Sunday, 18 March 2018

Perspectives on Homeschooling

Homeschooling is not a sprint, the process is indicative of a marathon. Homeschooling is a parent led home-based educational practice which has grown tremendously over the years. Homeschooling involves the parent undertaking the responsibility for the education of their child in the controlled surroundings of the home. Homeschooling is often motivated by parental desire to exclude and shield their children from the traditional school environment, which over the years has become a battleground of sort characterized by bullying and negative peer pressure. Unfortunately, an increasing number of parents are home schooling their children due to health purposes. For example, some children may have severe food allergies and as such it’s best that such children are educated at home. Additionally, there are some parents who prefer to give their child/children a more religious based educational experience which home education facilitates more than being educated in the traditional public school system. The schooling of children outside of the formal structure of a classroom has always been a feature of human development. The modern homeschooling movement began in the 1970’s. John Holt, an educational theorist and supporter of school reform is credited with pioneering work in the movement. Holt argued that formal schools’ focus on rote learning created an oppressive classroom environment designed to make children compliant employees. Holt’s ideology calls for parents to liberate their children from formal education and instead follow a method known as “unschooling”. Raymond Moore, a colleague of Holt and educational theorist argued that children should be schooled at home until age 8 or 9 so as to balance their educational and psychological needs.  Sociological research on homeschooled families suggests that there have been two main groups.  Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who want to give their children a Christian education and progressive who believes that formal schooling stifles children’s natural creativity and that education takes place best outside the classroom. In the United States of America, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Originally, homeschooling or home education as it is referred to in England was practiced mainly underground or in rural areas. It is estimated that there are 2 million homeschooled students in the U.S.A. or 3.4 % of the student population.
Finland is located between Sweden and Russia in Northern Europe. Finland is often viewed as an innovated country when it comes to education. Finland has consistently been ranked as the top or near the top in worldwide education surveys. Finnish students only take one standardized test during their entire primary and secondary schooling. This test is called the National Matriculation Examination. This test is taken at the end of high school and is graded by teachers, not computers. Although homeschooling is legal in Finland it is extremely rare. Finland has a population of 5.2 million people (2014 estimated). According to Finland Home Educators Association the number of homeschoolers stands at just over 300 students as of the end of 2014. It can be argued that most Finns are generally happy with public education and therefore do not see the need to home school their children.
Singapore is located in the continent of Asia. Singapore’s education system is among the most highly regarded in the world, but is also famously known as a pressure cooker. Education in Singapore is managed by the Ministry of Education which controls the development and administration of state schools in addition to their advisory and supervisory role of private schools. Most students in Singapore’s government schools take two major examinations yearly and have monthly test to track their progress. Singapore has a population of 5.3 million people (2012 census). The country formally legalized homeschooling through the codification of the Compulsory Education Act in 2000.  According to the Ministry of Education since 2003 about 500 pupils have been homeschooled. Children born after January 1, 1996 are required to attend public school for six years starting at age 6: however, exemptions to this mandate are allowed and include homeschooling. 
Jamaica’s history of colonization by European countries helped to shape the homeschooling movement on the island. During the period of enslavement and plantocracy, parents of the white ruling class hired tutors to instruct and provide knowledge to their children. However, today, homeschooling is not confined to any particular social class or religious persuasion. With a population of approximately 2.8 million people, there are Muslims, Christian and Rastafarians parents who home school their children. Parents who provide home education for their children are from all socio-economic groups within the society. It can be said that some parents chose the route of home schooling as a form of resistance to the establishment. Such parents are critical and skeptical of any government intervention into their lives or the lives of the children and prefer to avoid any association with the State as much as possible.  The Independent Schools’ Unit, of the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information is the regulatory arm of the government which oversees and provides support to parents who chose to home school their children. The Independent Schools’ Unit (ISU) is headed by a Registrar and operates under the Independent Schools Regulations of 1973. The Education Act of 1980 states in Part 3 that “It shall be the duty of the parent of every child of compulsory school age residing in a compulsory education area to cause him to receive full-time education suitable to his age and ability, and satisfactory of the Educational Board for area, by regular attendance “or otherwise”. Under the “or otherwise” phrase in the law, families can legally home school in Jamaica.  A growing number of Jamaican parents are opting to home school their children in an effort to better meet the ‘special’ needs of their children. Among the ‘special’ needs students often diagnosed are those with: Autism, Down Syndrome, Dyslexia, Blindness, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Giftedness, Cystic Fibrosis, Tourette Syndrome, Dysfunction of Sensory Integration. The label of ‘special’ needs is used to describe a clinical diagnosis and functional development to illustrate individuals who require assistance for disabilities that maybe medical, mental and or psychological. According to the regulations governing homeschooling in Jamaica, a home school shall have no more than six (6) children who are members of the household. Special permission must be granted from the Ministry of Education for the home to exceed the maximum six (6) children. In order for a parent to register his/her child with the Independent Schools Unit, of the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information as a homeschooler, the parent must submit the following documents: A completed application form, a completed National Student Registration System (NSRS) Form, certified copy of student Birth Certificate, certified copy of student Immunization Card, a copy of the student timetable, 2 letters of recommendation (either from a Justice of the Peace, Minister of Religion, Principal, Education Officer), a certified passport sized photograph of child, a certified copy of parent/tutor qualification who will teach the child and a certified copy of parent ID who is completing the Home Schooling Application Form. In keeping with the draft policy on homeschooling, attendance and evaluation records of students must be kept and such students must sit all national assessments and examinations relevant to their age cohort. Examples of national examinations are: the Grade Four Literacy (GFLT) and the Grade Four Numeracy Tests (GFNT) and the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). It is important to note that 2018 is the last year students will be sitting the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). The Primary Exit Profile (PEP) will replace GSAT in 2019.  The draft policy on homeschooling also allows for official home school inspections to ensure that standards are maintained.  It can be argued that there are some parents who continue to express reservation about the inspection of their home. However, such an inspection is only confined to the area within the home which is used to provide instruction to the child. As a result parents should be rest assured that their entire home will be subjected to an inspection. This is critical since in some instances children are pulled from the public education system and are kept at home without benefitting from an education. The rights of the child are paramount at all times, and these rights include, the right to an education. In addition to the curricula provided by the Education Ministry, parents of homeschooled children have the option of using a curricular of their choice. Among the more popular curricula used by homeschooling parents are Abeka Book, Montessori, Waldorf, Bob Jones Complete and Christian Liberty Academy Satellite Schools. Once a parent is registered with the Ministry of Education that parent can request support through the Ministry’s textbook system by writing to the Media Services Unit, Caenwood Centre, Ministry of Education, 37 Arnold Road, Kingston 4. A copy of the request should also be done for the Registrar, Independent Schools Unit.   
