Saturday, April 13, 2024

THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: When we are our brethren’s keeper

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MY FIRST REACTION was to say, get the children into a school. It was based on nothing more than my narrow outlook shaped by the traditions of society.

But as time progressed, something greater than a family on the sidelines versus the establishment in the form of the Child Care Board (CCB) began to emerge – at least to me.

It was the case of Ijui Jah (Charles Lashley) and Isartes Ibre (Kim Jackman) whose children were not being educated within the strict dictates of the law and society. As a result, the two were charged for not registering their 12-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter for school in keeping with the requirements of the law.

In spite of offers to accommodate the children in public schools, the parents felt that type of school setting exposed the innocent children to a contaminated system not in keeping with their religion. As Lashley explained it, they did not want the children educated for a system but for self-reliance.

Unaware

From 2013 the parties had been clashing over the education of the children without the public being aware.

However, once the two were charged, it attracted a lot of attention in the conventional and new media. The moment it hit the Internet, in true social media style, instant opinions were spouted from every corner without much solutions being found among them. There were concerns that the children lacked the proper socialisation that would equip them for life later as adults.

Round 2 came when the CCB applied to make the children wards of the state which would give the agency control over the two, and thus get them educated in accordance with the steps laid out in the laws. However, there was something about this action that did not sit well with the public.

In a sterling example of the biblical principle of being their brother’s keeper, a number of civic-minded residents offered to school the children in accordance with the law that would leave the youngsters in the care and custody of their parents.

The CCB takes credit for bringing about the change in approach by the parents, and that the resulting actions came because it intervened with court action. I will grant the board the assertion that without it, none of this would have occurred.

However, there is a bigger picture to be seen and greater credit to be assigned from the entire saga. The spin-off was that a tutor, Michaelin Dulal, stepped forward to give the two children free private lessons three times a week. Let’s hear it for Dulal’s generous offer.

Secondly, The African Heritage Foundation, which put the parents in contact with Dulal, is set to launch its home-directed learning initiative. It will provide the bridge for parents and the tutors who would visit homes to teach the children.

That will not only be of benefit to the parents who are wrestling with having their children remain in a controlled environment, but those whose children’s behaviour is the problem within the school compound.

That must come with a measure of relief for those parents who did not know where to turn when their children were expelled from school. This solution allows the Ministry of Education to redirect some of the problem students to the foundation.

The father had claimed ignorance of the Education Act when the matter first started, but by the end had struck a more conciliatory note. There were no hard feelings on his part towards the CCB as he wanted what all parents desired for their children – the best education for them.

His resistance to having the system foist its way on him and the subsequent highlighting of the matter served to rally a section of society into action. It shows what can be achieved when instead of reacting to a situation with the superficial, you use it as an example of how to act.

• Antoinette Connell is a News Editor. Email antoinetteconnell@nationnews.com.

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