There could hardly have been a more appropriate time to expound on, or remind parents of the duties and responsibilities they have to their offspring than yesterday, the start of the new school year. And to be truthful, the point, remarkably, was not belaboured –– yet could not have been missed.
Principals, for the most part in stirring and inspiring ways, made it clear what they expected of their students in the coming school calendar, and what they might look to from parents and guardians in respect of their charges’ support and guidance. After all, we will not be oblivious to the probability that a child denied could be a future destroyed or, worse yet, some national or international greatness smothered.
Indeed, if the expression of all this, year after year, has before gone unheeded, not many a parent will have missed the lesson therein this time around. Surely, much will be expected too of the progenitors among us –– in caring and rearing.
Without recognizing the full potency of her utterance yesterday morning, Barbados Scholarship winner of Christ Church Foundation School, Cheryse Greenidge (the first in 60 years), may well have offered us on the platter the stimulant for a grand school year and others to follow with her “secret” of success: “motivation” and “balance”.
These two attributes will be of import as we as parents, teachers, a community pursue the development of our nation’s children. We cannot stress enough that our children’s welfare rises above all other interests, and that their care, safety and education must be at the centre of all our challenges and transactions.
To have a hands-off attitude –– as is the wont of some –– will be nothing short of irresponsibility and recklessness.
Parents and guardians need to be there continually for their young ones, earning their confidence and respect.
Indeed confidence and respect will be crucial, if we shall heed the call of the president of the Barbados National Council for Parent-Teacher Associations, Rhonda Blackman, for students –– with the support and insistence of parents –– to forego those ZR vans that do nothing for character building and at best offer exercises in joyriding away from school.
Confidence and respect will be critical, if we will see to it that our young ones, nurtured in the habit of punctuality, get to school on time, as is the declared focus and goal of Minister of Transport Michael Lashley, who has served notice of a Cabinet-bound proposal that will present students with a deadline to get on Transport Board buses to benefit from free transportation.
The complaint of Mr Lashley –– as it is also of Minister of Education Ronald Jones –– is the abuse of the system and school lateness, the decrease or elimination of which could come by schoolchildren boarding buses after a particular time on mornings being made to pay for their own travel.
Naturally, it is debatable whether Mr Lashley’s 8:45 a.m. deadline isn’t too soon. But as the minister has promised, heads will come together on this paper to go before Cabinet; and we trust the appropriate stakeholders will have some say in its structure, components of which ought to relate to punctuality itself of the Transport Board bus service.
In light of last week’s shooting on a route taxi, we are not unsympathetic to Ms Rhonda Blackman’s view that students would be safer –– and parents more secure –– if the minors would avail themselves, in good time, of the free and predominantly safe public transportation provided by the Government, rather than be put at varied risks by commuting on the ZR vans and the like.
Interim chairman of the Association of Private Transport Operators (APTO), Morris Lee, is not so minded, arguing that violence is not limited to ZR vans; that the Transport Board has had its share of fights on its buses as well.
While we will not challenge, to a point, Mr Lee’s defensive stance, we cannot see how he could turn a blind eye to or be incognizant of the debilitating subculture of the ZR vans and its consequent bad examples of breach of the traffic laws, dismissal off authority, and engendered social dangers.
It was the awareness of this disconformity and anarchy into which our nation’s children were being lured that saw former Prime Minister David Thompson insisting on “the free bus fare programme” in the first place –– to save them from the clutches of the undesirable.
We stand by young Scholar Miss Greenidge that motivation to do right is key to success in whatever endeavour. More now than ever our offspring need to be spurred on to do right.
As we said at the start, a child misled and denied may well be a future destroyed. And vile and degenerate adults will be to blame for it!
In short, the future lies in the hands of caring Mum and Dad.