Parents in Barbados should not be lowering their standards to become their children’s friends.
This point was emphasised yesterday by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as he addressed the speech day of the Christ Church Foundation school, his alma mater.
After speaking extensively and glowingly of the foundation that was built for him at the school by those who taught there when he was a student in the 1960s, Stuart said the starting point for national development had to be a commitment to high standards.
“In this regard,” the Prime Minister said, “it is a fact that banks and other lending institutions can lower their interest rates to attract borrowing clients, and merchandise stores or other consumer outlets can lower their prices to attract customers, but parents cannot afford to lower their standards in order to be popular with their children, and teachers cannot afford the high cost of lowering their standards so that they can be popular with students.
“Parents will merit the respect of children, and teachers that of students, only if they insistently, consistently and persistently pursue the highest possible standards in the fulfillment of their respective roles.
“I know of no other way in which strong character and a solid reputation, whether for persons or institutions, can be built.”
But the Prime Minister said he was still warmed by the fact that in Barbados parents continue to attach high value to education.
“Because of this level of awareness, in this country the school continues to be regarded as a very important institution,” Stuart told his audience.
“Children spend the most active, alert and receptive hours of any day, not under the influence of their parents, but rather under the influence of their teachers.”
He head of Government then added: “While I am not intending in any way to absolve parents of the serious responsibilities that rest on their shoulders, it has to be conceded that the teacher performs a critical and strategic role in the life of the student. Historically, our schools have enriched and enlightened our homes, in the same way that our homes have enlightened and enriched our schools.
“The school and the home must continue to work together, therefore, each understanding and appreciating the role of the other, if the objective of a sound and rounded education is to be achieved.
“And while on the topic of a sound and rounded education, let me make this point. The distinction between qualifications and education must, at all times, be kept clear. Qualifications alone are not always evidence of a good education.
“Unfortunately, what is called education in some quarters is prized only or primarily for the results it can yield in market value. It is prized because it is thought to enable men and women to be successful in the material and very ordinary sense of that term.”
While stressing that hi intent was not to diminish “the importance of the market where skills are bought and sold”, the Democratic Labour Party leader added:
“But I want to suggest to you that education has to be prized, more importantly, for itself. It has to be seen as enabling those who lay claim to it to realise their moral and intellectual capacities. It has to be seen as giving to those who say that they possess it, that level of self respect that entitles them, as a matter of course, to the respect of others. It has to be seen as equipping those who have it with a surer hold on life, with sources of lasting strength and inward happiness.
“Education should always be in the nature of a stimulant; it should never be allowed to become an intoxicant. When education is a stimulant the tendency is to approach issues with an open mind; when it is an intoxicant, however, the tendency is to approach issues with an open mouth!” (RRM)