Wed | Jan 20, 2021

Jamaica faces a crisis of values - Archbishop Gregory bats for character-formation programmes in schools

Published:Monday | January 13, 2020 | 12:07 AM
Archbishop Howard Gregory
Archbishop Howard Gregory

Calling attention to what he termed a crisis of values in Jamaica, Archbishop of the West Indies Reverend Howard K. Gregory is suggesting that a mandatory programme focusing on character formation be introduced in Jamaican schools.

“It is self-evident that the society is in dire need of structured programmes of character formation in our schools at this time,” the clergyman insisted.

In his presentation at the Annual Archbishop Samuel Carter Lecture, held last Wednesday at Campion College as part of the school’s Founders’ Day discourse, Gregory argued that respective administrations failed to drive the process of recovery and reformulation of values. He said the country’s political process had become too self-serving and divisive for generating consensus on the issue.

“I shall argue, also, that our current moral context and the political culture do not offer much hope for the development of a comprehensive programme of character formation for our schools,” said Gregory, who is also Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Gregory said that it was therefore imperative for the Church to offer leadership in this undertaking through its involvement in education.

He also acknowledged that the education ministry had introduced the Health and Family Life Education from the early-childhood level to high schools. However, he said that at present, there was no “State mandated programme that covers the scope of character formation”.

“The offerings which have come from the Ministry of Education have focused on elements which may be considered a part of character formation, such as conflict management, human sexuality, and family life,” he said, noting that a more comprehensive programme dealing with character formation was still lacking.

The senior man of the cloth observed that “with the politicisation of education in recent years by focusing on auxiliary fees, the governments have tended to make out Church and trust schools, which constitute the top layer of the performing secondary schools, as elitist”. However, he said, over the years, administrations have failed to acknowledge “what makes these schools leading achievers, and which are some of the very things that characterise faith-based education and character and integrity formation, as we have seen”.