Thursday, 24 December 2015

Text Language And The Education Sytem

Most of us in the Caribbean speak an English Creole as our first language.  Despite this, we are expected, and sometimes forced, to speak and write a standard form of English in formal situations, such as what occurs in the classroom. As a result, we are likely to learn a standard, Caribbean English as our second language. However, this process has become more challenging with the influence and interference of text language which has seeped into formal writing and expression. Text language is an abbreviated form of jargon and or vernacular which has gained acceptance by users of various social media platforms. It is widely utilized by users of cellular phones to communicate with each other. Some educators refer to the process of development which all second language learners experience as interlanguage. Interlanguage includes some forms of the second language, with a mixture of other structures from the first language as well as from environmental influences. Ever since the increase of Social Media, such as Twitter, WhastApp, Facebook and Instagram among others, many of our students have been using text language for academic purposes.  This development should be a cause for concern not only for educators, but the wider society since many students who regularly use text language will sooner or later not realize or know when to “draw the line” and conform to formal language.  The widespread usage of text language in formal communication and expression also serves as a barrier to communication. In many instances there is a disconnect between the intended message of the writer and how the reader interprets that message. The period of adolescence is a time of exploration.  However, our youngsters, for the most part have not fully yet developed their language competencies and therefore the flexibility with which adults can use both forms of the language is not afforded to them.  Additionally, text language has become trendy among teenagers, and at that phase of their development there is a strong will to feel a sense of belonging.   It bears thought that as a society, we need to revisit our efforts in safeguarding the language of our people in order to ensure that our youngsters are prepared to continue the journey toward sustainable development. With the proliferation of social media we might not be able to eradicate text language usage; however, we can slow its progression by making a conscious effort not to be a part of this new wave of short-handed communications method.
Wayne Campbell

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

World AIDS Day

December 1 is celebrated globally as World Aids Day. As in previous years this year the call to action is for an expansion of antiretroviral therapy to all people living with HIV which is the key to ending the AIDS epidemic within a generation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The day is also a way to demonstrate international solidarity for people living with HIV and to commemorate the spirit of those who have died battling the deadly disease. The theme for the 2015 “On the Fast Track to End AIDS”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) some 35 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, of this number 3. 2 million are children. Since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in 1981 some 39 million individuals have died. 
It is estimated that some 240,000 people in the Caribbean are living with HIV/AIDS. Jamaica has an estimated 32, 000 people living with HIV/AIDS. The Caribbean is second to Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of HIV prevalence. The WHO estimates that over seventy percent of those infected live in the Sub-Saharan region.
It is estimated that The Bahamas has the highest HIV prevalence in the Caribbean at 3.1 percent of its adult population, Trinidad and Tobago has a HIV prevalence rate of 1.5 percent of adult population and Jamaica’s HIV prevalence rate is 1.7 of its adult population.  The Caribbean like many other parts of the world continue to struggle with discrimination and stigma as it relates to those individuals who have been infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.  To some extent this stigma and discrimination is borne out of many misconceptions and myths surrounding the transmission of this virus. As a result many persons who are afflicted with this disease choose not to disclose their status with their partner/s and family members out of a fear of being rejected. The unwillingness among the wider society to show passion and kindness contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS.  It is this entrenched discrimination and an unforgiving culture that helps to fuels the spread of AIDS.  For many young Jamaicans who are embarking on their sexual journey it is very daunting for them to readily access condoms. 
We need to eradicate the stigma that is very much alive and pervasive in the Caribbean, particularly in Jamaica. We need to thoroughly examine the various messages that are being circulated especially within the popular culture, some of which are clearly negative. Probably, we need to use more of the popular culture art form to fight the harmful spirit of stigma and discrimination which is still an issue regarding HIV/AIDS.  The availability of antiretroviral drugs has contribution greatly to delay the progression from HIV to AIDS. In fact with advanced treatment individuals with HIV are almost at undetectable levels due to the breakthrough in medical science. Such treatment and medication have drastically improved the quality of the life for those living with AIDS. We now live in a time that with diet, exercise and medication (which is relatively expensive) an individual who is HIV positive can live well into his/her 70,s which was not possible some years ago. However, we should never let our guard down regarding HIV/AIDS; instead we should continue to educate the population using all available resources and media, including social media to promote a message of sexual responsibility and healthy lifestyle choices for all Jamaicans.  It is critical that we all know our HIV status, get tested today.
Wayne Campbell                                                                                                                      

Thursday, 26 November 2015

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Each year the United Nations commemorates November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women. Historically, women have been disadvantaged and in many societies women are treated as second class citizens. Too many Jamaican males see women's bodies as an entitlement for them to do as they wish. Disturbingly, too many women agree with this narrative. We need to critically examine our agents of socialization and find ways for men to see women as equals. The widespread availability of pornography especially among our boys have led to a distorted image of women. This has resulted in more women being at risk for abuse. The homophobic nature of the Jamaican society also contributes to some men becoming violent toward women to hide their sexual orientation and prove their masculinity to others.  Violence against women is wrong.    
·         Violence against women is a human rights violation
·         Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women
·         Violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security
·         Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential
·         Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic.
35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries.
  • An estimated 133 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation/cutting in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the harmful practice is most common.
  • Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children, 250 million of whom were married before the age of 15. Girls who marry before the age of 18 are less likely to complete their education and more likely to experience domestic violence and complications in childbirth.
  • The costs and consequence of violence against women last for generations.
In order for us to have sustainable development we must redouble our efforts to eliminate all acts of violence against our women. 


