PHILIPSBURG–The first biannual Caribbean Well-Being Conference, which got off the ground at University of St. Martin (USM) on Monday, exceeded the expectations of conference organisers and attracted a large number of participants.
A total of 312 persons registered for the conference on Monday. Participants included primarily educators from primary schools, but some from secondary schools also attended. Participants also included care team members from schools, school managers and other persons. The conference, which continues at USM today, also includes a two-day exhibition. There are a total of 24 presenters for the conference.
Head of the Education Ministry’s Student Support Services Division (SSSD) Olga Mussington said during the official opening ceremony on Sunday evening that the vision for the Conference goes hand-in-hand with the vision for the Student Support Services Division. She said students’ wellbeing is central to SSSD’s work and stakeholders “should continually assess to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the youth that we serve.”
She said students’ wellbeing is important for two reasons. The first is the recognition that schooling should not just be about academic outcomes, but that it is about the wellbeing of the whole child. The second is that students who have the highest levels of wellbeing tend to have better cognitive outcomes at school.
The focus on the whole child, she added, is at the core of the services that SSSD provides under the motto “If every child must learn, then every parent, family and community must be a part of the process.”
Students’ wellbeing represents the whole child and includes physical health, development and safety; psychological and emotional development; social development and behaviour; cognitive development; and educational achievement.
“Student wellbeing should not be seen as something else we do in schools. Wellbeing must be integrated into the school learning environment, the curriculum and pedagogy, the policies and procedures at schools, and the partnerships inherent within and out of schools, including teachers, students, parents, support staff and community groups,” she said.
“Engagement and well-being are the crux of what we do and if we get it right, outcomes will largely look after themselves for all of us and our nations will thrive. You have the knowledge and the wherewithal to help pave the way into the future. You are truly one of our greatest assets and we need to work together.”
She urged participants to remain engaged during the conference and to prepare themselves to be challenged, excited and inspired.
Education Minister Silveria Jacobs said the conference is instrumental in guiding parents and teachers on the importance of positive development and wellbeing of children. “As a Caribbean community, we must strive to empower and encourage our children spiritually, mentally and emotionally, thereby positively altering their mind-set from early on in their lives,” Jacobs said in remarks in the conference booklet.
The keynote address was delivered by visually impaired educator Dr. Hixwell Douglas, a former Assistant Chief Education Officer for the Special Education Unit in the Ministry of Education of the Government of Jamaica. His presentation was said to have inspired and touched many during the opening ceremony. Douglas was also a conference presenter.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/68321-well-being-conference-attracts-312-participants