School personnel and teachers must not be smokers — Thwaites

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Observer staff reporter

Saturday, July 20, 2013

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Education Minister Ronald Thwaites says that with the ban on smoking in public spaces, including in and around educational institutions, teachers and other persons working in schools should lead by example to uphold the law.

"I realise how addictive tobacco is, and I realise the power of the spurious argument about personal liberty that often is trotted out in this regard, but school personnel and teachers must not be smokers. Otherwise, the children are going to see you, so why shouldn't they do it? It can't work. We don't want to institute a rule. We want to exalt each other as members of a common enterprise to say, please don't do this...," he said.

Thwaites was speaking this week at the annual back-to-school conference at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, hosted by the Ministry of Education Region 5 office.

The education minister said that a similar attitude should be adopted in the consumption of alcohol as well as gambling, which are "pervasive" in some urban schools.

He decried the lack of clarity in the society's values and attitudes, which are serving as "contrary signals" to children.

"You know one of the reasons why values and attitudes (haven't) really taken on in Jamaica -- that campaign -- because we don't know what values and attitudes we really believe in."

"This time the education system needs to be clear about what values and attitudes (we believe in). We are saying to you and inviting your strong support that smoking, gambling, drinking, the playing of [in]appropriate music at school functions, the observation of a dress code are non-negotiable. They are standard-setting for our young people; they must be put forward resolutely, rigorously and hopefully joyously. That is the truth, and they must apply, with great respect to teachers, as well as students, as well as ministers," he told the audience.

Thwaites said that a bulletin will be distributed in schools to indicate that any kind of smoking is off limit in schools and their "curtilage".

He also urged the school officials present at the conference not to tolerate any untoward behaviour among students in the coming academic year.

"Navigate the torturous code of regulations and ensure that when infractions take place, at whatever level, they must be carried to the end. One of the things we have to do... is to think again how we are going to impose discipline by regulations in our school communities in ways that do not take us back to the brutality of the former years, but at the same time are convincing antidote to the anti-social trends of our present time," said Thwaites.




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