Thursday, 19 November 2015

International Men,s Day 2015

Today, November 19, the global community will commemorate International Men’s Day. However, in many societies the issues affecting boys and men are not being addressed in a meaningful manner. This is usually so because males are viewed as the stronger sex and are expected to be tough and as such work through their problems in the private sphere.
According to Jerome Teelucksingh, who conceptualized the day in 1999, International Men’s Day is about highlighting discrimination against men and boys, promoting gender equality and celebrating the contributions of men and boys to community and family.
The theme for this year’s IMD is “working to expand reproductive options for men”. It is expected that this year’s theme will encourage discussion on ways to enhance cooperation in addressing reproductive issues that affect men such as, safe sexual practices, family planning and sexual health.
According to the manual on Adolescent Reproductive Health Issues (August 2004) the mean age at which boys in Jamaica have their first sexual experience is 12.4 years. The same source added that by age eighteen years over 60 per cent of young men have had sexual intercourse.
Early sexual activity often leads to reproductive and health challenges in a significant number of males.  Adolescence is a period of sexual exploration and curiosity and in a number of instances (young) men enter sexual relations in order to prove their manhood usually without the use of contraceptive methods (condoms).
Boys for the most part are socialized to be rough and tough and unfortunately this gender stereotype runs counter to the notion of men seeking medical care and attention. As men we usually wait and wait until the pain has become unbearable and intolerable before we seek out medical care. This tendency certainly has negative implications for the quality of life for our men. A male who readily seeks medical attention is not viewed favourably by other males and indeed the wider society as this is not considered as manly or macho. As a result many men suffer in silence from various health issues, a significant part of this suffering also impacts the mental status of our men. Men are always the last to go and talk with a counsellor or psychiatrist because of pride and the male ego.  The issue of positive role models for our young men to emulate cannot be overstated. Positive male leadership is woefully lacking across all sectors of the Jamaican society. Our institutions of socialization, namely the school and church have failed our young men in terms of providing positive role models for our boys to emulate.
Our female dominated schools and classrooms provide very little avenue for our males to be mentored and or emulate male leadership.  With more and more families being headed by females there has been and continues to be the urgent need for men of good character and standing in the society to mentor our boys. A mother cannot teach her son how to be a man.
Promoting gender equality must include examining those specific issues affecting and impacting men separate and apart from those of women. Our boys continue to under-perform and under achieve at all levels of the education system in the society from the primary to the tertiary level.  Disturbingly this trend will likely continue for some time if it is that as a society are boys do not feel a sense of security and safety in the space they occupy and manoeuvre on a daily basis. 
We seriously need to revisit our national gender policy with the aim of ensuring that neither sex is being disadvantaged. On this very important day let us celebrate our collective masculinity while at the same time recognizing our differences as men. Let us recommit and regain our roles in our families as we work towards improving gender relations and promote unity in the Jamaican society.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.

Monday, 19 October 2015

More Awareness Required On Charter Of Rights

"Discrimination has a lot of layers that make it tough for minorities to get a leg up". Bill Gates
In light of the recommendation by the Office of the Public Defender that St. Hilda’s Diocesan High School reinstate Jade Bascoe as head girl after investigations revealed that her rights were infringed, it bear thought whether or not the rights of other Jamaican students have been abused in the past.
The education system has many minority groups. We live in a society where the voices of those who are labelled as different are rarely heard. Apart from Jehovah Witnesses we also have students who are Seventh Day Adventist and Rastafarians. Are the rights of those students being infringed upon regarding their involvement in sports or any other school related activity?
As far as I know, Sundays are not included in the regular scheduling of sporting events, such as, the Manning and daCosta Cup football competitions.
The Inter- Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) is also responsible for schoolboy basketball and cricket. These sporting events are not played on Sundays. As a result, boys who are desirous of playing football, cricket and basketball and who are Adventist will not be able to participate in those Saturday matches. Conversely, girls who play netball and are Adventists would be restricted from playing in Saturday games. Why is it that we cannot have Sundays as part of the regular schedule of play in order to have a more inclusive mix of all denominations and faith?
This is an area that the Inter- Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) should examine. ISSA is after all the governing body for inter- secondary school sporting events in Jamaica.
In addition some students may also be denied the opportunity to become head prefects or part of student government simply on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation. It is likely we may have a situation where a head prefect’s appointment is revoked because he/she does not speak Standard English, or on the basis of where he/she lives.
Are we mature enough as a society to promote a student who is a Rasta head boy or head girl of our church-owned high schools?
The education system should serve as a catalyst of change and not a remnant of historical biases to hinder the development of our students. Jamaica’s education system should foster a culture of tolerance and cooperation instead of hatred and intolerance. Disturbingly, many of us as Jamaicans are not aware of our Rights and this contribute greatly to our rights being trampled on. In the 150th anniversary year of the Morant Bay Rebellion, let us exhibit some of the courage of our forefathers and speak up for our rights as Jamaicans.
It would be such a great service to the nation if the Office of the Public Defender were to embark on a public information campaign to raise the awareness of Jamaicans regarding the Charter of Rights.  
In the words of the United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki- moon “defeating racism, tribalism, intolerance and all forms of discrimination will liberate us all, victim and perpetrator alike.

