Distressed by the level of indiscipline and problems facing the island’s schools, a top educational official has urged teachers to make use of the Regional Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum.

Deputy Chief Education Officer (Ag), Joy Gittens, speaking at the start of a HFLE workshop, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, told primary school teachers: "We need to start HFLE early in the teaching. We have to be able to integrate the life-skills into our teaching, because these students need a level of self-esteem; [they] need an understanding of their sexuality; [and] how to handle anger.

"A lot of our young people now-a-days, when some-body upsets them, want to look for a big rock?? – their aim is to ???buss’ open somebody’s head. All of our schools seem to have a lot of big rocks and we need to de-rock our schools but to [do so] we need to teach them the life skills first."

The official, who holds responsibility for schools, had earlier given an account of her concerns regarding students at the primary and secondary levels. Among these, she listed the failure to properly integrate students back into the system; a high incidence of expulsion among 13 and 14 year olds, constant reports from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on girls less than 15 years old delivering babies and secondary school boys testing positive for marijuana use of over 600 nanograms.

Urging primary school teachers, at both public and private levels, to be advocates for imparting life-skills to young people, Ms. Gittens said this was necessary to allow them to make the right choices. "… if we have these individuals in front of us, we have to find the tools to try to handle them," she maintained.

The one-day workshop, sponsored by the United Nations Children Fund, aims to sensitise primary school teachers about the new curriculum for Health and Family Life Education, currently being introduced across the region.

It is expected that at the end of the session there will be a comprehensive response for the delivery of HFLE in primary schools and an increased percentage of personnel trained through its ???Train the Trainer’ module capable of identifying life-skills that can effect behavioural change. The workshop also intends to advocate for the sustainability of HFLE.??jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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