Chief Executive Officer of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, Shawn Clarke has called for the island’s children to be exposed to vocational studies at the start of their secondary education, to help students not academically inclined to fit into the school system.
Clarke, founder of the mentoring organization that currently tends to over 700 children sent for counselling by either the school or parents because of deviant behaviour, said that too many children are force-fed academic studies despite evidence that they are not absorbing the teaching.
“You have four years of pushing academics in these young people’s face, you get them frustrated with learning, the school system, the classroom,” he told an audience of mainly parents and children in the programme, gathered yesterday at the New Testament Church, River Road, for the annual prize-giving ceremony.
The counsellor who holds a Master’s in Human Resource management, added, “then on reaching 15 or 16 years old, you try to send them into skills training, into Polytechnic, more learning, more classroom. But the child is already frustrated with anything called learning, anything called a classroom”.
He said, “We … need to start teaching our young people vocational subjects from First Form. Let’s develop craftsmen, tradesmen in this country, it is not only going to be beneficial to those young people but at the end of the day it will be beneficial to Barbados”.
Making it clear that academic learning is important, he however questioned, “is our educational system really geared towards helping our young people, we say leave no child behind, but are we working towards not leaving any of our young people behind?”
He gave an example of a young person repeating First Form for three consecutive years, and declared, “you cannot say to me that this young man is deliberately repeating First Form, or doing things to remain in first form for three years, to go through the torment, the torture and the taunting.
“Something has to be fundamentally wrong with this young man in terms of his psychological development, the way how he processes things,” Clarke asserted.
He said that while the student might not be taking in the academic teachings, he may be, “good with his hands”, but would become frustrated with the education system which, insists on “pushing the academics down his throat”.
“I think it is time that we start looking at developing the holistic child,” Clarke said.