Wayne Campbell

Thursday, 15 October 2015

More Pressing Issues Than Length of Uniform

It is out of sheer ignorance that I pen this letter to enquire of my learned colleagues to share with me and the wider society any research in any discipline where there is a co-relation between female students wearing long uniforms and increase educational outcomes. For all practical purposes having a skirt 11 inches below one’s knee is not practical on many grounds. In the first instance the fabric of many school uniform is made from polyester gabardine and with a tropical marine climate such as that of Jamaica these uniforms become extremely hot during the course of the day. Let us be reminded that for the most part Jamaican classrooms are not air-conditioned.
Secondly, why should female students be forced to wear formal wear to school? Yes, formal wear. The length of some of these uniforms mimics those of haute couture gowns which are only worn to formal occasions. Having an uniform eleven inches below the one,s knee has nothing to do with education. We need to ask ourselves the question are we serious about providing our students with an education, or are we into the creating more distractions with already plague the Jamaican education system.
The education system is beset by problems such as bullying, which oftentimes goes unreported in many instances or in some cases students dispense their own justice after the failure of many schools to address same. The issue of school violence urgently needs to addressed. Schools are no longer safe places of learning but, instead, battlefields where only the fittest survive. Data from the Ministry of Education put the matter in perspective: For the period 2011 to 2013, a total of 1,288 violent incidents were recorded in the nation's schools. These included robberies, fights and three deaths.
The continued under achievement and under participation of our males urgently needs be addressed if Jamaica hope to have sustainable development. Sustainable development cannot be achieved if one sex is marginalized. The exodus of our teachers of Mathematics in such of better working conditions and remuneration needs urgent attention.  Given that Mathematics is a critical pillar of the  Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme, our policy makers should be looking to address these vital issues than spending man power and other resources to  suspend female students whose uniforms do not meet the required 11 inches below the knee rule. Until one of these female students trip over the ridiculous length of their uniform and suffer some serious injury resulting in the parents or guardians suing the school only then will common sense prevail. As a society we continue to major in the minor issues with our myopic view of social issues in a globalized context.

Wayne Campbell

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Arrest the Exodus of Mathematics Teachers

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Malcolm X
There is a currently an advertisement on local television which is endorsed by the Ministry of Education which uses popular comedians Icy and Fancy Fat to highlight the importance of mathematics education in the general society. However, while this is commendable given the general fear of mathematics that a significant number of Jamaican students have this has done very little to curb the high attribution rate of teachers of Mathematics across the island.
Given the low remuneration of teachers, and the general poor working conditions those teachers who specialize in Mathematics education are in high demand and are being enticed to leave the noble profession. Additionally, the high levels of indiscipline among students in which teachers have been verbally and physically abused is also another factor which is contributing to the exodus of teachers of Mathematics especially to more lucrative paying jobs both locally and overseas. One cannot lay blame on those teachers who leave the profession for better opportunities since maths counts and at the end of the day we all are desirous of living a comfortable life.
According to Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites, some 70 mathematics and science teachers have exited Jamaican classrooms since January, with the number expected to increase. The numbers speaks to the gravity of the problem we face regarding our inability to retain teachers of Mathematics and Science.  In most instances those teachers who have left the classroom/profession are among the most experienced and brightest. As a society we tend to be reactive instead of proactive. We should have put measures in place a long time ago to address this long standing problem. This is certainly not a new issue, and by not giving it the full attention it deserves the problem has only gotten worse.
According to Dr. Chance Lewis of the University of North Carolina- Charlotte, between 60 t0 70 percentages of black male teachers leave the profession after three years. He added that those males who remain after three years are usually promoted to vice principals and or principals.  The exodus of teachers of Mathematics from our schools should be a cause of grave concern for the Ministry of Education, as well as other stakeholders especially since the Education Ministry is pushing ahead with its Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme across the island. STEM cannot be realized without a cohort of experienced and dedicated teachers of Mathematics.
The plight of Jamaicans fear of Mathematics is highlighted in the data from the education ministry which shows that performance in the 2015 Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) in mathematics declined some 3.7 per cent. Additionally, the decline in students' performances in mathematics-related subjects in the 2015 CAPE results was even worse, as there was a 5.4 percentage point decrease in the average pass rate for combined units of pure mathematics and a 10.1 percentage point decline in applied mathematics. This is unacceptable if we hope to have a first world status any time soon.
A number of principals have expressed concerned and rightly so regarding the implications this exodus of Mathematics teachers as well teachers of mathematics related subjects will have on external examinations and for the future development of the country.
As a society we are going to pay dearly if creative measures are not arrived at and implemented in an attempt to reverse the trend of the exodus of our teachers of Mathematics.    
In the words of Nelson Mandela education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
#education #development #teachers #migration #Jamaica
Wayne Campbell

