In order to foster an environment that dissuades children from becoming involved in drug and alcohol abuse,
the Ministry of Education yesterday brought the curtains down on a two-day Drug Prevention Education training programme.
The forum, which was held in collaboration with the Phoenix Recovery Project among other partners, saw the attendance of a number of Georgetown-based teachers and welfare officers who are expected to be the agents for change.
Speaking at the closing ceremony yesterday, Planning Officer of the Education Ministry, Ms Evelyn Hamilton, expressed her belief that “all of these persons have come together because they feel that this is a very important activity and that it underpins all that we are trying to do in education.”
Speaking of a new Strategic Plan that has been crafted by the Ministry that will shortly be unveiled, Hamilton noted that several countrywide consultations were held where persons were asked “What is it that you want from education? What is it that you want to happen particularly with children; because of course education goes beyond children.” And according to Hamilton, the recurring response forthcoming was that people wanted their children to perform better in school.
Moreover, the Ministry took matters into consideration when the Strategic Plan was in the making.
“The main core of this plan was for these children to do better, but how do they do better? The natural thing to you as educators was to have a better curriculum…to have better trained teachers; to give them more books and better physical facilities and so on and then it is all going to come together.” But according to Hamilton, even with such measures in place, things don’t always work out as expected.
She therefore noted that the training programme over the past few days is in fact an indication that there are vast challenges facing the education system; not only in Guyana, but across the world. But Hamilton confessed yesterday that “we are not as effective in giving you the tools to deal with those challenges…This is one
way in which we hope to remedy that deficiency that has happened in the past,” said Hamilton of the training programme.
“I think that it is very clear to the Education Ministry now that it cannot focus on part of a child…everything has to come together and if its health is not good it is not going to perform well, if it is living in a home where it is being abused either physically, sexually or whatever, it is not going to do well and it’s because of all of those situations it is then trying to cope by using drugs and by using alcohol…”
And according to Hamilton, since Government does not have sufficient funds to have enough counsellors to cater to the situations in the school system, the already overburdened teachers are instead saddled with such tasks.
“They have to be parents, counsellors…very often the very first person outside of the family, and even before the family, who recognises that something is wrong with a child is probably a teacher who is seeing that child day in and day out,” Hamilton theorised.
And this she hypothesised is at the core of what is done within the Ministry’s Health and Family Life Education.
“I don’t always think that we have done this as well as we should, and I suspect that one of the reasons that we have not done this as well as we should, is maybe, because we are not collaborating as much as we should with other agencies,” said Hamilton as she lauded the move to host the Drug Prevention Education training programme.
According to Ms Dionne Browne of the Education Ministry’s School Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS Unit, while the training programme is the first in a series targeting teachers in Georgetown, efforts will shortly be engaged to reach teachers Region-wide in a similar way.
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