Action needed to tackle ills
A CALLER TO BRASS TACKS on Wednesday, August 23, stated that the Attorney General’s speeches often sounded “like poetry in motion”. Not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. Thankfully the Minister of Culture affirmed a stricter code of punitive sentencing.
Barbados must not become Dudus Coke country; it is too small. The Front Page of the MIDWEEK NATION of August 23 read Outsiders: Gall Hill Folk Say Gun Violence Is Imported. The question is, imported from where? Gall Hill is not far from Silver Hill, which is not far from Brittons Hill, which is not far from Barbarees Hill, which is not far from Deacons and Black Rock. Barbados is not Jamaica where Montego Bay is some distance from Ocho Rios and even further from Portland. In Barbados, we are all vulnerable.
Two courses of action must be undertaken soon and effectively. One is immediate, the other more long term. Firstly, the functions of the Barbados judicial system must be systemically improved. The highest court in the region has indicted the failings of the Barbadian court system. Former Justice Carlyle Greaves indicated that he has some expertise in the matter. Hear him out. Hopefully, the intellect is there and contrary to what I’m told, the principals involved do in fact care. One is saddened when one hears that “de fellas (whoever de fellas are) doan care”.
As for the second course of action, we must substantively reorient our school system away from the historical academic focus. The new focus must be on technical and vocational education with some liberal inputs that work towards positive socialisation, that seek to teach the student how “to be”, in the best sense of “being”. R.V. Goodridge observed that schools teach values by the standards they uphold. The focus group must be on boys and girls who are not academically bookishly inclined, who may not by age 16 satisfy the requirement of CXC/CSEC.
A lot has been said about how the Barbadian schooling system is failing children. There is one group that Barbadian formal schooling has consistently failed. That is often the poor, largely black (given the demographics) working class, non-academic child. This is not uncommon in highly stratified capitalist societies where academic abilities and studies are privileged over other forms of intelligence and pursuits.
Over the past 50 years, we have understandably poured a lot of money into secondary and university education that has benefited the so-called brighter children. Less attention has been paid to compensatory schooling for the less able in the primary system, and technical and vocational in the secondary. Thus, an academically able child can go from primary to secondary to university or Barbados Community College.
There is far less capacity for the child who leaves school with little or no certification, skills and increasingly weak socialisation to positive norms. They emerge into the wider society with what a foreign commentator terms “a lethal ignorance”. The decline of the informal trade-learning apprenticeship system in the 1970s and beyond, created a void that was never satisfactorily filled. To some extent we are paying the price for that. A caller to Brass Tacks made a call for Barbadians to “find significance” in skills and vocational learning, and to honour and reward such with something approaching the zeal with which we celebrate academic excellence.
Of course the most revealing aspects of contemporary Barbadian life came from Mr X himself. Anyone who can go for two days without a meal is bound to incur some empathy, no matter how much wrong he had done. The Government of Barbados must do more to look after its hungry and homeless. A hungry man can indeed be a dangerous man.
Mr X’s contribution testifies to the moral decomposition of Barbadian society, much of it hidden in the underbelly of our collective soul. Mr X conceded that much in the popular music is causing the problems. He stated: “When you listen to certain songs, it is pure violence, pure war.” He noted that what he termed “underground music” was “raw . . . calling out the crews”. He admitted that even the local lyrics were “boosting war”.
Is this the music that is played on the buses to and from school? Not surprisingly, the children are fighting on the buses. The whole ZR culture has had a destructive effect on the school system. We are walking backward into the darkness when we should be moving forward into the light.
Much of the discussion on Brass Tacks of August 21 testifies to the growth of a socio-economic underclass submerged in a self-defeating subculture, and to the increasing fragmentation of the black family. One of the harsh realities of Barbadian life is that there are too many black children born into situations where their material-economic and sociocultural life chances are frustratingly tenuous. Mothers poorly educated, unskilled and pregnant with a fifth child; fathers unknown, irresponsible and occasional. The task before black people throughout the diaspora is the restoration of the black family and the acquisition of economic power.