Barbados creates education history

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, October 27, 2006 – Barbados has made history as the first Caribbean country to launch the Life Education Centre (LEC), a mobile classroom outfitted with electronic devices aimed at teaching primary school children how to make healthy choices and avoid substance abuse.

The LEC was launched in the main conference room of the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports, by the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) to complement its drug awareness thrust.

Speaking at the launch of the LEC, Minister of Education, Anthony Wood, lauded the NCSA for the initiative, adding that his Ministry and that department could work together to ensure that children lead healthier lives.

“This particular initiative should be seen as a collaborative one with the healthy lifestyle campaign that the Ministry of Education will be looking to launch in a formal way, because we at the Ministry are somewhat concerned about the lifestyles which are being led by persons within the school system.  We are concerned that not enough attention is being paid to diet and nutrition…physical activity and involvement in sports,” he said.

Wood added that his Ministry embraced the efforts by the NCSA to use the LEC as a learning tool, since a survey conducted by his Ministry indicated that 48.8 percent of Barbadian youth used alcohol, 11.1 percent used marijuana, 10.7 percent used cigarettes, 10.7 percent used inhalants, 3.7 percent used other drugs and 1.9 percent used cocaine.

He urged the NCSA to engage in research surveys in order to assess the impact of the LEC’s way of teaching on children’s understanding of health-related issues.

Also speaking at the launch was the acting Attorney General Rawle Eastmond.  He also lauded the NCSA for bringing the LEC to Barbados, noting that it would further enhance its mandate to “implement measures to control substance abuse, prevent the proliferation of illegal narcotic drugs, devise and undertake promotion programmes, projects and research focusing on prevention, elimination or control of substance abuse”.

Minister Eastmond also stated that the NCSA would continue to be innovative and creative in the development of educational and sensitisation programmes, which would influence and make long lasting and positive impressions on our youth. 

“…Investing now in the Life Education programme for our young children will result in significant benefits to this society,” he opined.

The LEC concept incorporates topics such as how to handle peer pressure, anger management, self esteem building and refusal skills, along with drug education programmes.  (BGIS)