Mon | Apr 23, 2018

Home economics and more than sifting flour and baking cakes

Published:Sunday | April 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Mention home economics and images of girls sifting flour, kneading dough, and trying their hand at some new dish immediately come to mind. Yet home econ is much wider than learning how to cook well. It is the field of study that deals with the economics and management of the home and the community.

In an effort to help broaden the understanding of home economics, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information has sponsored 150 local teachers from the high schools at which home economics is offered for this year's biennial meeting of the Caribbean Association of Home Economists (CAHE), which will be held in Jamaica.

This is a regional professional, non-governmental organisation affiliated with the International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE). Among the members of the organisation are home economics educators and teachers, human ecologists, family and consumer scientists, nutritionists and dietitians, food service professionals, family life educators, social workers, hotel and hospitality services professionals, health educators and administrators, as well as other allied professionals.

The mission of CAHE is to improve the quality of life for individuals and families within the Caribbean region and to encourage continual professional growth in members of the home economics profession in the Caribbean. One way of achieving this goal is through the biennial regional conferences held rotationally in the different island states.

They address the relationship among individuals, families, and communities, and the environment in which they live. Home economics content is drawn from multiple disciplines and has the potential to influence all sectors of society by intervening and transforming political, social, cultural, ecological, economic, and technological systems at global levels.


Lifelong learning


Home economists are concerned with the empowerment and the well-being of individuals, families, and communities, and with facilitating the development of attributes for lifelong learning for paid, unpaid, and voluntary work and living situations. These professionals must, therefore, be at the top of their game, equipped to carry out these functions.

This year's 22nd staging of the conference, and for the second time in Jamaica, will take place under the theme "Home Economics: Future-proofing families for 21st century living."

Throughout history, families have undergone various changes as societies have evolved. Today, however, they must confront new and more radical changes that test their strength and resilience. In the Caribbean, it is critical that home economics professionals become aware of these changes so that they can attend to the immediate and emerging needs of families.

To help achieve this, the Caribbean Association of Home Economists Inc seeks to draw on knowledge from a variety of social sectors to critically engage the following questions: how do we create appropriate structures to safeguard Caribbean families against the shocks of radical social change? How do we develop the characteristics and attributes to equip family members to face those challenges that are on the horizon? How do we foster in our families the commitment to preparing future generations?

Conference participants in plenary sessions will address the issues of future-proofing the family and the profession. The participants will participate in research presentations, seminars, and workshops. Workshops will be held at the William Knibb Memorial and Spot Valley High Schools. A cultural night activity will be held at Mount Alvernia High.

A highlight of the conference this year is a community engagement activity at Cornwall College. Male students from the upper levels in more than five high schools in and around Montego Bay have been invited to engage with the minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Floyd Green, to share in understanding how they can prepare to make a difference in the lives of the families in their future.

Over 300 participants have so far registered for the conference. They are from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, the USA, The US Virgin Islands, and Australia.