Monday, 12 October 2015

Violence in the Classroom- A Personal Account

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself-John Dewey
School safety is the foundation on which the teaching and learning process is embedded. Jamaica has had and continues to have a serious problem with crime and violence. We live in a violent society and the violence we experience daily has slowly crept into our schools and classrooms. Many Jamaicans have had to install surveillance cameras and grills in their homes to give them an added level of protection and peace of mind in the midst of the growing levels of violence. Notwithstanding this, our schools and by extension our classrooms have not been immune to what happens in the wider society where crime and violence is ever increasing. On Tuesday, October 6, 2015 my life changed in a drastic way. At approximately 1 pm I was in a grade 9 class teaching. During the lesson I was hit in my left ear by an object which based on where I was standing was fired from a student from the class. My back was turned to the class since I was writing on the chalkboard. When I asked who fired the object which later turned out to be a toy gun no one claimed responsibility. However, I saw a male student with the toy gun in his hands when I turned around to face the class. He was later identified by other students of the class as the one responsible for firing the toy gun. Within minutes of the incident occurring I made a report to the grade nine supervisor. I had to seek medical attention the following day, Wednesday, October 7, 2015 due to the severe pain and discomfort I was experiencing. An examination by the doctor revealed an abrasion to my left ear. I am still experiencing pain and discomfort in my left ear as a result of the injury sustained. I am not sure whether this injury to my ear will have any long term effects. I am hoping and praying that it does not. On my return to work on Monday, October 12, 2015  I handed the principal a written report of the incident. The principal immediately sent for the student. I feel a sense of violation. I am extremely upset. This was an intentional act of violence. However, I am comforted by the fact that a few of the students of the class have expressed their disgust with their classmate behavior. They have also expressed deep sorrow for what happened to me on the afternoon of October 6, 2015. Yet, each time I go to a classroom and turn my back to write on the chalkboard I get anxious not knowing if I will become target practice for some student.
Schools are to be safe zones for both students and teachers. I did not expect that my own students would have harmed me in this way. Added to this personal injury is the culture of silence which is pervasive in the wider Jamaican society. A number of students in the class knew who the culprit was who fired the toy gun, however, maybe out of fear they were unwilling at the time of the incident to disclose his name.
During the same week of October 5, 2015 a male student of Brown's Town High School was stabbed to death on the school's campus by another male student. Two more Jamaican male students have had their education disrupted by violence. One is dead and the other is in police custody. What happened at Brown's Town High School on Thursday has an all-too-familiar ring, as more and more violent encounters are recorded in our school community. The latest victim is a Jamala Barnaby, a grade-11 student of Brown's Town High. The news could have been worse because three other students were injured in another incident in Spanish Town earlier this week. Disturbingly, when these incidents occur, one is tempted to conclude that schools are no longer safe places of  teaching and learning but, instead, battlefields. Data from the Ministry of Education reinforces the gravity of the situation regarding security and safety our schools are facing. For the period 2011 to 2013, a total of 1,288 violent incidents were recorded in the nation's schools. These included robberies, fights and 3 deaths.
The classroom has become a battle ground where a toxic and crude version of masculinity exists which robs our male students of their full potential. This toxic notion of masculinity is played out daily in the interaction our men have with women, as well as male to male interaction. Alarmingly, not much is being done to curb this unacceptable behaviour. We need to act now to change this narrative. Our schools must return to safe zones for all stakeholders. The state and school must be responsible for the safety of all teachers and students while they are at school. There needs to be some form of compensation for teachers who are injured on the job. This is certainly an area that the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) could and need to explore. There should be some insurance for teachers to access who are injured by students while on the job. It cannot be business as usual. This is what is so wrong with Jamaica. Jamaica's education system lack accountability at all levels and until measures are put in place we can expect to have more incidence of violence in our schools. 
I am still awaiting some form of justice. School safety is the most critical pillar of the teaching and learning experience. If our teachers do not feel safe, they cannot be as effective as they ought to in the classroom. Conversely, if our students do not feel safe, they cannot learn. I hope that my personal account serves as a catalyst or call to action for the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders in education to work assiduously to ensure that our schools develop a zero-tolerance approach against violence in any form or shape. Clearly much more resources are required. Some schools needs more scaffolding than others regarding school safety. I have forgiven the student who attacked me. I hope he gets the help that he needs to turn his life around. 
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong".
#schoolsafety #education #violence #occupationalsafety #security #parenting #classroom #crime #pain #suffering

