Government MP James Paul has added his voice to the national debate surrounding a 14-year-old student who was recently expelled from the Springer Memorial School for refusing to pick up a wrapper as ordered by both her teacher and the school’s principal.
So far, the student has missed out on nine weeks of learning, after she was initially barred from re-entering the classroom, and then ordered off the school compound last week.
The Ministry of Education has offered to transfer the student to the Ellerslie Secondary School but the girl’s mother, Elecia Weekes, who met with Minister of Education Ronald Jones on Friday, has refused to accept the offer, claiming that it puts her child at a disadvantage.
Up to late this afternoon, Weekes said she was still awaiting word from Jones, who had promised to work on a solution to the impasse.
However, addressing a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Christ Church South meeting last night, Paul took issue with the parent’s handling of the matter, which he described as “unfortunate”.
“As a father, as a human being, if my child came home and told me, ‘daddy my teacher asked me to pick up a sweetie paper’, I would tell him, ‘go and pick it up’,” Paul stated.
“What we [parents] don’t understand is that we’re doing . . . tremendous psychological damage to our children when we pick up fire rage on certain issues, because [of] the long term consequences to that child, the character of the child,” he added.
Reflecting on traditional Barbadian education values, Paul noted that in the past schools were criticized for making students scrub their desks, but, he said, students were taught a “very relevant” lesson on maintaining a healthy school environment.
Paul also suggested that another important lesson which parents must teach their children was that “life is not fair” while calling for the current debacle, which has been playing out in the press, to be settled in private.
“It does not do justice to the child . . . it does not do justice to the parent either.
“It is sad, because when something like that comes to the forefront of national attention in the way it has, it [begs] us to look at ourselves as a country and ask, ‘where are we going in this year of [50th anniversary] independence; what are the things that we need to forget; what are the things that we need to maintain and what are the things we need to grab on to that we are not doing now?’” Paul added.