The absence of religious teaching in Barbados’ education programme may be the reason for deviant behaviour among young people today, but educators must not appeal to such moral lessons only in times of trouble, says pastor and teacher Lennox Boyce.
In Boyce’s view, religious teaching carries a strong association with moral values and deserves being integrated with formal academic and vocational education to produce the type of citizen the Barbadian society desires.
“Education is not just a mental journey but also a moral one. Persons without moral education will be more likely to act selfishly, more likely to disregard the consequences of their actions on others and the general welfare of society, more likely to disregard the importance of teamwork, sympathy, empathy and respect for the welfare of others,” Boyce, a pastor at the Silver Sands Church of God, told fellow members of the Coleridge and Parry Secondary School alumni last night in the auditorium of that institution.
“It is also evident that a man who is educated in mind but not in morals may not be the most desirable employee. In a season where the average person will have a first degree or another equivalent qualification, more employers are requiring persons who are team players and who bring a sense of moral education and emotional maturity to the work environment,” he added.
Boyce, a teacher at Ellerslie Secondary School, spoke of Barbados being in an age of “girl fights” being prevalent on social media, growing disrespect for persons in authority, along with pornography and drug use infiltrating schools.
He suggested that “maybe we need a greater influence of the Church in education”.
The pastor noted that for many people, education and religion are seen as incompatible, and “there is an underlying notion inside liberal education circles that religious belief is backwards and contrary to enlightenment”.
“The challenge comes, however, when an epidemic like AIDS begins to wreak havoc on our labour force and the comments usually are that the Church is not doing enough; or when there is increased juvenile crime or youth suicide we hear that the Church needs to play a greater part,” he pointed out.
Boyce said that the Church should not be ridiculed for holding on to traditional values and only thought of as being useful and helpful in times of crisis or when it seems convenient.
The pastor asserted that while churches need to respond when a crisis arises, the Church should be allowed to “share values-based education with students by being involved, even if only at the level of consultancy, in the construction of syllabi that allow for moral education”.
“Not only should children know numbers and colours and have problem-solving skills, but they should also have conflict resolution skills and a moral base that allows them to work together and make decisions based on what is right and good,” he asserted.
Therefore, Boyce said, “partnerships are important in the education of the masses and I am of the opinion that both the Church and State have a pivotal role in ensuring that this happens”.