International Conventions and Treaties on the Rights of the Child
The right to an education is grounded in international conventions and treaties, namely the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, commonly referred to as the UNCRC. This UN Convention is legally binding and guarantees the right to an education to all children once the country in question ratifies the Treaty. Countries which ratify this Convention are bound to it by International Law. Jamaica ratified the UNCRC in 1991.  Article 28 of the UNCRC (Right to Education) states all children have the right to a primary education, which should be free. Additionally, the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, Article 29 (Goals of Education) states that children’s education should develop each child’s personality, talents and abilities to the fullest.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations in Paris on December 10, 1948, establishes fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Of particular interest is:
Article 26 (1) everyone has the right to education.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. While many home-school parents have expressed concerns regarding the privacy of their home regarding inspection we must be mindful that at all times the best interest of the child should be given paramount priority. The inspection of a home would clearly be limited to that area within the home where the teaching and learning of the student takes place. Educators are always concerned about the social development of students; this is given more importance in the instances of home education. Jean Piaget (1896-1980), psychologist, argues that the development of ‘self’-evolved through a negotiation between the world as it exists in one’s mind and the world that exists as it is experienced socially. It bears thought that the socialization of students is a critical component in developing self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as, acquiring the skills set necessary to interface and interact with people of all social backgrounds. It is highly recommended that parents who home school provide as much opportunities for their child/children to socialize with children of their age group. Regrettably, some parents are selfish and pull their children from public education because they cannot be bothered to live by the rules of the school. This is egotistical approach is never a good reason to home school. This aspect of the child’s development can be facilitated by allowing the child to go on educational trips with a school. Given the age of human trafficking and the rampant abuse of children, it is not far-fetched that abuse of children can and does take place under the guise of homeschooling. As a result the authorities must do all within their powers to ensure that no child is abused or is denied access to an education.  A number of famous individuals have acquired their education through homeschooling, these include: Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Albert Einstein, Condoleeza Rice, Florence Nightingale, George Washington and Alexander Graham Bell
Protocol of Behaviour Concerning Home School Inspection
In a time of communicable and contagious diseases, such as, Measles, Chicken Pox, Hand Foot and Mouth Diseases it bears thought that some minimum set standards regarding home school inspection must be addressed in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “communicable disease” means an illness caused by an infectious agent or its toxins that occurs through the direct or indirect transmission of the infectious agent or its products from an infected individual or via an animal, vector or the inanimate environment to a susceptible animal or human host. As a result, it is critical that personnel from the Education Ministry, who visit the homes of parents ensure that set guidelines are being adhered, take some basic precautions to make certain that they are not exposed to any disease. It is recommended that such authorities wash their hands regularly, as well as use a hand sanitizer with alcohol to prevent any possible transmission of viruses.
While is it clear that home schooling is legal in many jurisdictions and growing in numbers, it is  evident that parents in those societies which are ranked at the top of the educational ladder namely Finland and Singapore prefer to send their children to public schools.  In the words of Plato, “Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore, do not use compulsion, but let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to discover the child’s natural bent”.
#privateeducation #homeschool #Jamaica #Finland #Singapore #education #childrenrights #independentschools

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Building Partnerships For A Healthier Society

“Health is not valued till sickness comes”-Thomas Fuller
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), US $6.5 trillion dollars is spent globally on health care. The WHO states that total expenditure per person per year stands at US $948.  The issue of health care financing is of concern to all governments however, the problem is of more concern to poorer nations due to budgetary constraints.  According to WHO, many countries need to use available funds more efficiently and raise more funds from domestic sources, but these measures would be insufficient to fill the current gap in the poorest countries. The WHO adds that only an increased and predictable flow of donor funding will allow poorer countries to meet basic health needs in the short to medium term. It is critical that we establish partnerships, whether public, private or government to government in order to tackle the issues associated with the health care sector. The proposed Chinese government support of US $46 million to build a 220 bed hospital is a prime example of donor funding regarding health care financing.  Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton made this announcement in a wide ranging “Vision for Health Care” speech to delegates who attended the Jamaica55 Diaspora Conference. The minister said that the health care facility will be built on lands at the Cornwall Regional Hospital and that when completed the hospital will cater to children 13-18 years old. According to the Minister the Chinese government will provide some of the equipment to be used in the medical facility, but the government will have to source the remainder.  A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed between the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the Ministry of Health.  UNOPS, the operational arm of the United Nations, will be required to review technical documents, preliminary designs/drawings and medical equipment for the proposed Western Regional Children’s Hospital. UNOPS will also evaluate and establish the required actions to strengthen the infrastructure for Spanish Town, May Pen, St. Ann’s Bay Regional and Mandeville Hospitals as well as assess the feasibility for the reorganization of the Kingston Public Hospital.
Reform Agenda for Public Health Care
The Ministry of Health has embarked on a Reform Agenda for Public Health to improve health care for Jamaicans. The Minister of Health stated that this health reform agenda will include:  A 10 year strategic plan which is being supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The Minister announced that an assessment of the four regional health authorities will be conducted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).  He also mentioned that a National Health Insurance Scheme is to be implemented during the next financial year on a phased basis.
