Barbados is in need of more faith-based schools and religious persons, going into schools to minister to children.
Minister of People Empowerment Cynthia Forde, who made the observation, said she was shaken up, after she recently visited a school and noticed that though the bell rang to signal the start of the day’s proceedings, there was no type of assembly.
The Minister said it hurt her heart, because she was one who boasted that Barbadian schools still host morning assembly, to encourage children to pray and give God thanks.
“Whether it be house prayers, male prayers, female prayers, I don’t care what kind of prayers there should have been, there was none, as far as I saw,” she said.
“I left so brokenhearted. I felt as though the partner I don’t have had left me. It was that bad of a feeling. Therefore, we need for those institutions, to be again working with our schools and our communities, to make that tremendous difference.
Forde is encouraging faith-based organizations and churches to get into schools and colleges.
“Go to the Polytechnic, go up to the Barbados Community College, go to the continuing education classes. Go down to the University [of the West Indies] as well, because I am not satisfied that enough of our people on whom we spend millions of dollars every year, fully understand their roles in giving back to society,” she said.
“Go into the university and offer some kind of programme if there is none,. We need for our people at that transitioning stage, from the studying to the workplace, to have good discipline, character, and to go forward.”
The Minister spoke about the need for more children to be exposed to strong, positive religious values, and morals, taught by faith-based institutions, as she delivered the feature address to culminate International Men’s Day activities at the Ebenezer Revival Centre, Medford Road, No 1, White Hall, St Michael.
Meanwhile, Minister Forde said she has observed that in recent years, more men have been stepping up to the plate and making the effort to play an active role of their children’s lives.
She said more men have been attending Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meetings, and heading groups in communities, and at polyclinics, that work closely with the youth.
She noted that men need to be encouraged to continue along the path of leading by example, in an effort to help shape society.
“We need to spur our men onward and help to support them. When they falter, give the criticism, but praise them and push them forward, because we need our men to be alongside of our women,” Forde said.
The Minister also spoke briefly on the issue of child maintenance, and visitation rights for men.
She said child maintenance battles in the courts are ridiculous, and said men should not be denied the right to see their children.
“The father wants the child to see it, let the child father see the child. It is the man’s child. Unless you have done DNA that says it is not, let the man have access to the child, even if it has to be in a controlled environment,” Forde said.
Delivering the sermon during the service, which was attended by members of various men’s groups, Superintendent Sherwin Agard, also spoke to the importance of faith-based institutions playing an integral role in schools.
“What do we expect from our children when they are watching movies where every minute somebody is shooting somebody?” he asked.
“If we are going to see change in society, we need to return to solid foundations of faith, we need to return to mentorships of faith.” (AH)