Monday, 7 September 2015

A New Approach To Education-Waldorf Model

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Aristotle.
The hustle and bustle associated with a new academic year is here. However, to a great extent the 2015/2016 academic year will commence similar to previous years beset by a myriad of fixable problems. It bears thought that, as a society we have become satisfied with mediocrity as this is evident with our continuation in celebrating pockets of excellence scattered across all fourteen parishes, three counties and six regions of Jamaica’s education system.  Disturbingly, there has been a gradual decrease in our pockets of excellence. This is unacceptable and clearly indicates that we need to become proactive in order to improve Jamaica’s education system.
The gravity of Jamaica’s education system is documented in the 2014 National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report which stated that more than sixty per cent (60%) of the country’s primary and secondary schools are failing in their education delivery to the nation’s children. As a result more and more of our students continue to leave high school unprepared for the world of work or unable to matriculate to tertiary. This feeds Jamaica’s youth employment rate of 33.3(%) per cent. Clearly, this is a recipe for crime.
The genesis of the phenomenon of failing schools in the society lies with poor leadership and a culture of unaccountability which has been pervasive. Sadly, too many of our school administrators are merely perfunctory leaders without the zeal and zest for human capacity formation. Added to this dilemma is the fact that we have a relatively weak middle management structure of senior teachers across most schools. According to Dr. Renee Rattrary, director of education programmes at the Jamaica National Foundation, “many of the middle managers are promoted to positions of seniority without adequate preparation”. This is clearly a flaw in our education system and needs to be remedied. There needs to be on the job training and workshops for those who are selected as senior teachers. Probably we need to examine how senior teachers are promoted in the first instance. It is an open secret that the promotion of senior teachers is based largely on the fancy of school administrators. In many instances senior teachers are lacking the area of professionalism and many lack integrity and therefore are poor examples for their junior colleagues. This practice continues to frustrate the education system. The continued practice of principals’ pets becoming senior teachers is driving many talented and young teachers from the classroom.    
Our policy makers and educators need to keep abreast of best practices and teaching trends elsewhere. It is rather troubling that a significant number of our student are leaving high schools without the necessary skills set to critically analyze situations and arrive at solutions.
Jamaica could benefit by examining a different educational model such as the Waldorf Education which was founded by Austrian born, Rudolf Steiner, who was an educator, scientist and philosopher.
Waldorf education is based on an understanding that the key to developing problem solving skills for the 21st century is an active imagination and a commitment to pursuing one’s purpose in life. The Waldorf curriculum carefully balances academic, artistic, and practical activities to stimulate the imagination and prepare the students for life. Rather than relying on rote memorization of standardized information, Waldorf education seeks to engage the whole child in the learning process. Our students need to view education as a seamless patchwork connecting all subjects instead of compartmentalizing the offering of the various subjects.
With the Waldorf model every subject is taught artistically, using movement, drawing, painting,

music, storytelling, and rhythm, teachers bring the material to life and endow the developing child

with a lifelong sense of wonder and a joy of learning. Whether our students become anthropologists

or police officers, mathematicians or musicians, the creative capacities developed through a

Waldorf education will give students the foundation they require to be successful and adapt to

changing circumstances.

Interestingly once you enter a Waldorf school it is obvious of the care given to the school plant. The walls are usually painted in lively colours and adorned with student artwork.
As a society we have paid little attention to the colour schemes of our schools despite the research that highlights benefits that bright and lively colour have on the teaching/learning process.
Clearly, the Waldorf approach to education is student-centered and this serves to empower and motivate students as well assist in their capacity to develop a yearning for lifelong learning.
Teachers using this model exhibit much enthusiasm as teaching is presented in a pictorial and dynamic manner. This approach reduces the need for competitive testing. The Waldorf curriculum is broad and all encompassing covering three phases: from birth to age seven, from age seven to fourteen years and from fourteen to age eighteen. We need to find a mixture of educational models that best fit the complexities of Jamaica’s educational landscape. This model must be consultative in scope and nature and must involved all stakeholders. 
One important stakeholder whom we must have on board is that of our parents. Our parents must become more involved in their children’s education. Data show that parents who spend quality time to monitor and offer support to their children school are rewarded by better returns on their investment. The ongoing gang violence in some areas will undoubtedly impact negatively on schools located in and around the vicinity. Those schools will require much support from the Education Ministry for their staff and especially for those traumatized students. We can only hope that the Ministry of Education will be proactive and put in place the necessary support systems to facilitate a smooth opening of the new school year.  We are at a critical juncture in our development especially as Jamaica celebrated 53 years of political independence. A well educated and skilled workforce is vital for us to have sustainable development as well as in order to pull ourselves out of the economic crisis we find ourselves. All hands are needed on deck to turn around Jamaica’s pocket of excellence to a widespread increase in the delivery of educational outcomes regardless of school. We are all accountable to the children of Jamaica. Let us draw inspiration from our athletes this academic year who recently competed at the 15th IAAF World Championship. It takes a team effort, dedication and commitment to reap success.
“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Malcolm X
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Customer Service

Customer service is an extremely important part of maintaining on-going client relationships. It is critical to foster and maintain a healthy client relationship in order to grow one's revenue. For the most part the Jamaican society has seen a gradually improvement in customer service. However, as consumers we must and should demand more from our service providers in exchange for spending our hard earned cash at their place of business. We tend to forget that the time we wait to be served is also apart of customer service. We should be reminded that as consumers we also determine the quality of consumer service we receive. Too often we do not register our dissatisfaction with poor customer service. We need to register our disgust by boycotting those business establishment which offer customer service. A significant number of our doctors are guilty of this. In too many instances multiple patients are given almost identical appointment times. This practice leads to the frustration of patients. We need to move away from this bad practice. Instead, we should be moving towards a general level of satisfactory consumer service across all our industries.
As consumers we must hold our service providers more accountable and in so doing this will improve customer service. Good consumer service still exists.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Christ,s Sacrifice For the Ungodly

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans chapter 5 verses 6-8

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Establish Teacher Exchange Programme With Other Nations

Over the years much praise has been bestowed upon Jamaica’s education system and its standing in the global community. This fact has been highlighted by the numerous educational institutions which have recruited Jamaican teachers.
Many countries have instituted an exchange programme whereby teachers are given the opportunity to travel and gain immeasurable experience over a specific time period. The time has come for us as a society to at least examine the possibility and probability for the education ministry to engage and consult with various agencies such as embassies, and consulates based in Jamaica.
We need to come to the realization that such an exchange programme can bring much needed benefits to Jamaica in the areas of technology transfer, best teaching practices and cultural exchange. The Jamaican student deserves the very best, especially in this digital and highly competitive community, therefore we must explore and be mindful of every possibility that afforded to us to enhance the teaching and learning process.