Partnership with the Diaspora
The Minister lamented the continued shortage of specialist nurses in the public health care system. Dr. Tufton made an appeal to members of the diaspora with the expertise, especially in nephrology and oncology.  Minister Tufton in his speech informed the delegates at the conference that the government was seeking to forge a partnership with jurisdictions outside of Jamaica to give Jamaican nurses clinical experience.  The minister stated that given the limitation of hospital space, nurses trained locally would be able to go to the United Kingdom and Cuba to complete that aspect of their training.  The Minister went on to add that there are currently eight categories of specialist nurses which are understaffed in the public health care sector.  Dr. Tufton in his overview of Jamaica’s health care system referred to five areas regarding the Vision for Health Care. These are:
A healthy and balanced diet and physical activity, regular screening and check- ups, primary and secondary care infrastructure, health financing and health personnel. Minister Tufton told the delegates attending the Jamaica Conference Centre housed Jamaica55 Diaspora forum that the Jamaican government was seeking to create a Centre of Excellence at the St. Joseph’s Hospital to offer specialized care in Oncology and Nephrology.  Dr. Tufton stated that some 150, 000 Jamaicans require some form of dialysis and that there was a waiting list for this service in the public health care system.
It bares thought that in order to achieve sustainable development a society must have a healthy workforce in which access to affordable medical care is within reach of the most vulnerable in the society. A holistic health care policy must take into consideration the United Nations, Sustainable Developments Goals (SDG’s). Goal #3 speaks to ensuring healthy lives and the promotion of well-being for all at all ages which is essential to sustainable growth.  In order for Jamaica to realize fully this goal there must be an unhindered path to primary health care facilities such as a hospital in keeping with the SDG’s.  Minister Tufton continues to urge the Jamaican Diaspora community to get involved in the Ministry of Health’s Adopt A Clinic programme. According to Minister Tufton, there are 100 clinics waiting to be adopted, of this number, thirty (30) proposals have already expressed an interest in adopting a clinic.
Since this announcement the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) has come on board and has adopted 15 clinics. The Minister ended his presentation by reminding the delegates that all donations to the health sector should be done through the “Health for Life and Wellness Foundation”, an affiliate of the Ministry of Health.  In the words of Hippocrates, “healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” 
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#JaMoves #StayActive #Healthcare #SDG’s #Jamaica

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Social Injustice, Abandonment And Urban Renewal

“In the planning and designing of new communities, urban projects and urban renewal, the planners both private and public, need to give explicit consideration to the kind of world that is being created for the children who will be growing up in these settings. Particular attention should be given to the opportunities which the environment presents or precludes for involvement of children both older and younger than themselves. “-Urie Bronfenbrenner
As rural urban migration increases the vacuum which exit between urban planning, governance and sustainable development continues to widen. Jamaica, over the last decade has experienced crucial economic and social transformation. However, many in the society view development through the lenses of construction of new infrastructure, including highways, hotels and housing schemes.  Accompanying this process of transformation has been rapid urbanization in which more than half of the population now lives in urban centres.  Jamaica’s population has increased over the decades, so too have been the myriad of developmental issues, namely, unavailability of affordable housing, squatting, the political garrisonization of communities, poor urban planning and management as well as inequality and poverty. Another consequence of the weak planning system plaguing the society is the poor management of urban growth and development. This has resulted in spatially unbalanced development, which can be seen all across urban and rural areas. It is estimated that twenty five (25%) of Jamaica’s population live in Kingston and St. Andrew and most development is concentrated in and around the Kingston Metropolitan Region (KMR), which includes parts of St. Thomas and parts of St. Catherine.
Sustainable Development Goal #11
Half of humanity, 3.5 billion people live in cities and this number will continue to grow according to the United Nations (UN). Since the future will be urban for the majority of people there is a sense of urgency to ensure that cities are safe, resilient and sustainable. Cities are incubators for thoughts, commerce, culture, science, social development among others. Unfortunately, many cities are also more vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters due to their high concentration of people and location therefore building urban resilience is critical to avoid human, social and economic losses. According to the UN, the cost of poorly planned urbanization can be seen in some of the huge slums, tangled traffic, climate change, green-house gas emission and sprawling suburbs all over the world. Inequality is a big concern, so says the UN. Disturbingly, some 828 million people live in slums and this number keeps rising. The UN adds that the levels of urban energy consumption and pollution are also worrying. By choosing to act sustainably, there is a need to build cities where all citizens live a decent quality of life and form a part of the city’s dynamic, creating shared success and social stability without harming the environment as stated by the United Nations. Our children require green spaces to play, and to learn about their environment in an uncontaminated atmosphere. We need to have sidewalk accessibility, not only for the able bodied, but also for members of the disabled community. This is why Sustainable Development Goal (SDG’s) #11 is so important in urban planning and management as the focus is on making cities safe, resilient and sustainable for all.  
Social Injustice
It is rather disturbing and unacceptable that in many communities the failure by the State to act decisively has resulted in the slow death of neighborhoods.  The life of such communities has been sucked out; these once vibrantly rich communities are a thing of the past. The State has abandoned its role. Big and medium sized businesses have invaded residential space; many residents with limited options are forced to live among the bustle and hustle of these businesses. The rapid continuation of commercialization of residential areas needs urgent attention from both central governments. Perhaps, local government should not have been included in the framework of accountability. Is local government dead or on life support? Maybe it’s a matter that local government is impotent to act; and as a result residents are left to the mercy of big businesses. The inconvenience of having your gate way blocked almost daily is a common recurrence. The attraction of crime to such areas has been documented and is a cause for concern especially given the country’s high crime rate. These business places are allowed to do anything, for example, they use the roadway as the parking area for their customers. Interestingly, among their customers are members of the security forces. Distressingly, due to the nature of some of these businesses rodents and other insects find these junkyards as a safe haven, to live, work and raise their families.  The social decay caused by commercialization of residential areas is real. Additionally, such business entities sow discord among communities. Sadly, once the cancer of commercialization of residential areas enters a community, that community along with the people will never be the same again. In some older residential communities every other premises has been overtaken by commercialization.  Unfortunately, Neighbourhood Watch in these communities has succumbed to a slow and painful death, given that not enough residents reside there anymore.  There is a sense of abandonment and paralysis in many of these communities, both from local and central government. It bears thought are we going to continue along this path? Is this the only way to define development? Should development be at the expense of one set of people who are disadvantaged along economic grounds? What is the role and function of the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC)?  What is the role of the State in urban planning and renewal? Is there the political will to enforce our laws which will restore law and order in these communities? Those with wealth and influence have been able to circumvent zoning laws in a selfish and destructive way while sacrificing the overall well-being of communities in which such businesses operate.  It bears consideration that nothing is given back to those communities as it appears that the government is unable to bring to account those individuals who operate with a sense of impunity.  It seems as well that there is some form of classism at play since these businesses dare not breach the building codes where they live, however, they go into less affluent communities to begin their businesses, creating mayhem and havoc in the process of changing the dynamics of these communities. 
