Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Towards A Modern Approach To Development

According to the World Bank, in 2011, seventeen per cent (17%) of the people in the developing world lived at or below $1.25US a day. This means that 1.4 billion people or twenty one per cent (21%) of the world’s population live in extreme poverty. Undoubtedly, the fight against poverty and gender inequality requires multiple approaches involving government and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s). Recently, there has been an increase in the number of countries investing heavily in social protection programmes to address the needs of the most susceptible in their societies. As a result of such investments in conditional cash transfers, cash grants from the government to poor household in exchange for sending their children to school and for regular health check up there has been an improvement in the standard of living for many families. For example, in The Philippines conditional cash transfer has reached 4.4 million families and has made a significant change in the quality of life they now enjoy. In Jamaica, the social safety net programme is administered generally through the Programme for Advancement through Health and Education (PATH). It is estimated that since its inception in 2002, the PATH programme has transformed the lives of more than 400,000 Jamaicans. Additionally, there is also the National Health Fund (NHF), which provides assistance to Jamaicans to purchase specific prescription drugs used in the treatment and management of selected chronic illness.  There are five broad categories of beneficiaries for the NHF benefits. These are children from birth to completion of secondary education, elderly, 60 years and over and not in receipt of a pension, persons with disabilities, pregnant and lactating women and poor adults 18-59 years. The National Health Fund also administers the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) which provides a specific list of prescription drugs free of cost to elderly Jamaicans sixty years and over.  According to the 2012 Survey of Living Conditions published by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) more than 500,000 Jamaicans or one out of every five Jamaicans lives below the poverty line. The statistics clearly indicate how important such a social safety net programme is for Jamaica in terms of transforming the economic and social well being of citizens. It can be argued that a country cannot progress without making the requisite investments in their human capital. Governments must view social safety net programmes as a tool for development both for urban as well as for rural development.  Historically, development programmes institutionalize male power and privilege; however, we need to interrogate this patriarchal approach. A recent World Bank report indicates that rising incomes can counter gender inequality. When incomes go up, fertility rates fall which facilitate more women to participate in the workforce. We must therefore welcome this relative new shift in gender and development which posit the view that women’s invisibility and economic worth must be taken into account in a country’s economic output.
GENDER EQUALITY
The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by advancing women’s equality could add US&12 trillion to the world’s yearly gross domestic product over the next decade.  Regrettably, the tendency is for developmental policies to marginalize women’s specific conditions and needs by adhering to the belief of women’s inferiority. Countless women have suffered globally through the patriarchal structures and policies which have rendered them as second class citizens.
Gender as a social indicator must be seen as a critical pillar of development in which women are integrated more into the process. We need to move away from the top down, urban centered approach to development which unfortunately many governments still subscribed to. There is an urgent need to incorporate more gender sensitive policies in the development progress to benefit all our people.  A process of gender analysis is essential since it is only through an integration of gender into development that we can truly better understand the realities of both sexes and provide by policy makers which the tools necessary to overcome inefficient resource allocation to encourage a holistic approach to development. Jamaica stands at a critical juncture as the country moves to achieve its 20/30 vision of making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. However, in order to realize this we must redouble our efforts to eradicate poverty and move towards and embrace a paradigm shift in which gender and development (GAD). As we approach the new year let us emphasize more on gender and development as active contributors to development planning and action as we  encourage more women to participate equally in the decision making process at all levels of the society. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “as long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Friday, 23 December 2016

Disability is Not An Obstacle to Success

"Disability is not an obstacle to success”. –Stephen Hawking

According to a World Bank Report one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience

some form of disability. The report also added that disability prevalence is higher for developing

countries. In Jamaica approximately 200,000 Jamaicans live with a disability as stated by the same

source. Persons with disabilities, on average as a group, are more likely to experience adverse

