Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Ministry bowing under pressure?

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2016 | 1:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

It is surprising that Minister Thwaites has seen it fit to meet with JFLAG to discuss training of guidance counsellors. Based on my knowledge, guidance counsellors go through years of vigorous training in order to meet the various needs of children in the education system. Is the Ministry of Education now saying its guidance counsellors lack training or is the ministry succumbing to external pressure? Can we now expect the ministry to call in experts to deal with other issues such as suicidal tendencies or poor self-esteem among students?

The latest push to get certain information classified as "sex education" in schools seems like a coordinated effort by special interest groups. No empirical data has been provided by the newly-installed president of Guidance Counsellors Association to back claims of bias against a particular group of students. The fact that some students have come to the president to complain does not mean that there is a widespread abuse of authority or lack of sensitivity by guidance counsellors in our schools. Rather this could be a renewed push to impact the school curriculum. The attempt to put what was deemed inappropriate manuals in children's home by Jamaicans for Justice was soundly rejected by the Jamaican people, hence, a new, more subtle approach is now being tried. By the way, we are still waiting on an update on the investigation of this matter by the Ministry of Youth.

We need to be reminded that the age of consent in Jamaica is 16 and based on the nature of the reports which come to the guidance counsellors, they are expected to pass on this information to the relevant government agency. It cannot be that some acts are deemed "more equal" than others so they require special intervention rather than the already established protocols and guidelines.

The hardworking minister of education and by extension the ministry should not be swayed by political correctness or external groups. We ask the president of the Guidance Counsellors Association to produce the evidence of bias being exhibited by Christian Guidance Counsellors. Without the evidence, statements questioning the professionalism of our guidance counsellors seem premature.

The ministry of education must be aware that Jamaican parents will not sit idly by while an attempt is made to formalise the sexual grooming of our children in the nation's schools.

Marsha Thomas