Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw has encouraged students to play a role in being their brother’s keeper, as she reflected on Wednesday’s funeral for slain 16-year-old Frederick Smith student Temario Holder.
Bradshaw said students who were on the right path should think about how they can help to pull back peers who are showing signs that they were going off-track.
She said: “I grew up hearing about being my brother’s keeper, and in some cases, being my sister’s keeper.
“And to this day I still firmly believe that we are all here to look out for each other.
“It is not just about coming to school and doing well.
“But along the way, you have to look to the side and you have to see which students don’t have something to eat, which students are falling behind, and you as students have a major role to play.
“Nobody can tell me that you all are not perceptive about what is happening in your classrooms, on the play ground, as you are catching the bus, as you are coming to and from school.
“You know as well as students, where the problems are, and it is up to you as students to be able to, yes, snitch so that we can save lives as well.”
The Education Minister made the remarks as she delivered the feature address at the Speech Day and Prize-Giving of the Christ Church Foundation School (CCFS), her alma mater.
She told the audience that at Holder’s funeral she witnessed parents, teachers, Ministry of Education officials, principals of other schools, union representatives and other stakeholders come together as a family.
The Minister said: “I saw teachers consoling students. I saw students consoling teachers.
“I saw parents being consoled by their children, and children consoling their children.
“I saw guidance counsellors from the Ministry and all the support personnel reassuring and offering support to our students and the teaching staff and all those who were overcome by emotion at the loss of the young man.
“I listened as the school song for the school was rendered by teachers and students as they join in harmony to sing the song for one last occasion before the body of young Temario was laid to rest.
“I also reflected on the students that I saw walking up the aisle of the church with a coffin.
“I said to myself, these students should not have to do this.
“They were emotional, they were shaken and they were the friends of the deceased and they were hurting at what had transpired.”
Bradshaw said she reflected on the fact that Temario’s mother and father and entire family were shedding tears of sadness and would not have the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of their loved one.
She continued: “I take you back to Wednesday because I want you to realise that it should not take tragedy to bring all of these stakeholders together.
“I take you back to Wednesday because it brought home for me the fact that absence of family is what is at the root of the problems confronting our society.
“And when we speak of family, my notion of family is one that doesn’t just turn up when things go bad, but family has to be that we are together both in good and bad times.
“Families [are] supposed to know the strengths and weaknesses of each other.
Minister Bradshaw also urged teachers to reflect on how they too could assist in pulling back students who seem to be falling behind to get back on the right path.
She suggested that teachers work closely with parents and guardians to find solutions.
She said: “Let us not shout at parents, and parents let us not shout at teachers.
“Let us find ways to listen and to educate each other. A parent who may not be a good parent may be able to tell you as a teacher a little bit of insight into their child.
“And equally as a teacher, you may also be able to observe certain things that are happening in the school environment to be able to help to shape and to mould and to educate that child in the classroom.”
The Education Minister commended Foundation for its achievements over the past school year she told the students who were awarded for achieving excellence in academics and extracurricular activities that regardless of their strengths and abilities there was a place in society and the world for all of them.