socioeconomic outcomes than persons without disabilities, such as less education, poorer health
outcomes, lower levels of employment, and higher poverty rates. I met a most remarkable young lady last Saturday She was visually impaired but was in high spirits and bubbling with energy and positive vibes. Tamika was born sighted but unfortunately lost sight in both eyes at age 22.  In spite of her disability, she is a positive, industrious mother of 5 and was all too willing to share a bit of her story some of which was rather personal and almost moved me to tears. Until you have interacted with a blind person you really do not know what it is to be discriminated against, laughed at and ignored. During our conversation Tamika spoke intensely about the lack of awareness in the wider Jamaican society regarding the plight and concerns of members of the disabled community, especially those who are blind. She recalled painfully of being let off at the wrong bus stop on numerous occasions by Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus drivers even after telling the drivers where she would like to disembark upon entering the bus. She added that in most instances those incidents took place at nights in areas which are lonely and unsafe. She was left alone only with the mercy of God to navigate her way back to where she wanted to go. As a result of those negative and traumatic experiences Tamika is now fearful of taking the Jamaica Urban Transit Corporation (JUTC) and one can clearly understand why.   
Tamika is encouraging the government to embark on a public education campaign to highlight the issues which the disabled community encounters almost on a daily basis.  Tamika’s voice became almost inaudible when she told of instances in which blind persons have had their canes kicked away and stepped on by able- bodied members of the society. She spoke of the struggles of the blind in the society specifically in rural areas where they oftentimes remain at home out of fear of being ridiculed, wasting away as their talents go unused. It bears thought that as a society we cannot achieve sustainable development if we continue to exclude a sizeable section of the society.
Sustainable Development Goals
In fact the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) addresses all three dimensions of sustainable development which are (environmental, economic and social). Disability is referenced in various sections of the SDG’s and specifically to parts related to education, growth, employment, inequality and accessibility of human settlements. For example, goal 4, speaks to inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all focuses on eliminating gender disparities in education and ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities. Goal 8 of the SDG’s speaks to the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, the international community aims to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. Additionally, goal 10 of the SDG’s addresses inequality within and among countries by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities. Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals aims at making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable. To realize this goal, member states are called upon to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, such as persons with disabilities and finally Goal 17 speaks to reliable data that is also disaggregated by disability. Tamika was quite fortunate to have left rural Jamaica and came to Kingston to live where she completed HEART/ Level 3 training in her chosen field. She was extremely passionate in sharing what she considered insensitive and uncaring remarks hurdled at her when she became pregnant by a number of persons who questioned who would want to impregnate a blind person. She was quite unwavering in her comments that members of the disabled community have feelings and emotions and are capable of loving and being loved. As a society we must be mindful that the disabled community also has the right to reproductive rights and health care and that this human rights should be respected by all. Tamika reiterated that the State needs to do more to highlight the troubling issues the disabled community endures as well as to work towards making this vulnerable group feel a part of the wider society.  
EMPOWERMENT OF THE DISABLED COMMUNITY
Tamika made a special appeal that more of our country’s sidewalks should be paved in order to facilitate the blind members of society the freedom to navigate in and around the city without fear of injuring themselves. She was adamant that more skills training are needed for members of the disabled community in order to empower them in areas in which they can earn an income and building their self-esteem. She also suggested that more grants should be made available to members with a disability in order to make them more independent this she said would inevitable foster a culture of entrepreneurship within the disabled community since it is difficult for members to source employment. She mentioned that although she has lost sight in both eyes, her vision was still intact. This vision Tamika refers to is one in which her children will grow up to be the contributing members of the society as well as a vision to expand her small business and become financially independent. As a society we all have a responsibility to work towards dismantling the stigma which oftentimes is associated with a disability. As we go about our business during this Christmas season let us remember those members who are most vulnerable and give a helping hand wherever it is possible. We need to look beyond one’s disability and instead focus on the abilities and talents of our brothers and sisters and work towards a more inclusive society. In the words of Scott Hamilton, the only disability in life is a bad attitude.

Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Monday, 12 December 2016

Take The Fight To Gender-Based Violence

“Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development. It imposes large-scale costs on families, communities and economies. The world cannot afford to pay this price”. – Ban Ki-moon 
Jamaica is part of the international community which each year observes the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. From November 25 which is commemorated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women through to December 10, Human Rights Day, the global community pauses to raise public awareness regarding discrimination steeped in patriarchy and violence against women which has genesis in the unequal power distribution between men and women. According to USAID, gender-based violence cuts across ethnicity, race, class, religion, education level, and international borders. An estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Disturbingly, a significant number of violence against women goes unreported and the perpetrators are not brought to justice. The Caribbean region has one the highest incidences of rape. According to the UN Woman narrative on gender-based violence in the Caribbean, The Bahamas has the highest incident of rape per capita in the Caribbean at an average of 133 per 100,000, followed by St. Vincent and the Grenadines 112, Jamaica at 51, Dominica 34, Barbados 25 and Trinidad and Tobago 18.  Over the years Jamaica has been witnessing an alarmingly trend of murder-suicide. According to University of the West Indies lecturer in political psychology, Dr. Christopher Charles murder-suicide must be viewed in the context of domestic violence. As part of his findings on his research on murder-suicide in the security forces Charles highlighted the fact that 86 per cent of the perpetrators of murder-suicide were males and that the targets were overwhelmingly females.
PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE
Sadly, the discourse on gender-based violence tends to ignore the social and economic cost associated with hospitalization, time off from work and counseling which the State and survivors must bear. In a recent presentation at the University of the West Indies, Miss Taitu Heron, Programme Coordinator, UN Women’s National Programme, stated that 7 paid work days are incurred to victims of gender-based violence in Jamaica at a cost of $3,000 per day at a public health care facility. She added that in Uganda 11 paid work days are lost per 1 incident of gender-based violence to the survivors, while in India it was 5 paid work days.  In situations where children are exposed to seeing one parent being abused by the other we are yet to fully quantify the psychological damage that such incidents can and does have on those children. Such children can become withdrawn, perform poorly in school, depressed, violent, angry, and fearful and can later in life become abusers. This is an area which more research is needed in order to completely understand the impact of gender-based violence on the society. There is a tendency to exclude the fact that men are also victims of gender-based violence. We must come to the realization that some men are vulnerable and also suffer from gender-based from their spouses or significant others. Of course in a society which values hyper-masculinity such men rarely are afforded the chance to voice their concerns due mainly out of fear of being ridiculed and having their manhood questioned. Gender-based violence is not confined to the domain of sexual and or physical. No one should feel a sense a shame and suffer in silence due to violence of any nature. Unfortunately, we live in a world and society with a high tolerance for lawlessness, in addition for our insatiable appetite for pornography which devalues women. It bears thought that we need to do more towards eradicating gender-based violence.
INCREASED AWARENESS
The society needs to increase the awareness of the scope of gender-based violence and its impact on the target and the society through pointed public education campaigns. There is also an urgent need to engage more men and boys to join the effort in eliminating violence against women. The education system also has an integral role to play in eradicating gender-based violence by infusing gender-based violence into the National Standards Curriculum. We also need to ensure that our National Gender Policy for Gender Equality is gender-neutral in order to address discrimination against all genders. The government through Parliament should legislate and ensure the enforcement of laws to prevent violence against women. We need to ensure that gender-sensitive training becomes compulsory for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as well as the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) so as to better equip officers to deal with such forms of violence. We also need to create more partnerships with National Governmental Organizations (NGO’s), civil society, churches and other stakeholders in addressing all forms of violence. The creation of safe spaces for the survivors of gender-based violence should be of utmost importance to policy makers if the State is serious in tackling gender-based violence, at least one such facility should be in each parish.  The State has an obligation to safeguard its citizen and eradicate gender-based violence. The society cannot achieve sustainable development and economic growth until and unless all citizens are protected. As a society we should work towards fulfilling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) number 5 which speaks to gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. In order for us to have better societies we need to foster partnerships between both sexes while ensuring that women and girls have equal access to all resources and are protected from all forms of violence. In the words of Barack Obama, empowering women isn’t just the right thing to do-it’s the smart thing to do.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Ending HIV/AIDS Discrimination

