Students share best practices
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
Dozens of enthusiastic teenagers gathered at Iona High School in St Mary last week Tuesday to share their experiences of activism, good governance and best practices, as part of the parish's third annual students' council association forum.
During the conference, which aimed to sensitise representatives about the roles and functions of the local, regional and national bodies, students were encouraged to elect members to the council and enhance their advocacy skills.
Speaking after the event, which ran under the theme, 'Advocate Today, Preserve Tomorrow', senior director at the Ministry of Youth and Culture's (MYC) Youth and Adolescent Policy Division, Michele Small Bartley, hailed the forum as a success.
level of learning
"Today was good because you could see the level of learning and interaction taking place among the students. The National Secondary Students' Council forums are important because young people need to have a voice.
"At the school level, that means [council members] will actually sit on the school board to participate in the decision-making process, as it relates to their well-being" Small Bartley told The Gleaner.
Newly elected chair of the St Mary Students' Council Association, Sanna-Lee Maragh, a grade-10 student at Marymount High School, agreed.
"What's happening today is important because the councils can help schools and students improve and solve any problems they are having.
"I'm going to work very hard with the council representatives and, in due time, you will see change in a positive way. But, for, now my goal is to focus on reducing violence among children in schools," she said.
Grade-seven student at Iona High, Renaldean Callum, who was chosen to be the association's secretary, said, "I feel very good to get this achievement because it's my first year in high school.
"I'm looking forward to the next 12 months, because the students' council will help to motivate people and bring more discipline in the school," added Callum.
From a long-term perspective, the MYC's local youth-empowerment officer, Omar Marston, believes the council plays a vital role in the development of tomorrow's leaders.
"I think students are the main stakeholders in a school and, therefore, their voices need to be heard. I'm confident the council representatives will do their best to preserve their rights and responsibilities.
"They are our future leaders, and so we have to protect them. We all want a bright future, but how can we have that if we don't prepare young people in the right way? This is what the forum is about, and we will continue to use it to prepare our students to become better leaders."
Small Bartley agreed and acknowledge the students will need plenty of support.
"I'm expecting these students to enact the things they have learned throughout the school year.
"Some of the councils are new, so we would have to work with them, from the ministry level, well to ensure their roles and responsibilities are understood," she said