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We are in this together … Pastor agrees that the Church should play a greater role in schools

Published:Saturday | February 27, 2016 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston

e need more church influence in the schools, not less. And we are not asking you to push your own denomination line; we are asking you to lift up the presence of God in all of our children."

The above statement was made by the Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites during the official opening of the Barbara E. Lee Hing Banana Ground Basic School in Manchester.

In a Thursday, January 28 story carried in The Gleaner, the minister reminisced on the days when it used to be the family, the school and the Church that were agents of socialisation.

"Now it is largely the school because fortunately, everybody goes to school in this country. I am pleading with people who are church members to bring holiness from the sanctuary and reinvest it in the temples of the holy spirit of the little children and the older children in the schools," was the charge he gave.

Family and Religion discussed the issue with Bishop Christopher Murray who pointed out that the church's involvement in the schools is one of the most critical areas.

THE CHRISTIAN AGENDA

Murray said a large number of families are affiliated with a church. He agreed that pushing the Christian agenda would prove beneficial as the main teaching of the Church is is to 'Love thy neighbour as thyself.'

"It also teaches self-control and accountability for one's actions. These values would be encouraged even more if the students had more church influence," he said.

According to Murray, many ministers of religion are guidance counsellors based in schools, and for him, it would be a good idea for the quota to be increased.

"More of us could avail ourselves to address and pray for the schools at their devotional exercises," he said.

When it comes on to the lack of discipline in schools, Murray was in agreement with the education minister.

According to him, this problem would be solved by more church influence as there are several factors that contribute to it.

"Therefore, a multidimensional approach is needed, which includes the community, the family, the media, the school and the Church.

One standard may be upheld at school, for example, but may be disregarded at home, it is not reinforced and may result in confusion for the child as to what is acceptable behaviour," he said.

Murray added: "Children may depart from the values and principles that they have learnt, whether in school or in the church setting. There are many cases where parents, the Church or the school have tried their best with children, but they still grow up, walk away from those good values and make terrible decisions. The bottom line is, 'you can lead the horse to the water, but you can't force him to drink'."

The solution according to Murray, is to teach them, talk with them, counsel them, and pray for them, "but ultimately, the rest is up to them. They are the ones who will have to decide the road that they want to take and how they want to get there. Hopefully, they learn from their mistakes and go back on the straight and narrow road," he said.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com