President of the Barbados Youth Development Council Roshanna Trim has called for tolerance and inclusion to be an integral part of education reform.
Trim made the call yesterday in a speech to a multi-faith service to mark the observance of World Youth Day, which was observed under the theme Transforming Education.
“It is important to recognise that education involves more than academics, and that the idea of unity without uniformity, and diversity without fragmentation must become inculcated in the very way that we teach”.
Trim declared: “I open a call for schools to begin to host multi-faith services so that persons who are not of Christian religion no longer have to stand outside during assembly.
“I ask that as we seek to educate 21st century young people, and as we move to creating global citizens, that we encourage knowledge sharing from all religions.”
According to Trim, it is also important that young people are taught to be more open-minded
“As young people travel across the world they will undoubtedly explore new cultures and within it, religious beliefs.
“As such, there is no better place than home to learn about these.
“In a world where often xenophobia, bigotry and other forms of discrimination exist it is important that we show our young people the truth that there is nothing to be afraid of as we explore the world; that a difference in belief, or a difference in faith, does not automatically make you an enemy.”
The increase in gun violence is among the main concerns of the BYDC this year, particularly as many of the victims are young males between the ages of 16-24.
“When we speak about unity and diversity it is important that we recognise that within the idea of tolerance, anger management and learning how to resolve conflict has become critical for one and all, Trim said.”
By Unted Nations estimates, there are 1.8 billion young people ages 10-24 globally, with close to 90 per cent of them living in developing countries.
UN Resident Coordinator Didier Trebucq, told the gathering it is important that young people receive an inclusive and equitable quality education.
But he acknowledged that challenges remain with providing access to education for girls and women, rural or indigenous youth and people living with disabilities.
“We cannot afford for this to continue,” he said. ‘Leaving no one behind’ must be our driver as we consider how transforming education can propel national development.”
Last September, the UN Secretary General launched the 2030 United Nations Youth Strategy.
It focuses on five priority areas: youth engagement, participation and advocacy; education and health care; economic empowerment through decent work; human rights; peace and resilience building.
Trebucq noted that under the third priority the UN has made commitments in Barbados to advocate for quality education, to promote non-formal education, and support sexual and reproductive health rights, among others.
But the UN diplomat said: “I must say that Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean have made significant gains in the advancement of education for all.
“I wish to commend the Government for recognizing that education is a key driver of social mobility, equality and national development.
“By ensuring equity in the delivery of education, taking the special needs of students into account, providing HIV/AIDS education in schools and developing a workforce that is adaptable to a rapidly-changing environment, then acceleration of progress across all Sustainable Development Goals is possible.”
He added that the preparation of the National Youth Policy of Barbados, under the leadership of the Ministry of Youth and Community Development, is noteworthy as it gives a voice to the youth in shaping a national direction.
He also pointed to the Generation Unlimited project, another initiative of UNICEF supported by the EU among others, in cooperation with Government and multiple partners, which seeks to ensure that young people acquire the right skills for employment and decent work, and also promotes girls’ empowerment.