BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Students in St. Kitts and Nevis will soon have an additional resource they can call on to assist IN their personal development and growth with the launch next month of the National School Chaplaincy Programme by the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs.
In preparation for the launch, the ministry hosted an Oct. 25 orientation and workshop for more than 40 pastors and church leaders from various faith-based institutions across the twin-island Federation participating in the national chaplaincy initiative.
Pastor Ericson Cumberbatch of the Wesleyan Holiness Church is part of the initiative. He currently serves as chaplain to the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, as well as the St. Kitts and Nevis Fire and Rescue Services. He officiates at their ceremonies, provides moral and spiritual guidance and counselling services in times of crises to the men and women of the agencies, as well as their families. The same services will be extended to the teachers and students under the chaplaincy programme.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs, Ron Dublin-Collins, noted that the motivation for the programme came from a desire to offer a “Christian response” to societal challenges, particularly antisocial activities by young people.
“This initiative is a national initiative,” Dublin-Collins said, while acknowledging that some pastors are already working with various schools in an informal capacity. “This seeks to formalize and use a more strategic approach in bringing the church into the school. Of course, there are [guidelines] under which we will actually be working, but the initiative is to support the emotional well-being, first and foremost, of our students and the entire school community through the provision of pastoral care services.”
Education officials including Deputy Chief Education Officer, Debbie Isaac; Deputy Principal of the Cayon High School, Andrea James-Wilson; and Guidance Counsellor, Dawn James participated in the workshop.
Topics included: The Family: the Pathway to Building Stronger Communities; Basic Skills in Chaplaincy Ministry; Issues Facing our Youth; the School Chaplain as an Agent of Change, and Introduction to Ministry of School Chaplaincy.
Participants also looked at best practices from existing programmes being informally implemented in schools by pastors and considered how they can be tweaked, as well as adapted across various schools in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“This should not be a burden for the schools, but a help for the schools,” Permanent Secretary Dublin-Collins stated. “It is a ministry that offers the school support so that we can have a better product,” referring to the holistic development of the student upon graduation.
While most people measure schools success by positive examination results, Dublin-Collins said that having 11 and 12 subject passes is not the objective of the programme.
“We are getting that already, but [we want] students who are better prepared to be productive citizens [who] can contribute positively to the development of our nation,” Dublin-Collins said.
The National School Chaplaincy Programme is expected to be launched in mid-November 2018.