According to the United Nations (UN) more than half of the world’s population live in urban areas.  The UN states that by 2050, that figure will be 6.5 billion people, two-thirds of all humanity. This clearly tells us that we cannot allow for ad hoc development to take place in our urban spaces. There is a need for an Urban Planning and Management Policy; this must be accomplished by engaging in a consultative approach with members of civil society and Non Government Organizations (NGO’s). It is senseless having any policy or law which is not enforceable. What exists now is a disenfranchised sub-group of the population, which based on income levels, is unable to enjoy an atmosphere defined as safe, inclusive and clean for their children to grow. The practice is not only unfair; it is also immoral to those Jamaicans many of whom are retired to have to live in such conditions. The fact that real estate is more affordable in such areas should not be used as an excuse to give carte blanche permission to those who are self-centered and go about breaking laws and creating disorder. Many who remain behind in such communities have no choice, but this does not mean that they should be discriminated against.  This discrimination arises due to the nature of some of these businesses. For example, noise and air pollution are common features that the citizenry in these areas experience daily.  Sadly, there is no recourse; there is no one entity to complain to. The implications for those who live in such areas are far-reaching and disquieting, and affect not only the present generation but also the next generation.  One might ask what about political representation in those areas. It seems from all indication that Members of Parliament and Municipal Councils do not see the deterioration and destruction of the communities they represent as a priority; this conclusion has been arrived at since successive governments have done very little to address this social issue and social injustice.
The Way Forward
The State needs to urgently embark on a process of gentrification in order to prevent the further erosion of the housing stock and restore communities which have been depleted of safe and affordable housing.  Too many of our people have lived in substandard living conditions for far too long, especially in our urban centres. Undoubtedly, the process of gentrification has positive spin off effects not only for communities but also for the government. Along with the restoration of communities comes an improved market value of these homes, which will mean more taxes for the government by means of property taxes. We have not paid much attention to our environment and now we are reaping the bitter fruits of this inattentiveness regarding environmental matters.  
Each community needs to develop a vision for their street and community; this should be shared with all stakeholders including the political representative to ensure that all citizens benefit from having a safe and crime free community.
If the government is truly serious about Jamaica achieving developed status by 2030, as well as realizing Vision 2030, “Jamaica: the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business”, then the State must act now to ensure that we have an accountability framework regarding urban planning and management in order to achieve sustainable development.  The State needs to employ a multi-sectoral approach to urban planning which will enable government, business and civil society to provide the citizenry with basic needs to jump start a process or urban renewal.
We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this problem which over the years have ballooned into a national crisis and is now worthy of attention from the Office of the Prime Minister.  
In the words of Ban Ki –moon, sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strength governance.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#socialinjustice #classism #development #urbanplanning #governance #incomeinequality #localgovernment #culture #poverty #climatechange #neighbourhoodwatch #sidewalkgarage

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Intersection of Ash Wednesday And Valentine's Day

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.”- Pope Francis
Secularism has been on the rise since time immemorial. It seems there is no escape from the twin pillars of commercialization and globalization which together have done much to usher in and maintain a focus which is far removed from God and His church. Alarmingly, even among some quarters of the church a seemingly silent thread of secularism exits. While Ash Wednesday is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, the practice of sprinkling oneself with ashes has Biblical references. Among the Bible verses are  1 Kings 21:27,  “It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently.”  Ash Wednesday is significant for the church in many ways. However, perhaps the most pronounced importance of this now Christian festivity, is the beginning of the Lent, a period of forty days of fasting, abstinence and temptation which Christ endured. It is also known as “The Day of Ashes”, which commemorate that day when Christians mark their forehead with ashes in the shape of a cross.  Some theologians argue that Ash Wednesday non-Christian origin was accepted into the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.
Biblical Reference
In the Old Testament ashes were used for two purposes; as a sign of humility and mortality and as an indicator for sorrow and repentance of sin. The symbolism of putting a cross mark on the forehead has its genesis in Romans 6; 3-18 and serves as a spiritual representation mark placed on a Christian at the time of his or her baptism.  It bears thought are Christians obligated to observe Ash Wednesday? On the other hand many Christians and non-Christians see it as their duty to observe Valentine’s Day.  Every February 14, candy, flowers, strawberry and gifts are exchanged between loved ones in the name of St. Valentine. According to some sources over 150 million St. Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually making it the second most popular card sending holiday after Christmas. Among the symbols of Valentine’s Day are the red roses, the favourite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love.  In Roman mythology Cupid, is the god of erotic love, desire, attraction and affection.  Does it matter if the church adopted an ancient festival used to worship pagan gods?  For an answer we turn to Leviticus 18:30, “Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not ye anyone of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God. “
It is clear that in this day and age the church has not only adopted these pagan customs but has embraced them as well in contradiction to the teaching of God. The children of Israel were warned to stay away from these pagan activities as it would contribute to their downfall as a nation. It is quite likely that should you walk into a church regardless of denomination on anyone of these holidays you would see the members partaking in the rituals and gift giving.  It can be argued that we have lost our way as a people of God and as a result the rest of the world does not fear or respect God’s instruction.  For 400 years the children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt and upon their exit they fell right back into the customs that led to their enslavement. The old adage, the more things change is the more they remain the same is rather useful in this instance.  Regardless of all signs and miracles God showed the children of Israel that He is their God they were disobedient and chose to worship a graven image of a golden calf while Moses was away getting instructions, laws and commandments.  Although no one has pinpointed the exact origin of Valentine’s Day, however, a good place to start is ancient Rome, where men hit on women by doing exactly that, hitting them. From February 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia where drunken naked men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just killed. The young women would queue for the men to hit them. They believed this would make them fertile.  This brutal celebration included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be sexually engaged for the duration of the festival, or longer.  The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of this holiday. On February 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine's Day.  Later, Pope Gelasius I confused things even more in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine's Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. However, that didn't change much as there was still much drinking and sex involved. 
