‘Kill that dragon!’

Youth par­lia­men­tar­i­ans call for ac­tion to end di­vi­sion in ed­u­ca­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Jo­van Johnson Staff Reporter

YOUTH LEADER Keadar Sharpe has used the con­ven­ing of the National Youth Par­lia­ment for the first time in seven years to de­mand that the Gov­ern­ment pro­vide struc­tured psy­choso­cial care to chil­dren in schools to curb crime and violence.

“This noble House must move ur­gently to im­ple­ment a com­pre­hen­sive in­te­grated sys­tem of psy­choso­cial care with­out any de­lay,” the Young Philoso­phers rep­re­sen­ta­tive told 73 other youth from di­verse ar­eas of national life yes­ter­day. They were de­bat­ing a mo­tion for the pro­vi­sion of psy­choso­cial care to chil­dren. “The lack of care has caused this coun­try to earn her­self a dragon but let us kill that ugly dragon called crime and violence.”

Ac­cord­ing to him, the na­tion “is un­der siege and lacks the nec­es­sary care to up­set the cur­rent state of af­fairs” and which, he said, is be­ing fu­elled by an ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem built on di­vi­sion.

“This dragon feeds on the di­vide,” the leader said, point­ing to is­sues sur­round­ing non-tra­di­tional and tra­di­tional schools. “She (dragon) likes to bring down Lady Ja­maica in her fiery fur­nace. The ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem should move to set up and adopt a sys­tem of psy­choso­cial care, and in this sys­tem all mem­bers will be cared for. None will be pushed out be­cause of any be­havioural prob­lems.”

THE JA­MAICAN au­thor­i­ties may have adopted the wrong ap­proach to tack­ling the deep-rooted lot­tery scam in St James, youth leader Keadar Sharpe be­lieves.

“The po­lice are tricked into feel­ing that they are the first po­lice, it is the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that is the first po­lice,” he said.

Youth par­lia­men­tar­i­ans agreed that set­ting up a net­work of psy­chol­o­gists to which schools can re­fer stu­dents for ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment would be a prac­ti­cal way of help­ing stu­dents who sur­vive on crim­i­nal­ity when side­lined.

“Why do we preach holis­tic de­vel­op­ment of our stu­dents but sel­dom pro­vide pro­grammes that do not only de­velop the aca­demic and phys­i­cally at­tributes of our stu­dents but also in­cor­po­rate the psy­choso­cial,” ar­gued Chris­tine Wil­liams, a National Youth Coun­cil of Ja­maica rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Sha­joe Lake, a Univer­sity of the West In­dies stu­dent am­bas­sador, be­lieves that im­ple­ment­ing mea­sures to sup­port the psy­cho­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of chil­dren would pre­vent teach­ers and par­ents from marginal­is­ing chil­dren.

“De­ten­tions, sus­pen­sions and ex­pul­sions will not solve the prob­lems. These are paci­fiers, they are not so­lu­tions,” she ar­gued yes­ter­day at the sit­ting of the National Youth Par­lia­ment at Gor­don House.


Along with psy­choso­cial care, the youth par­lia­men­tar­i­ans also de­bated and ap­proved mo­tions on youth un­em­ploy­ment and cli­mate change.

Al­nas­tazia Wat­son from the National Sec­ondary Stu­dents’ Coun­cil said a cli­mate change ac­tion coun­cil run by youth would be one way of get­ting more youth in­volved in mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion ef­forts.

On the is­sue of un­em­ploy­ment, Iyoki Sargeant, who is blind, and Cristophe Phillips, who is deaf, lamented the dif­fi­cul­ties they said mem­bers of the dis­abled com­mu­nity face.

They said a realignment of re­sources and a con­scious ef­fort by em­ploy­ers and in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing are im­por­tant in giv­ing them eq­uity and equal­ity.

“In­suf­fi­cient funds have been al­lo­cated for deaf ed­u­ca­tion at the ter­tiary lev­els. Even in in­stances where a deaf per­son is able to af­ford tu­ition fees, there is no ac­cess to class­room lectures, and class­room par­tic­i­pa­tion is im­pos­si­ble be­cause trained pro­fes­sional in­ter­preters are not pro­vided,” he said through an in­ter­preter, call­ing for ad­di­tional pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign.

He also rec­om­mended the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­tern­ship pro­gramme us­ing pub­licpri­vate part­ner­ships to help mem­bers of the dis­abled com­mu­nity tran­si­tion into the labour mar­ket.

The National Youth Par­lia­ment was es­tab­lished in 2003 to give youth an op­por­tu­nity to use the na­tion’s leg­is­la­ture to speak on is­sues af­fect­ing their pop­u­la­tion. It is part of the ac­tiv­i­ties mark­ing Novem­ber as Youth Month.

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