Christians warn of protocols for school devotions

The Association of Christian Communicators and Media (ACCM) has warned the Ministry of Education and Youth against imposing protocols for devotional sessions in public schools.

The warning comes after the ministry said on Wednesday it had launched an investigation to help determine protocols for devotional exercises at the school.

This followed the incident at Oberlin High School on Wednesday morning which forced the early closure of the West Rural St Andrew based establishment after a number of students began to ‘act abnormally’ during the devotional.

“As we encourage devotion to school, our principals have a responsibility to exercise caution about the content and the likely impact on students, as evidenced by the reaction of students at Oberlin High School.. .,” Education Minister Fayval Williams said in a statement late Wednesday. .

But, ACCM, with its own statement on Friday, said it took note of the education minister’s stated intention to move toward possible implementation of protocols for public school devotions.

“Any such decision must take into account that the public school system, for the most part, was established on moral and legal foundations, rooted in the Christian faith.

“It is on this solid foundation that the majority of traditional institutions of learning have been built,” the ACCM said.

The association argued that the Christian worldview provides a strong moral foundation for students, especially at a time when Jamaicans have witnessed disturbing levels of anger, conflict, physical and even fatal altercations within the student population, and even against teachers.

“The extraordinarily high rates of crime and violence in the wider society are clearly spilling over into school grounds and the nation is becoming a dangerous place for everyone. Jamaica has had the advantage of watching other countries dismantle moral and Christian floors and observing the negative impacts on children and families,” the ACCM noted.

He asserted that “the role of the Church as moral and spiritual guide, divine presence and guardian of peace must not be dismantled, diminished or dismissed”.

He added that “despite our penchant for violence and disorder, Jamaicans, at 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”.

The association further noted that “it is to our credit that we culturally remain committed to the pursuit of Christian worship in our educational institutions and, although some order, it must be in the sense of affirming the greatest need for devotion and ensuring that worship remains a fixed part of the program”.

He said the importance of worship in a child’s life is well documented in our Constitution.

“The Children (Guardianship and Custody) Act sets out principles on how matters relating to custody, upbringing, etc. children must be decided. The law, as well as the common law, recognizes the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration,” he said.

It should be noted that the Minister of Education did not speak of a ban on devotional exercises in schools across the country. Rather, she said the review was based on the fact that classes were halted early at Oberlin High after a series of events led to a disruption of normal activities.

The minister said the school administration reported that during the devotional exercise, a teacher leading the worship had an experience that included a long period of “speaking in tongues” which triggered a chain reaction of similar expression in some students.

“Some students would have been overwhelmed, with some falling to the ground. Other students and teachers tried to calm the situation, including praying with the affected children. Some were taken to the school nurse’s office,” Willaims said.

The Minister shared that after the devotions, the students were sent to class.

However, the heightened agitated environment led some students to express fear and others to exhibit what was described as “abnormal behavior”.

The administration said that given the circumstances, the school was closed at 10:00 a.m. and students were allowed to leave, except for those from PATH who were allowed to remain on the grounds to pick up their lunches.

About Rachel Gooch

Check Also

School administration and human resources management process

Added November 11, 2022 CI News By: Saima Hamid The administration establishes policies that guide …