As the years went on, the holiday grew in popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. It was during this period that handmade paper cards became the token of choice in the Middle Ages. Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century. In 1913, Hallmark Cards began mass producing Valentine cards and some might add that February has not been the same since. Today, Valentine’s Day is a multi-billion dollar industry: According to market research firm IBIS World, Valentine's Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year; this year's sales are expected to total $18.6 billion.  Undoubtedly, many will break the proverbial bank this Valentine’s Day buying jewellery, strawberry, chocolate and flowers for their loved ones without much concern about the true history of this pagan holiday. In the Jamaican culture, the period of Lent which culminates in Easter also sees an increase in sales of bun and cheese and fish, which fetches a high price during this season.  The clash of both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day is yet another reminder that secularism has invaded the once sacred space that Christendom once commanded.  While Lent is a season of spiritual preparation, Valentine’s Day is a time for eroticism and money making for merchants. A concerted effort must be made to safeguard our minds, thoughts and actions against the forces of evil which continue to find cunning ways to distract us from the kingdom of God. Having said this, one is not suggesting that you should not find time to spend with your spouse, after all God created marriages and conducted the first such ceremony between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.     
In the words of Plato, “for neither birth, nor wealth, nor honour, can awaken in the minds of men the principles which should guide those who from their youth aspire to an honourable and excellent life, as love awakens them.”
Kwame Barrett is a senior mortgage administrator, husband and father of three boys.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#AshWednesday #ValentinesDay #love #pagan #church #religion #culture

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Jamaican Creole, Colourism And Discrimination

“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going”- Rita Mae Brown
We are duty bound to educate the current generation as best as possible given our limited resources.  The issue of whether patois or Jamaican Creole should be given equal status as Standard English in our education system continues to be discussed in and outside of the halls of academia.  Like any good debate there are two intriguing sides, in fact, the arguments presented on either side of the discourse has immense significance which undoubtedly will impact policies surrounding the teaching and learning journey.
The people of the Caribbean speak a number of languages. Creole languages in the Caribbean have developed over the centuries depending on the influence of the original language spoken in a specific geographical area. The extent to which one chooses to switch from Jamaican Creole to Standard English is often dependent on the occasion.  For example, most pastors deliver their sermons in Standard English despite having a mixed congregation stratified by income, educational and social class levels. The church for the most part is viewed as a formal domain, where Standard English is the preferred language. Interestingly, we do not hear of anyone or group complaining that sermons should be delivered in Jamaican Creole. It is always fascinating to listen to our politicians regarding how they address their faithful followers. Their choice of language on the campaign trail is the Jamaican Creole nine and a half out of ten times as they try to connect with party supporters. This deliberate use of language speaks volume regarding the value placed on Jamaican Creole by those who are elected to serve the masses.  Additionally, we are expected to communicate in Standard English at the workplace and in official settings. The target language in our schools and within the education system is Standard English. While we should appreciate that the first language or “mother tongue” of most of our people is Jamaican Creole we must also realize that the responsibility to guide our students towards the target language is an awesome task which must be carried out assiduously in order to prepare our students for their future. The education system is one in which students are assessed at various intervals throughout the primary and secondary levels in Standard English.  The fact is too many of our students begin primary education uncomfortable with Standard English. This difficulty or challenge with the language of instruction often hinders the progress of those students, many of whom get frustrated, resulting in them exhibiting maladaptive behaviours. It is the responsibility of the education system to scaffold and facilitate those students becoming fluent in Standard English as quickly as possible in order for them to successfully navigate the National Standards Curriculum. Educators must be mindful that in order for this to take place there must be consistency as it relates to how the teaching of English is approached.  Our socialization process has taught us over the years that the ability to speak fluent Standard English is an indicator of social mobility.  As a result all Jamaicans are desirous of having their children speak the language of choice and take pride in the fact that we are bilingual; this duality of languages has served us well over the decades.  A colleague of mine Bertram Gayle, who holds a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) degree in Linguistics, from the University of the West Indies, Mona, opines that because Jamaican English is the first language of the vast majority of our students, equal status should be given.  “Instruction in their primary language of communication helps to facilitate the cognitive, comprehension, communication skills which the formal education requires.  He argues that equal status for Jamaican Creole or patois will codify the language and facilitate developing educational materials.”  He stated that while Jamaican Creole is used primarily in the informal settings the society needs to address the issues of classism, hence, the reluctance to make this move.  He concludes that the equal status campaign for Jamaican English is vast both locally and internationally. 
Language Acquisition Theories
One cannot speak about language development without making reference to Jim Cummins and his Language Acquisition Theories. Cummins is among those theorists who believe that languages are interconnected to each other. In 1979, Jim Cummins, Professor of Language and Literacy Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education introduced the Language Acquisition Theories.  Since then both the Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) have impacted and influenced policy decisions globally regarding classroom instruction. BICS speaks to conversational fluency in a language while CALP refers to students’ ability to understand and express him/herself both orally and in the written form. Cummins introduced the Language Acquisition Theories to raise awareness among educators regarding the challenges that second language learners encounter as they attempt to be on par with their peers in academic pursuits.  It bares thought that most of us in Jamaica and the Caribbean speak an English Creole as our first language. As a result, we have to learn a second language. This requires us to go through a process of development which some educators refer to as interlanguage or Creole Continuum. An interlanguage includes some forms of the second language, with a mixture of other structures from the first language. Here lies the problem with classifying the Jamaican Creole and other forms of Creole as a language. Given there is no lexicon for the ‘language ‘and therefore no agreed upon spelling and meaning of words, one must revisit the notion of what is a language. In fact, many of us are able to speak Jamaican Creole but have great difficulty writing and reading the language. This in and of itself is problematic and speaks to the lack of codification in the Jamaican Creole which will no doubt create another layer of problem for our education system.
