For the past five years, it has been providing mentorship for secondary school children on a voluntary basis.
However, Supreme Counselling for Personal Development (SCPD) is seeking to play a more active role in the country’s school system, as it advocates for vocational subjects to be introduced at first form level in secondary schools.
SCPD Chief Executive Shawn Clarke complained over the weekend that for too long the education system has been “pushing academics down the throats” of students as their only option, resulting in those not academically inclined becoming disillusioned with schooling by the time vocational studies are introduced at fourth or fifth form level.
He also revealed that Supreme Counselling, which currently caters to over 700 students, had applied to the Ministry of Education for permission to offer a special programme for students who run afoul of the school system.
“In this programme, we’re simply asking the schools, that when a [student] is being suspended from school, don’t [send] that child home, suspend that child in the care of Supreme Counselling. We want that child to come to us,” Clarke explained.
He told a large gathering for the organization’s awards ceremony and dinner at the weekend that “as long as this programme is endorsed by the Ministry of Education and the principals, and you get seven days home, you would be spending the seven days with me.
“You will be wearing your school clothes the same was you wear them to school and we will be offering some kind of therapy for the reason that you’re sent home.”
Additionally, “we will request of the schools to send us the assignments,” said Clarke in explaining how
the Supreme Alternative to School Suspensions (SASS) programme would work.
He also warned that while, a lot of children currently see suspension as a vacation, “so you go home and roam the streets and do as you like, with the endorsement of the Ministry of Education, and with the blessing of the schools, that will soon come to an end”.
Opposition Member of Parliament for St Michael South East Santia Bradshaw, who was the featured speaker at the ceremony celebrating the achievements of the SCPD’s 2016 graduating class, also called for the introduction of guidance counsellors at the primary level, while complaining that many of the areas covered by Supreme Counselling were “treated like the outside child in the school curriculum”.
“If we had the social youth services that Supreme Counselling is seeking to offer more integrated within the educational system [at primary school], a lot of our young people would not be falling through the cracks in the way that they do,” she told the gathering at the New Testament Church of God, River Road, St Michael on Saturday.
“Guidance counsellors are usually introduced at the secondary school level, but in my everyday dealing with children, the challenges that we have, both in the judicial system, and within the communities, start from an early age, and can be identified from a very early age within the system.
“Children don’t become deviant at [ages] 16 or 18. You can tell from a very young age,” she said, adding that when a parent or teacher has be constantly calling a child’s name, “and the child is constantly in detention, then something is wrong.
However, “it doesn’t mean that it is something that is wrong that cannot be fixed,” she immediately added. (GA)
by George Alleyne