Wayne Campbell

Monday, 24 August 2015

Include Gender Balance in Education Planning

The gender factor is oftentimes overlooked by many organizations involved in research and development in the society. In fact gender and development specialists are usually not taken seriously in many developing societies. This is a retrograde and myopic attitude which requires a new approach regarding how we plan for our people and the future.
With the start of the new school only two weeks away the Ministry of Education has a grand opportunity to lead in this regard. The time has come for us to do more gender based research using specialists in the field. This is especially important since educational institutions operate on a gendered system, and as such expectations are different for both sexes. The 2015 ranking of secondary schools in Jamaica clearly highlights the troubling reality of the inequalities in the education system along gendered lines. Of the top ten best performing schools according the percentage of passes in the core subject areas of Mathematics and English Language in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examination seven schools are single sex all girls schools.
Research in Gender Studies reveals that we are not where we ought to be in terms of gender fairness. Gender fairness applies to having a balance and comprehensive portrayal of both men and men to any textbook. In many instances girls are not portrayed as scientists and other high skilled occupations. The society loses out on a potential pool of talent and skills because of gender-related stereotypes which places restrictions on career choices for girls. The Ministry of Education needs to take the lead in this regard, by employing education officers with the relevant experience and qualification to oversee the change that is necessary to ensure that those books approved by the ministry gives a balanced representation of both sexes.  We currently have Education Officers in charge of different subject areas; we now need to have gender based education officers who will be able to assist the ministry with developing policies, plans and programmes to address male under-achievement and under-representation, as well as to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of promoting gender equality and empowering girls/women. Girls' education is critically linked to self-determination, improved health, social and economic status, as well as positive health outcomes for the mother and the child. Yet, girls still account for 55% of the out-of-school population.  We will never have sustainable development if we continue to exclude gender or minimize the impact of gender in planning and development.

Gender Roles

Wayne Campbell

Saturday, 15 August 2015

We Require More Information On Our Doctors

In some jurisdictions information regarding a doctor’s training and experience is readily available. While it is true that the Medical Council of Jamaica has a registry of doctors who are licensed to practice locally, there is no database which tells the public of specializations of doctors beyond their basic training. Doctors in Jamaica are licensed on their basic qualifications to practice medicine. However, the fact is a significant number of doctors pursue post graduate studies and this should be reflected by the Medical Council of Jamaica’s registry. The doctors’ registry should also include the success rate percentage of specialist doctors. The Medical Council of Jamaica should look into this urgently with the possibility of moving towards this best practice. This would undoubtedly provide more detailed and useful information for Jamaicans to make a more informed choice regarding their specialized medical care practitioner.

Wayne Campbell

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Teach Ethics In Fight Against Corruption

Corruption is arguably the biggest threat to any country’s long term survival and development.
The current scandal plaguing Petrobras, Brazil,s state oil company should be a lesson for all of us.
Since the scandal broke more than 100 politicians, business executives and public figures have been indicted in the on-going corruption case at Petrobras. The corruption took place in the guise of a kickback scheme involving Rolex watches, yachts, helicopters and prostitutes, money. The state oil company was overcharged by corrupt officials under a fake competition plan. It is alleged that Brazil’s ruling party pocketed over $200million which was then used to finance political campaigns.
The time has come for Jamaica to develop a national school initiative to teach Ethics and anti-corruption principles in our schools. We must make every effort to target our young people before they are overtaken by this culture of corruption. Ethics should be introduced as a separate subject in the curriculum. This subject should be mandatory for all students at the secondary level of the education system.
We need to work effortlessly to reverse our culture of bribery, falsification and get rich quick mentality to save Jamaica.

Wayne Campbell

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Schools Demand Visible Principals

With the start of each academic year we must be reminded that leadership can make or break any school.  Inspired leadership is at the genesis of the positive transformation of the Denbigh Town High, which was only upgraded to a high school a few years ago and has since become a school of choice in Clarendon. Sadly, this best practice is not being replicated throughout the education system; hence we are left with only pockets of excellence. With the start of any academic year there is always much expectation. Conversely, we are still being haunted by the 2014 National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report which stated that sixty (60%) per cent of Jamaica’s primary and secondary schools are failing in their education delivery to the nation’s children. This is unacceptable, and we must all work together to fix the ailing education system.
To a great extent our non-performing schools rest with the poor and weak leadership exhibit by a significant number of principals. There are many challenges for those in positions of principalship, but there are also many opportunities. Disturbingly, in many of our schools there is a poisonous relationship between principals and the academic and support staffs which inevitably affect the teaching and learning process. According to Michael Hooker, principal of Wentworth Falls Public School, “if principals are to move from managing into education leadership, then respectful, positive working relationships are a must”. We should not underestimate the importance of principals who are highly and regularly visible within their school. A principal builds trust, credibility and earns the respect of his/her staff by being visible.   
A principal must be viewed as being approachable and fair-minded by all stakeholders. Research shows that students value seeing their principals in different situations around the school. Our students need to see their principals walking the school grounds daily. Our students need to feel the principals’ presence. Our principals must walk the corridors of the school, as well as the hide out spots. Our principals must set the tone for our schools. Principals must be guided by the principle that schools are there to prepare students for their future especially as we enter our 54th year of political independence. It’s a no brainer! Non –performing schools usually have a weak top and middle management in place.
Wayne Campbell