Professor Hubert Devonish, of the Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy of the University of the West Indies, is on record stating that there is a need for protection from discrimination on the grounds of language.  I do agree with Professor Devonish regarding discrimination on the basis of language. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) states, discrimination is the selection for unfavourable treatment of an individual or individuals on the basis of: gender, race, colour or ethnic or national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, social class, age, marital status or family responsibilities, or as a result of any conditions or requirements that do not accord with the principles of fairness and natural justice. There are many occasions when predominantly Creole speakers feel uncomfortable in formal and official settings. Even educators are sometimes found guilty of this discrimination. Students entering the education system at the primary and or secondary levels speaking the standard language or a close version of it are viewed in a favourable light, as against their peers who enter the speaking Creole. Additionally, students of a lighter skin tone are also viewed favourably. Yet, we wonder why a significant percentage of our population continues to bleach their skin. The reality of each of us is different and we should not underestimate the realities of any sub-group within the society. Undoubtedly, the society owes a debt of gratitude to folklorist, Louise Bennett Coverly, (Miss Lou) who almost single- handedly with the use of Jamaican Creole in poetry and other creative forms facilitated the language to be accepted not only locally but internationally.   
Context and Currency
The general perception in the wider society is that primary speakers of Jamaican Creole are less intelligent than those who converse in Standard English. Certainly, there is a place for Jamaican Creole, however, now is not the time for us to grant equal status to the language in terms of mode of instruction in our schools. We must be realistic and honest to ourselves regarding how we prepare our students for their future. We live in a global context and as such the value placed on the Jamaican Creole does not have that high currency outside of academia and outside of Jamaica.  Therefore, we should not create avenues for our students to become misfits in a global arena, instead we should focus on those issues in education which can be addressed in the short to medium term to increase overall students’ outcome. It is the ability to speak Standard English which will provide protection from discrimination.  Another colleague who has been a teacher of English for over nineteen years at a prominent high school in Kingston stated that, “you need to consider the internal and external value of the language before embracing equal status. Simply redefining status does not guarantee equality. She gave the example of the issue of gender. “Advocacy for gender equality for centuries has resulted in equity rather than equality.”  My colleague does not believe the Jamaican Creole should be given equal status in our education system.  “It is not because it is not rich, but it has very little value beyond the region.”  She continues, “If it isn’t going to help later with trade, marketing, tourism, then it seems a bit pointless.” Can you imagine the Jamaican Prime Minister turning up at the United Nations and delivering his/her speech entirely using the Jamaican Creole?
As a society we tend to spend far much energy and resources on issues which are not necessary for the progress and overall development of our people. Our preoccupation with the Jamaican Creole having the same status as Standard English is misplaced. Instead educators and linguists should work together in trying to find ways and means of increasing the overall pass rate of our students, specifically, boys who sit the annual Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC).  It can be argued that any move towards changing the policy in which the Jamaican Creole will achieve equal footing with Standard English in our education system will create more problems than we are able to address. No one is advocating that we should not speak or promote our language the Jamaican Creole; however, like most things there is a place and time. The Jamaican Creole is ours; there is no need to claim ownership of the language, it is our birthright, and no one, and nothing can take away this away.  While bi-literacy is a critical part of empowering us as a people we should not rob the current generation by shifting focus to Jamaican Creole as the language of instruction. Our oral language is what defines us as a people. However, like everything else, relevance and context must be paramount. You would not expect to hear someone who just got robbed say, ‘there goes the robber’, instead you would anticipate hearing, ‘thief, tief, tief! Clearly, this is not the last word on the issue. I am sure more robust discussion on language rights will be taking place on the various social media platforms, in universities, among the Diaspora, educators and Jamaicans from all socio-economic backgrounds.     
In the words of Caribbean poet and scholar, Derek Walcott, the English Language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination: It is the property of the language itself.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#language #linguistics #gender #education #Jamaica #discrimination #culture #socialization #religion #InternationalMotherLanguageDay #parliament #society
#communication #lexicon #patois #classism #colourism #skinbleaching #colonialization #history

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Prostatitis, Masculinity And You

It is estimated that about 5- 10 percent of men will experience prostatitis during their lifetime.  Masculinity is often packaged in a tough and coarse wrapper. Unfortunately, this perception of manhood also serves as a barrier for preventing men from seeking medical care. It is disturbing that a significant number of men do not have a personal physician. Sadly, many of us men only seek medical attention at the point where pain becomes unbearable. An area of concern for most men is that of their prostate health, however, a considerable number of men refuse from seeking medical attention as it relates to this aspect of their health. The refusal of some men to seek medical intervention regarding prostate health is rooted in a culture of homophobia in which men are scared away by the thought of having a doctor insert his or her finger to check their prostate. Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland. According to, prostatitis can result from an infection or from other causes. The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system.  The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine and semen exit the body. The main function of the prostate gland is to produce seminal fluid in order to transport sperm through the urethra.
Types of Prostatitis
Prostatitis is classified in four groups. Firstly, there is Chronic Nonbacterial Prostatitis. This type is most common. It is also called Chronic Pelvis Pain Syndrome. A patient with this type of prostatitis may experience symptoms over a long period. Acceding to Urology Associates, symptoms may vary in their intensity and often include pain and discomfort. Sadly, doctors are unsure what the causes of this type are. Secondly, there is Acute Bacterial Prostatitis. This type of prostatitis is the least common. It can occur suddenly and may include flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, nausea, vomiting). This type is caused by bacteria being present in the prostate. Thirdly, there is Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis.  This type usually does not have symptoms nor require treatment. Interestingly, the cause is unknown but it is often diagnosed after infection-fighting cells are noted to be present.
