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Education Minister says controversial book went "beyond the realm of tolerance"
Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites, is questioning how the material in the Ministry's Health and Family Life Education curriculum got into the school system. He has also given more details on his reason for pulling the material.
On Friday, the Education Minister ordered that the material be withdrawn from all schools, rewritten, then re-distributed in order to prevent disruption of the Health and Family Life Education programme.
He said it’s not possible for him able to read every publication coming out of the Ministry, but this one should have been examined by a high level team.
“It worries me greatly because something as sensitive as this should have been vetted by the highest levels in the Ministry of Education. There is a very impressive team that puts the manual together but if you take it as a whole, it appears to be a good effort but that this could have been worked on for two years and issued a year ago surprises me and frankly worries me……”
He adds that the manual was pulled because it went beyond the realm of tolerance for alternative lifestyles:
“I’m encouraging tolerance and perhaps for adult persons but for young people this is conditioning , this is not tolerance and conditioning them towards alternate lifestyles is wrong” he said.
The curriculum was developed for Caribbean Schools under the auspices of UNICEF, UNFPA, National HIV Programme, National Family Planning Board, the Ministry of Health, Dispute Resolution Foundation and the National Council on Drug Abuse.
Meanwhile, Opposition Spokesman on Education Andrew Holness also agreed with the decision.
He thinks the schools in Jamaican society have an important role to play in the socialisation of the nation's children, and finding a balance between tolerance and endorsement is difficult.
But he argued that the opinions of the majority of parents should not be ignored. He said a previous edition of the manual was pulled due to similar concerns when he was in office, and he's puzzled how the issues arose again and said there needs to be tighter monitoring of the approval process of books that are introduced into the curriculum.
“It is not something that Ministers would want to do, to get too involved in the academic material for books, but the Minister has an obligation that whatever is taught is in keeping with the moral standards and expectation of parents”
And Past President of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship Shirley Richards, also agrees with the decision to remove the manual.
She believes that the material was too advanced for the lower school, and robs children of their childhood.