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Proverbs chapter 19 verse 21

Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Reconnect to Emancipation History

Emancipation Day 2015 is now beyond us. However, by now we would have realized that there is a disconnect between the historical significance of the day and most Jamaicans. Interestingly, this is not the case in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago where Emancipation Day is also observed. This lack of attachment to Emancipation Day is not surprising since the teaching of History; specifically, West Indian History is optional in many of our secondary schools. The teaching of History should be compulsory for at least the first three years of high school in order to raise awareness and foster a sense of identity and pride regarding Emancipation Day, as well as other cultural significant days. In fact, we should give history the same attention as the core subjects of Mathematics and English Language in the curriculum instead of viewing the subject as an afterthought or add on.
Disturbingly, not only is the spirit of Emancipation Day dying, but also the awareness of our young people regarding where they are in the human story. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s development. There is hardly any indigenous Jamaican culture anymore due to the intense cultural penetration from North America which we have gladly embraced.  We have become culturally unbalanced as a people.
It appears as if Emancipation Day is being treated like a step child who no one really wants but who is tolerated to some extent. This attitude is unacceptable especially for a country whose population is over ninety per cent of African descent.
We need to redouble our efforts at empowering the people of Jamaica, especially the youth population by infusing in the school’s syllabus and educating our students about their past in order for them to successful navigate a bright future.
In the words of Marcus Garvey, a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Wayne Campbell

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Protect The Defenceless And The Voiceless

Every country must join together to overcome this transnational threat by supporting and protecting victims while pursuing and prosecuting the criminals- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Trafficking in persons is a significant crime and a grave violation of human rights. Trafficking is often overlooked by many countries since this scourge tend to happen to those who are defenceless and voiceless in the society.
Each year human traffickers become more creative in luring men, women and children into this multi-billion industry. Disturbingly, the very young are at particular risk, especially our girls since it is estimated that twenty one per cent (21%) of all trafficked persons are girls. Most if not all of these trafficked girls often end up as sex slaves across all regions of the world. 
The promise of a better life, low self-esteem and little or no family support is usually at the genesis explaining the relative ease our young and vulnerable people are caught up in a life of forced labour including prostitution. .
According to the United Nations more than 2.5 million people are trapped in modern-day slavery. Alarmingly, human trafficking is often done in the open and conducted by those we least expect to be involved.
In 2010, the United Nations, General Assembly adopted the Global Plan of Action to combat trafficking in persons, urging governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat this scourge.
On this World Day (July 30) against Trafficking in Persons governments worldwide must re-double their efforts to eradicate this form of modern day slavery. In spite of the economic constraints we are currently experiencing more resources must be found to effectively tackle those who trade in human beings.  Human trafficking has no place in a modern day society, and as such we must do more to empower our women and children especially in order to keep them safe and ensure our future as a progressive society.
Wayne Campbell

Monday, 27 July 2015

Bipartisan Approach Needed in Fighting Crime

It is rather sad and disappointing that as a society the Jamaican state is not united on any national issue. Successive governments over the years have failed the people miserably in providing adequate security and protection for its citizens. Regardless of the political party one supports, the effect and impact of crime is the same on all of us. Crime has a crippling effect on the psyche of a people and nation. In fact, crime and violence if not brought under control quickly will contribute greatly to the demise of this nation. Our economic success is intricately hinged on us having a manageable level of crime and violence.
Recently, we were shocked out of our wits upon hearing that there were seven murders in St. James over a 24 hours period. On average the Jamaican state has over 1, 000 murders yearly.  For the period 2009 and 2014 more than 7,000 Jamaicans were murdered. This is unacceptable and a consensus involving both the government and the Opposition is required.  A wider consultative approach is also needed involving civil society to include the Church, trade unions, dancehall and reggae artiste etc.
Women, children and men are being murdered in the killing frenzy now stalking the land. Health centres have had to be closed due to on-going violence in some areas. Economic, social and religious activities are being severely impacted and people are afraid, very afraid.
It appears that there is an association between male underachievement and crime. Too many of our boys continue to fall through the cracks of the education system. With no skills, or no or few subjects, many of our young men are drawn into a life of crime. It cannot be a coincidence that most victims and perpetrators of crime and violence are males, given that Jamaica’s population is roughly balanced regarding male and females. 
Regardless of the root cause for Jamaica’s frightening murder rate one thing is certain much more needs to be done to curb and decrease the runaway murder rate. The current measures in places are not a deterrent to stop these murders. We are a divided nation and the prospects for us are not encouraging if we continue along the same path. 
Wayne Campbell

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Let Us Magnify The LORD


Today's Scripture: “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.”...
(Psalm 34:3, KJV)

