The recent fatal stabbing incident at the Happy Hill Secondary School (HHSS), coupled with the failed November 24 Referendum, shows that there is a need for the return of civic education to the school curriculum.
That’s according to General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Glen Noel, who told reporters at a recent NDC press conference, that civic education is something that an NDC administration will give “priority” to once back in office.
Noel said that in past years, “civics was a general subject that covered a wide area of interest at the primary school level…and persons were more aware and more patriotic”.
However, he noted that with the emergence of other subjects “relating to life itself, including political sciences, sociology and psychology (among others), we have seen the disappearance of that (civics).”
He expressed the NDC’s view that there is an “urgent need to bring something like that back”.
“…We (NDC) think that we need to review the curriculum to see what it is we can do to help develop the whole individual in this new changing and emerging world”, he said.
“When we witness the recent stabbing death incident at the school level, it demonstrates the greater need for civic education”, he added.
Noel stressed that “people have various needs that sometimes that are not met by the academic subjects directly”.
“We need to get more counselors at the school level, we need to get people to teach tolerance, leadership skills (and) a number of things that would help to develop the whole person”, he said.
The senior executive member of Congress pointed out that in order to succeed with the education system “you really need the school, community, church and family to work hand in hand”.
“We have to make attempts to bring all of them together so that we can develop the whole individual not just the academics…people need to understand their civic responsibility, concern for community, your fellowman and country and to (also) take pride in the nation…”he remarked.
Noel felt that “the best way to start, really, is in the schools (with) families and communities”.
“So what we want to encourage is to begin at the primary school level, where you could focus on people understanding and appreciating institutions in society, the laws, regulations, taking pride in the national anthem, the pledge and just having information generally about the country”, he said.
Additionally, Noel said the whole “issue of life skills has become so important now in the education process (and) this is something that will be given priority” since “we recognise that people need a little bit more than academics in building the whole individual”.
He also suggested that the school’s curriculum needed to change in order to make young people more aware of constitutional matters.
“…The issue of Constitutional reform and people being aware of the Constitution and their civic duties is so important that it is something that we will endeavour to get into the school curriculum”.
According to Noel, the NDC contributed to the Referendum process by conducting “over 30 community forums in15 constituencies across the island (and) collaborated with (a team of), lawyers who went out in to communities to explain the seven bills.”
The main opposing party also had “250 monitors placed at the various polling booths to participate in the Referendum process on November 24.”
Noel said that Congress was highly commended by the Parliamentary Elections Office for its work.