HIV/AIDS is a disease with stigma. And we have learned with experience, not just with HIV/AIDS but with other diseases, countries for many reasons are sometimes hesitant to admit they have a problem. – Margaret Chan
It has been more than three decades since the HIV virus was first identified by the scientific community, however, despite of the advances in medicine, stigma and discrimination continue to be  major barriers in accessing treatment and services for those affected and impacted. World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 each year. The United Nations endorsed day provides an opportunity to show support for people living with HIV, as well as, to raise awareness of the struggles and prejudice those with the virus face daily. According to UNAIDS more than 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses. It is estimated that more than 36 million people are living with HIV. Sadly, a significant number of people living with HIV remain without antiretroviral therapy, including sex workers, young people, women and girls, transgender people, men who have sex with other men, people who use drugs and other key populations within the wider society. UNAIDS expects that US $26.2 billion will be required for AIDS response in 2020. However, we need a cultural change in as much as we need to find additional financial resources in the fight against preventing HIV/AIDS. Many of the barriers those living with HIV face are rooted in patriarchy and cultural biases which render women powerless and voiceless in their sexual relations. Disturbingly, in many situations adolescent girls’ right to privacy and control over their body is not respected as a significant number of them report that their first sexual experience was forced. According to the United Nations, of the 250, 000 new HIV infections cases in 2013, more than two-thirds were adolescent girls. This shows how vulnerable females are regarding contracting HIV. A major study examining how antiretrovirals (ARV’s) reduce the risk of HIV transmission among heterosexuals has found that no participant with a fully suppressed viral load infected his or her long-term HIV negative partner. These final results from the HPTN 052 study of 1,763 mixed HIV status heterosexual couples were presented at the Eighth International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2015.  According to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases the study now makes it clear that when an HIV infected person takes antiretroviral therapy that keeps the virus suppressed, the treatment is highly effective at preventing sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected heterosexual partner. According to the (Global AIDS Response Progress Report-GARPR 2014) 30,313 Jamaicans are living with HIV. Among men who have sex with men (MSM) HIV prevalence based on 2012 estimates is at 32%. HIV prevalence among female sex workers (SW) is at 4.2%. HIV prevalence among prison inmates is at 1.9% and among homeless drug users the prevalence rate is 4.0%. The time has come for the international community in general and Jamaica specifically to do more to close the HIV prevention gap which disproportionately affects lower and middle income countries more due to budgetary constraints. Unfortunately, more than 2 million are infected with HIV yearly. The international community should be mindful that now is not the time to easy off the pedal regarding HIV prevention campaigns. We have seen a resurgence of HIV in key populations and this should be taken as wake up call to action.  According to a recent report by Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) there is very little knowledge about the HIV prevalence among transgender women in Jamaica. However, the National HIV/STI programme estimates HIV prevalence rate of 0.4 and 0.5 per cent in adolescent boys and girls between ages 15-19 years. According to the United Nations as of 2013, 2.1 million adolescents were living with HIV. It cannot be business as per usual. It bears thought that given Jamaica’s strong Judea Christian custom many parents will without hesitation put out their transgendered children. Undoubtedly, these ‘trans’ individuals will be more at risk as they navigate the rough and challenging public space in an effort make a living. It is not uncommon for social issues such as homelessness, sexual abuse and depression to be high among this key population of any society making them more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
State Intervention
There needs to be more intervention programmes between the Ministries of Health and Education, Youth and Information to address adolescent pregnancies and the reproductive health of teenagers. The society was outraged recently at the news that  twenty (20) girls in 2 years from Kellits High School in Clarendon have dropped out of school due pregnancy. According to the news economic hardship was forcing many of these school girls into teenage pregnancy. This is a dangerous trend and has the potential to expose the girls to HIV/AIDS. While the society has made much positive strides in the attitude of health care workers towards those living with HIV, more needs to be done to remove the remaining discrimination which is still meted out to some persons living with the virus. Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) must remain vigilant so as not to lose out on the gains made in tacking HIV/AIDS. Interestingly, the Caribbean region through Cuba is the first country to eliminate transmission of HIV from mother to baby. While is it true that we cannot legislate human sexual behavior we can in fact and must encourage a sense of sexual responsibility among the sexually active members within the society.  We all know someone who has died from AIDS-related illness or who is currently inflicted by the virus. The international community should be attentive with regards to the sustainable development goal (SDG’s) #3 which speaks about ensuring healthy lives and the promotion of well-being for all at all ages. Any society which is serious about sustainable development must also demonstrate this by implementing and providing a comprehensive health care programme to ensure their citizenry remains in good health. As a society we should not give into our personal fears which in most instances emerge as a result of our biases and lack of knowledge. We need to work assiduously to foster and engender a culture of zero-discrimination and care towards those who are impacted with HIV/AIDS, as well as strive towards empowering such individuals in their endeavours.  Let us also continue in educating the public so that the many myths about HIV/AIDS can be dispelled. On this World AIDS Day show your support by wearing a red ribbon which is the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV. 
In the words of Michel Sidibe, “now is the time to come together again and finish what we started. Let us seize this opportunity and join the fast track towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030”.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Recognizing Masculinities In Support of Gender Equality