"Come lets magnify the Lord for He's worthy to be praised." Something powerful happens inside when you magnify the Lord. When you magnify God, you aren’t changing Him; you are changing the way you see Him. You are making God the center of your life rather than your problems and circumstances.
So many people today waste time and energy talking about their problems and feeling sorry for themselves. That’s because they are magnifying their circumstances in their own mind and heart. But when you start magnifying the Lord by talking about Him and worshiping Him, you are making Him the main priority in your life and opening the door for Him to move on your behalf. Today will you choose to magnify God regardless of what’s going on in your life or around you. Talk about His goodness. Talk about His faithfulness. "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
(I Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV) Declare that He is working behind the scenes on your behalf. Exalt His name today and lift Him up and see His hand of blessing in every area of your life.
Heavenly Father, today I choose to magnify and exalt You. I worship You Lord, I lift Your name on high, I bless Your most high and Holy name because You are worthy to be praised. You are faithful and good. Help me to keep my heart and mind focused on You all the days of my life in Jesus’ name. Amen. Greetings family and friends think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive -to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” Have a blessed Sunday.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Black Masculinity

Black masculinity and identity are usually judged in terms of one's language and mannerism by those of your own race as well as by others. We should not treat people differently because of our own biases and insecurities. Instead, we need to take the time to get to know that individual whom we believe is strange and different. It is not our job to judge another. Be a friend to someone today.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Schoolboy Beating And Gender Inequality

The recent beating of a 13 year old schoolboy of Yallahs High School in St. Thomas by four girls has come and gone without much ire from civil society.
We live in a society where double standards regarding how we treat the sexes are pervasive and oftentimes blurred. What if the opposite had happened where four boys had beaten a girl?  We can be sure that the society would have been outraged and demanding for some type of punishment for the culprits involved? We still hold unto our traditionally gender roles which says males should be tough and assertive and females should be passive and fragile. The perceived problem occurs when these gender roles are crossed and we become unsure how to treat the individual. Clearly this youngster did not fit into the hegemonic notion of masculinity hence he was targeted by these girls.
School bullying in any form, and committed by any sex, is unacceptable and should be punished to the full extent of the law and the authorities. The Ministry of Education needs to be more forceful regarding the enforcement of an anti-bullying policy for all schools. Too many cases of bullying occur daily in our schools, and sadly, too many of them go unreported. 
The young man beaten will undoubtedly suffer great emotional and psychological distress for a long time to come. He was emasculated, ridiculed and beaten. Disturbingly, we live in a society where there are no support groups for males who suffer abuse. During the discourse on gender relations, very often it is difficult to find support groups for men and boys. We tend to forget that gender equality speaks to men’s issues as well as to women’s.
The time has become for us to pay as much attention to abused boys as we do abused girls.  Gender equality must be all encompassing in order to have sustainable development and to benefit both sexes.

Wayne Campbell

Monday, 29 June 2015

Community Safety

The time has come for Jamaican housing developers to include a police post as part of the basic amenities when constructing housing schemes of a particular size. Purchasing a home is arguably the single most expensive investment an individual will make during his/her lifetime. It is quite reasonable to expect some level of security and safety after such an investment.  The recent horror stories of rape and robbery at Longville Park Housing Scheme in Clarendon has once again highlighted how vulnerable and helpless we are as citizens against the scourge of crime and violence in the society.
Additionally, the National Housing Trust (NHT) also has a part to play in ensuring the safety and security of the residents. Many residents of Longville Phase 3 have reported that the NHT constructed the windows of their homes with plastic. According to residents the plastic windows serves as an entry point for criminals to access their homes. We know the society we live in and to have made windows with plastic was not too clever to begin with. We should not cut cost at the expense of one’s safety.  The residents of Longville are asking calling for a perimeter fencing to be constructed around the housing development.
We can only hope that this terrible experience will be a learning moment for all the stakeholders involved.
Wayne Campbell

Friday, 19 June 2015

Increase Social Media Use in Schools

The nation is now in a post Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) frame of mind. The results of the 2015 (GSAT) are now available and our students are about to embark on post primary studies.
As expected, some students are happy to have been placed at their school of choice, while others who fall in the minority twenty five per cent are wondering what went wrong why they were zoned.
We are very much aware that some of the high schools in Jamaica are more sought after than others. This is predominantly due to the public perception, effective management, as well as the schools track record.
Regardless of which school you are placed at life goes on and you can bloom wherever you find yourself once you apply yourself and remain focused with the help of parents and guardians. 
For the most part our schools have not done a very good job ats promoting their strengths to the general public especially during an era of social media. An added benefit of using social media is that schools have the opportunity to reinforce their ‘brands’. We tend to associate branding in the world of business, however, social media, such as, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook can be creatively used by our educational institutions to highlight to the public the diverse and enriched programmes unique to each school. Social networking is the new way to communicate.
Our schools need to incorporate more of the available social media technology to communicate with parents and guardians and students. Social networking continues to capture the imagination of many across the world. Interestingly, even those students who have learning disorders and whom we label as slow learners can become fascinated by and learn from the expertise associated with social media.
The fact is many of our parents and students are already using and sharing on social media sites. The time is now for us to be innovative and capture our students’ attention by using more of social media which will undoubtedly benefit our schools and students.
As a society we must do more to ensure that all our children learn regardless of socio-economic background and school attended.

Wayne Campbell