This crisis in student delinquency must be dealt with NOW!
Getting Back on Track - by Roy Paul
Kaieteur News
March 2, 2007

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While we grownups wrangle about the VAT and its effects on our household budgets, our young people are spending increasing sums of our money acquiring alcohol, tobacco and even illegal drugs. While we are absorbed with ethnic discrimination and government excesses and imbalanced treatment, our children are more and more being influenced by their peers into sexual misadventures and other forms of misconduct.

During the time that we spend in the rum shops and parties, our young people are creating their own extreme forms of entertainment. Even as we dig deep into our resources to enable them to acquire a sound education, a large percentage of our students waste their time and do not take any of their teaching at school seriously.

It is a source of anger and frustration that, while there are many agencies and persons who have been for years working towards, and bringing to the attention of those who control our education institutions, the need for a thorough revamping of the system to include a large module geared to the development of moral values, especially among our younger students, little has been or is being done to address this serious lack of any programmed behavioral instruction in the school curriculum.

This is also a personal disappointment to me, as I have been active, not only at the media level, but practically at classes at the teachers' training colleges, at seminars involving practising teachers all over the country and in the classrooms of several secondary schools, as well as parenting seminars all over the country, in imparting moral and family life development.

In light of the constant manifestations of gross misconduct among our young students which we are now witnessing, it may now be appropriate for us who went the extra mile to maintain these programmes to say: “We told you so” to those in authority who had at most, lukewarm support for any of these efforts.

It is no secret that the curriculum at our learning institutions caters overwhelmingly to academic achievement, and little or no attention is paid to the inculcation of any value system from the level of teacher training right down to the nursery level.

Whatever you may find of this nature would stem from the initiative of some individual principal or teacher, sometimes from his own conviction that this ingredient of his charges' education is vitally necessary to their personal development, but many times because he has proved that this would improve the overall behaviour at his institution.

We have now reached the level of a crisis, where we are witnessing extremely dysfunctional behaviour by students, and we will be following the pattern of the proverbial ostrich if we do not realise the gravity of the situation and take immediate measures to effect an improvement of the situation.

I have stated before that, from our past experiences, any significant step towards development of a moral education programme in our schools depends largely on the convictions of the people who are in charge of the system at the national level, and whether they are prepared to sacrifice some of the short-term benefits of examinations success for the long-term advantages of a decent, responsible and law-abiding citizenry.

It is sometimes disappointing to realise that some of these individuals have found fault with any kind of spiritual input into our children's training, in spite of our being an overwhelmingly religious nation, simply because they do not realise that man is a spirit before he is a physical entity, and therefore any permanent learning towards improvement of his performance as a person has to take place in this spiritual aspect of his being.

I believe that the new Minister of Education will appreciate this line of reasoning, and I feel confident that he will react to any recommendations towards any permanent improvement of the conduct of our students, both personally and as recipients of a practical education.

I would like to bring to his attention that the team that had developed a moral education curriculum on the initiative of the Curriculum Development Centre is only too willing to make their findings and their energies available to him in any effort directed towards institution of a moral and family life education programme in our schools.

In this national crisis, which I believe is worse than any disaster that our country has ever suffered, I sincerely hope that he will respond favourably.