'ISCF dying in schools'
The Inter-School Christian Fellowship (ISCF) clubs, which once existed in abundance in schools, are now dying a slow and painful death due to a decrease in participation from both teachers and students.
Its demise is slow and painful, to the detriment of students who no longer seem to be Christ-centred or interested in activities in either church or school. Instead, other unsuitable messages are being fed to them on a silver platter which they have no problem absorbing.
General secretary of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, Marcia McCausland-Wilson, has suggested that the Church places a representative in schools to set up and monitor ISCF clubs to ensure its presence and sustainability, noting that the Church helps to make more rounded individuals.
"When I went to school, we had what was called the ISCF, but when I look around in the high schools now, it's dying primarily because we don't have a teacher who is responsible for that group anymore. With their responsibilities as teachers, they are not able to hold down a club and, as such, the ISCF is dying," McCausland-Wilson lamented as she addressed the first in the series of Gleaner Family and Religion Editors' Forum held last Thursday at the newspaper's North Street offices.
In arguing the relevance of the presence of the Church in schools, Reverend Gary Harriott, general secretary of the Jamaica Council Churches, alluded to a study conducted by the health ministry which revealed that young people who had a faith base and are influenced by religion were less likely to fall prey to some of the social challenges that many young people get caught up with.
CREATING ROUNDED CITIZENS
"If we are able to help persons understand that if children are influenced by the Church, you are more likely to have more rounded citizens in this country. However, we have challenges because other messages are coming from elsewhere, and sometimes they come in more enticing ways and more forcefully than how the Church shares its message and as a result, many persons young and old gravitate to that kind of message," Harriott said.
Psychologist Dr Patrece Charles, executive director of the National Parenting Support Commission, said the Church needs to become relevant not only to members, but to everyone.
"I've seen children and families that don't have any faith base at all and so this is where I can say it's truly relevant. And so, if you have no one to turn to in your time of need, that's where we find a lot of suicide and hopelessness and thoughts of committing crime,"said Charles.