‘Do not diminish role of the Church in schools’

THE Association of Christian Communicators and Media (ACCM) has expressed concern about a statement by Education Minister Fayval Williams regarding the possible implementation of protocols for devotions in public schools.

“Any such move must take into account the fact that the public school system, for the most part, was established on moral and legal foundation grounded in the Christian faith,” said the young association in a news release.

“… It is on this solid foundation that majority of the traditional institutions of learning were built,” said the ACCM in a news release Friday.

The minister’s statement followed Wednesday’s incident at Oberlin High School in rural St Andrew where a number of students fell following prayers at devotion.

According to the ACCM, a Christian world view provides sound moral footing for students, especially at this time when Jamaicans have been witnessing worrying levels of anger, strife, physical and even fatal altercations within the student population, and even against teachers.

“The extraordinary high rates of crime and violence in the wider society is clearly spilling onto school compounds and the nation is becoming a dangerous place for all,” warned the association.

Jamaica, it added, has had the advantage of watching other countries dismantle the moral and Christian floorboards and then observing the negative impacts on children and families.

“The ACCM firmly asserts that the role of the Church as moral and spiritual guide, godly presence and peacekeeper must not be dismantled, diminished or dismissed. Despite our penchant for violence and disorder, Jamaicans, at the heart, are a God-fearing and peace-loving people, and the Church must be at the forefront of this battle for the soul of our country.

“It is to our credit that culturally we remain committed to the continuation of Christian worship in our educational institutions. And while there may be need to bring some amount of order to this, it must be in the direction of affirming the greater need for devotion and ensuring that worship remains a fixed item on the curriculum,” said the group.

It said the importance of worship in the life of a child is well documented in the nation’s constitution, and that The Children (Guardianship and Custody) Act sets out the principles on how questions relating to custody, upbringing, etc, of children are to be decided. Statute as well as common law, it added, recognise the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration.

Said the association: “The law in Jamaica is that the welfare of the child is not measured by money or physical comfort only. The court has held that the word ‘welfare’ must be taken in its widest sense. It includes the moral and religious welfare of the child which must be considered as well as physical well-being.

“This is our cultural identity shored up by our law. Let’s take pride in it, defend it, argue for it, and let other nations eventually envy us for it.”

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