talk to a friend, a colleague, a brother or sister sitting next to you in class and help them too.???

Meanwhile, in his message, contained in the conference programme, Minister Jones said the issue of deviance within the school system could not be allowed to hold leaders and managers to ransom.

While stating that often the work of achievers in sports, culture, the arts and academia tended to be highlighted in schools, he said: ???However, another agent is also at work undermining the work of the leaders, managers and teachers within our system.??The issue of how students conduct themselves on and off the school premises has made headline news and has been some cause for concern.???

Stressing that the two-day conference aimed to examine how to address and change behavioural issues confronting school and society, he added: ???We cannot turn a blind eye to the reality, of the changing attitudes of some of our children as we seek to push our transformative educational agenda. The acts within our schools as highlighted by school management have widened to include violation of pornography laws as well as physical harm and threats to the person.???

The Minister disclosed that some teachers had been targets of violent acts within schools and said there was a need to ensure educators were protected.

The conference, he added had to be placed in the context of being part of the efforts of the Education Ministry to ensure that the new era of transforming Barbados??? educational system, did not take for granted the real issue of how students??? behaviour within our schools, on our roads and in society, could undermine national development goals, as well as students??? ability to achieve and succeed.


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