Finally, there is Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis. This ongoing type of prostatitis is caused by a prostate infection that is not cleared up with antibiotics.     
According to the Mayo Clinic prostatitis often causes pain and or difficult urination. Other symptoms may include pain in the groin, blood in semen or urine, pelvic area or genitals and sometimes flu-like symptoms. Prostatitis affects men of all ages, but is more common in men 50 years or younger.  Other common symptoms range from, cloudy urine, blood in the urine, pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum (perineum), painful ejaculation, pain or discomfort of the penis and or testicles, pain or burning sensation when urinating (dysuria).       
Among the risks factors of prostatitis are HIV/AIDS, having had a prostate biopsy and having an infection in the bladder or the tube that transports semen and urine to the penis. (urethra)  In some men, prostatitis might raise the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). PSA is a substance produced by the prostate cells that doctors measure to screen for possible presence of prostate cancer.
A Challenging and Personal Sojourn
Recently, a colleague of mine who I will refer to as Kingsley went through a most challenging time as he went from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose and treat his medical condition. Kingsley’s ordeal began in August of 2017. Among the symptoms Kingsley spoke about was “spotting” of his underwear, a tingling movement along the urethra line, numbness in both legs, a tingling discomfort of the stomach, a reduction of urine flow, lower pelvic floor discomfort and an unusual sensation along the pelvic floor between his testicles and anus. He immediately consulted his doctor who did a test of his urine and diagnosed him with a urinary tract infection. According to Kingsley, aged 54, he was given a course of seven (7) days antibiotics. At the end of the treatment his symptoms disappeared much to the delight and relief of Kingsley, however, three days after he finished the antibiotics the ‘spotting’ returned.  He revisited the doctor who prescribed another 7 days course of antibiotics resulting in the clearing of the symptoms. He was thankful that his health had been restored, yet, this was to be short-lived and his nightmare was just to begin.  It is often said that bad luck is worse than obeah in the Jamaican culture. A month later he contracted influenza and like most of us he bought some over the counter (OTC) medication to treat the flu. It appeared at first that the OTC medication might have worked.  Kingsley, vividly recall being at work in early November when he began to experience stomach discomfort. As  2017  came to an end Kingsley was still battling a medical condition which was still very much a mystery. He had a frightening experience one evening when he suffered a panic attack while at home resulting in him losing consciousness briefly.  At this point Kingsley had no clue that his symptoms were related to prostatitis.  He had seen a number of doctors who were all treating him for Acid Reflux. The following week Kingsley experienced the same stomach symptoms and subsequently he went to the hospital fearing that he might experience a block out once again. The doctor on duty ordered a series of blood tests; Kingsley was given an Intravenous treatment. The doctor ruled out a heart attack and stomach bacteria after the results of both the Electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood test returned negative. According to Kingsley, the following week went fairly well. However, no sooner than the second week started his stomach started acting up again.  He went back to the hospital and this time the doctor on call ordered a number of tests to include a Barium Meal, a colonoscopy, ultrasound, blood tests for diabetes and cholesterol. It is always challenging for anyone to endure illness of any form by him/herself.. It was during this time that Kingsley moved in with his brother and his family for their support. The ultrasound showed that he had an enlarged prostate and some fat around the liver. Kingsley was extremely careful with his words as he stated that the blood tests revealed that he was marginally diabetic and suffering from borderline cholesterol.  The doctor immediately put him on medication to treat those conditions. Kingsley recalled that November of 2017 was the worst of his four month ordeal. On his fifth and final visit to the hospital the doctor told him that he had Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, commonly referred to as acid reflux.  He had multiple visits to the hospitals as well as a referral to a gastroenterologist. On the 23rd of November Kinsley noticed that he was having difficulty urinating.  On Monday, November 27, 2017, he experienced once again a burning discomfort in the pelvic floor as well as sensations going down towards his legs. Upon visiting his general practitioner he was diagnosed with prostatitis.  The glee of relief in Kingsley’s eyes was as bright as the morning sun on the day of the interview, Friday, January 5, 2018. It should be noted that Kingsley is still on the road to full recovery. He takes things one day at a time.  Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of acid reflux and prostatitis are similar. Regrettably, many men are made to suffer unnecessarily because the correct diagnosis is not readily made.   
How to Minimize Prostatitis
Although in some cases the cause of prostatitis is unknown, there are some things a man can do to minimize the risks of experiencing this condition. According to the online literature, it is recommended that men stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water since this helps men to urinate frequently, which flushes out the urethra.  
Avoiding irritating the urethra is also important in reducing the likelihood of developing prostatitis. This can be done by avoiding or limiting spicy food, alcohol and caffeine. This of course requires much discipline since many men consume alcohol, as well as, caffeine and spicy foods, such as jerk foods.  Reducing prostate pressure is also recommended. Men who ride bicycles frequently should consider wearing padded shorts to reduce pressure on the prostate region.
As the interview with Kingsley came to an end, he stressed that men need to pay more attention to their health. He also spoke of how important it is for men to move beyond the stigma associated with having a physically prostate examination. Kingsley encourages men over 40 years to have this procedure done at least once per year. In the words of Hippocrates, healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.    
