Vide Bouteille Primary School Holds Forum
THE staff of the Vide Bouteille Primary School have gone one step further in placing the well-being of students as a top priority by hosting a no holds barred analysis and educational forum for both students and parents.
After receiving an influx of concerning complaints from a number of students from the school which currently accommodates 464 children, teachers decided to pull out the big guns and seek help from the professionals to deal with the growing issue.
This was when the idea of a parent/teacher forum with a difference was born.
Hundreds of parents and guardians turned up on the day at the school’s compound to hear the vital findings and advice coming from the forum.
Grade five teacher, Yvette Miller-Samuel who was the brainchild behind for the forum which was themed “Responding to our children’s needs– a holistic approach to our education,” said the school’s approach has always been focused on the development of the whole child. However, the recent complaints have been alarming.
With the nature of some of these complaints, she said: “No, we cannot remain silent. We have to do something and so I thought why not have a parents forum?”
Miller-Samuel said the process will remain be ongoing but the forum was a way to get the ball rolling on the subject matter.
In attendance aside from the parents and teachers were Permanent Secretary for Social Transformation Juliana Alfred, Dr. Julie Xavier, Pastor D. Morian and former Chief Education Officer Fortuna Anthony-Husbands.
Anthony-Husbands spent one whole day with the students speaking to them in a personal, confidential and trusting setting and she said the findings were heart wrenching.
Some of the complaints included sexual, verbal and physical abuse at home, poverty and thoughts of suicide from children ranging from grades two to six.
The former Chief Education Officer also took parents to task asking them whether they really understand their roles as parents.
According to Anthony-Husbands, one of the biggest factors contributing to this issue was that parents allowed their anger and frustration to block them from realizing that there was help at hand.
Urging parents to take heed of her words, she said: “Put your pride aside and go for help to support your family”.
A sad but common complaint made by the children, she said, was that parents failed to speak to them and instead, spoke at them especially in the form of shouting. She also said parents don’t communicate with their children, don’t listen to them and in turn, beat them for every wrongdoing.
“The only word they seem to understand is punishment…punishment is not discipline”, Anthony-Husbands said, adding that this was the kind of behaviour that would only lead to future generations of angry adults.
“Children will only model what they know”, she advised.
Anthony-Husbands said it was high time that parents evaluated themselves and stopped blaming the youth for mimicking the actions that they see at home and on television.
During the forum, parents were given the opportunity to voice their concerns on a range of topics. One of them included the ill treatment of students by teachers themselves.
One parent spoke from experience of children leaving broken and abusive homes only to be faced with physically and verbally abusive teachers at the very school where they should be able to seek solace.
She said some of the teachers don’t even try to understand the underlying problems of the child.
To this statement, Anthony-Husbands responded by agreeing with the concerned parent. She said the necessary steps went both ways and that teachers needed to be able to spot the red flags that indicate whether a child is hungry and underfed or was being abused at home.
“Teachers”, she said, “need to change the way they deal with children”.
It was for this very reason, according to Anthony-Husbands, that a number of schools across the island had opted to ban the use of corporal punishment as children needed to be able to feel comfortable enough to approach teachers and confide in them about their problems.
After the forum, the school’s principal Elizabeth Prudent told The VOICE that the message that the school was trying to drive home to especially the students was that such change could save their lives and possibly send them down a more positive path in life.
Prudent said: “We are trying to reach out to our children in a very positive and fundamental way so that we can give them that sense of belonging and know that they are worth it, they are happy and that they are special. In that case, when they come to school they can function because the support will be there at the school and at home.”