#prostatitis #semen #urine #men #manhood #healthcare #urethra #alcohol #urinarytractinfection #homophobia #Hippocrates #medicine #water #masculinity #stigma #influenza #bladder #culture #Jamaica
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Education, Values And The Move Towards A National Grooming Policy For Schools

There seems to be a conspiracy in some sections of the society to thwart all efforts by the majority of Jamaicans to acknowledge and reaffirm their blackness especially as this relates to how they choose to express and represent their Afro- centricity. The debate surrounding the appropriateness of the Afro hairstyle in our schools is very much timely, more so, in light of Miss Jamaica Universe Davina Bennett's phenomenal success at the recently held Miss Universe competition. Miss Bennett mesmerized the global audience sporting her Afro hairstyle to place third. Interestingly, there were many in the society and the Diaspora who are still of the opinion that had she processed her hair she would have won the title. To what extent should the length and texture of one’s hair or hairstyle hinder one from receiving an education? Jamaica’s population is predominantly black.  However, the society continues to be haunted by our colonial past in which our forefathers endured hundreds of years of enslavement. Sadly, the present generation still suffers from a post-slavery syndrome, in which we belittle all that is associated with Africa and crave a Eurocentric lifestyle which we have been indoctrinated to accept as being superior. We have accepted new forms of neo-colonialism which continue to keep our minds in shackles. All children regardless of race, religion and gender have the right to an education. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.  Article 28 of the CRC, speaks to the Right to Education; in which Parties recognize the right of the child to education and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular: make primary education compulsory and free to all. Additionally, Parties should encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, make them available and accessible to every child and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need. Article 29 of the CRC addresses the Goals of Education whereby Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to: the development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. It clearly means that no child can or should be barred from school simply because of a hairstyle which some may argue is an extension of one’s personality or associated with one’s religion. Many of us who are old enough will recall those days in which children of the Rastafarian faith had  difficulty gaining acceptance to schools due to their dreadlocks. However, we have evolved over time, additionally policies and treaties have been developed to ensure that all children have a right and access to education.  Jamaica also benefits from other ethnic groups.  Are we going to ban boys for example who are of an Indian descent if they chose to grow their hair and gather it in one?  Similarly, are we going to have a comprehensive ban on hair extensions? What if a student is having chemotherapy for cancer or going through some other medical condition? Should we allow a student to feel lesser than because of a grooming policy which might not take into account cultural and historical relevance?  The education of our children should be paramount not only to make them better citizens but for sustainable development.  The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4 speaks to ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and the promotion of lifelong learning.  It bares thought that  obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development. Furthermore, Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, (Constitutional Amendment) Act 2011 in sub-section K (ii) states “The Right of every child who is a citizen of Jamaica, to publicly funded tuition in a public educational institution at the pre-primary and primary level.  It is very evident that those who were instrumental in creating Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights were aware of the importance of children accessing an education. The Education Ministry recently stated that a grooming policy was being developed to provide guidelines not only on the appropriateness of hairstyles for school, but also on one’s overall deportment. However, the aspect of the proposed grooming policy which has generated most debate is whether or not Afro is an appropriate hairstyle for the purpose of school.
History of the Afro Hairstyle
It is widely believed that at the end of the 1950’s, a significant number of young black female dancers and jazz singers broke with traditional black cultural norms and wore unstraigthened hair. The hairstyle at the time had no name and was referred to close-cropped.  Over the years the close-cropped hairstyle developed into a large, round shape worn by both sexes and had to be groomed with a wide-toothed comb known as the Afro pick.  It can be argued that the Afro-hairstyle which gained widespread acceptance and popularity especially by African Americans in the 1960’s and 1970’s served as a repudiation of Euro-centric beauty standards.
Barbers' Perspective
While the society can accept that colouring of one’s hair can and does serve as a possible distraction in a classroom setting, certainly there is nothing unacceptable for a student to have Afro hairstyle for school.  However, what say you of the Mohawk and Kid and Play hairstyles? I now share the views of two barbers on the subject matter. Oneil who has more than fifteen (15) years barbering experience said, “I disagree with those styles; you are going to school not a party”, he stated, “a low fade or all in one low”. Mr. Byfield is of the opinion that neither hairstyle is appropriate for school. “I don’t think neither of them should be worn in school because it’s a grown up hair cut that takes a lot of maintaining and expense to keep up with for them to be focusing on a hairstyle and not their school work”. He added, “because of the era and the fad that is wearing right now and most importantly the parents are not so hard on disciplining like back in the days when it comes to their kids, because frankly speaking most of them are kids themselves”. He ended by suggesting that in every business or organization there should be a grooming code to identify what is appropriate for work.    
A Consultative Approach
Notwithstanding this there comes a sense of responsibility for all those who benefit from these rights.  As a result there must be a broad based consultative approach to garner the opinions from all stakeholders before a final grooming policy is issued.  Additionally, any grooming policy that is put forward must be gender fair to both sexes, as well as address the issue of skin bleaching. The tendency is for educators and policy makers to place girls under more scrutiny than boys. Boys are allowed to get away with wearing tight, khaki pants and shirts, while our girls are compelled to follow the school rules regarding school uniform. One can only hope that any such policy will also speak to educational institutions which are non-government aided.  There was a lead story in Thursday’s Gleaner; January 18, 2018 regarding Holy Trinity High School. According to the news report the institution barred students from the campus because of lateness and breaches of the school’s dress code.  As a society we have lost our sense of appropriateness. We have failed our youngsters miserably by not passing on the morals which served us well. We are now reaping the effects of our collective abandonment of our responsibility to the youth. The fact is each educational institution is allowed the latitude to make up their own dress code; therefore it is very likely that what is acceptable for one school might not be appropriate for another. This is where the State through the Education Ministry needs to provide leadership.  It is also critical that the State put forward an inclusive grooming policy to include independent schools. Unfortunately, in too many instances privately schooled students are not given the same level of protection as students who attend public educational institution.  One recalls the incident in September of 2016 at a prominent preparatory school in St. Andrew where a child was denied entry to the school because of his mother’s refusal to cut his hair. The debate which ensued after divided the country and many at the time were of the opinion that the school’s stance on the matter was discriminatory and not in the best interest of the child.  No child should be denied an education because of the prejudice.    
The State has a huge responsibility in ensuring that all the barriers to education for our children are removed.  It is not the responsibility of the State to impose layers of various shapes and sizes in preventing access to education of the youth. We must never forget that education is a universal human right afforded to all.    
In the words of Monica Millner, “I feel that the kinks, curls, or tight coils in Afro hair is beautiful and unique. No other race on this planet has hair like ours that makes me proud”.  
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#Afro #education #sustainabledevelopment #school #hairstyles #Africa #society #culture #SDG’s #gender #beauty #dresscode #parents #Mohawk #values