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One”- Marcus Aurelius
The discourse surrounding issues of gender and development is often imbalanced resulting in the concerns of men and boys being kicked to the curb. The traditional cultural philosophy of men being self-sufficient and in control of their emotions tend to nurture this disparity in our society, a practice which should be deterred at all cost if we are to effect the change in how men and boys see themselves and value their existence. It is important that as men we are given the space and time necessary to share our concerns, stories and achievements.  It is also critical that as men we help to raise the awareness of issues surrounding men’s rights in addition to engaging women in a meaningful way in order for societies to have harmonious gender relations and sustainable development. It bares thought that men should be afforded the means to challenge their emotional energies other than through sports. On November 19, 2016, the global community will observe International Men’s Day (IMD) in which issues of importance to men will be brought to the fore. The theme this year is “Stop Male Suicide”. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), male life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 69 years and for females it was 74 years. Unfortunately, the suicide rate for men is three times that of women. Suicide in men has been described as a silent epidemic and regrettably is a major contributor to men’s mortality. The issue of male health as a public health concern has been on the back burner for quite some time despite some attempt to change this narrative. The resources needed and the support services required are not readily invested in male health care resulting in many preventable diseases going untreated in men. Among the objectives of International Men’s Day include a focus on men’s and boy’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality and highlighting positive male role models. The construction of masculinity needs some amount of deconstruction to strip away the hegemonic notions of what it is to be a man in order to fit in a modern progressive culture of egalitarianism. Society teaches boys not to cry and or show their emotions. The feeling of pain and discomfort is encouraged and the male success in hiding his emotions becomes a measurement of his masculinity. This ideal of manhood suppress one’s emotional energy and if often a dangerous practice which oftentimes manifest itself in violence or some other destructive behavior.  Society then act surprise when some men lose their cool and act in an irrational manner. We cannot escape problems; it’s a part of the human experience, whether of a social or behavioural nature. Problems are often viewed along gendered lines and as such we must realize that men react differently to crisis than women. The role that gender plays as a risk factor for suicide has been studied extensively. According to Trevor Forbes, MD, Board Certified psychiatrist, “in most cultures men are not socialized to express their inner feelings”. Dr. Forbes added that a man who seeks professional help for mental health issues runs the risk of being branded a sissy. According to Dr. Forbes a man is expected to be a tower of strength and when he fails to live up to those expectations suicide is considered as the only way out. While females, according to some research show a higher rate of nonfatal suicide behavior, males, on the other hand records a higher success rate of completed suicide. Increasingly, we have been witnessing a hard core strand of masculinity which has facilitated a growing trend of male under-achievement at all levels of the education system. This is compounded by the media and pop culture which gives a false view of masculinity and manhood in this techno-industrial age in which many men are unable to ascribe to. Sadly, positive male role model are far and in between in the society resulting in a vacuum in mentoring which is required to bridge the boy to manhood rite of passage. There must be a greater push towards increasing mentoring programmes for our boys.
Flint native David McGhee trades in sports for <b>mentoring</b> to change the ...
Additionally, we need to expand the funding of those programmes which have been a success to so many of our troubled males, especially teenage boys. Through regulatory mentorship boys can be taught how to be men of character and made to understand their social responsibilities not only to themselves but to the wider society. Their self worth and self-acceptance would also be paramount in stemming the suicide rate among males. Government, civil society, religious organizations and the private sector must join forces to fight the stigma associated with mental health. Promoting gender equality must include examining those specific issues affecting and impacting men separate and apart from those of women. There are some programmes which we can implement in Jamaica to assuage the contentious issue of gender relations. The Bureau of Gender Affairs, for example, must move swiftly to re-establish the Male Desk in order to provide practical support for men and boys who are desirous of such services. The Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) must reassess its mandate and become more responsive to the needs of men and boys. The Institute can achieve this by hosting more seminars, workshops, lectures as well as encourage more research on men’s issues. We need to expand our minds and view development in a broader context. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), development is a process of enlarging people’s choices, increasing their opportunities for education, healthcare, income and employment. Unless we view development along this holistic approach gender equality will always lag behind. The time to revisit our national gender policy is now. As a society we also need to find ways and means of infusing Gender and Development into the National Standards Curriculum (NSC) to help in the process of ushering a gentler society with regards to power relations as well as to alleviate the mistrust that both sexes have of each other.Finally, in a spirit of gender equality we call on the United Nations to give International Men’s Day the official UN observance which it deserves. This will undoubtedly help to highlight the plight, concerns, and achievements of men in this gendered world in which we live. On this very important day let us celebrate our collective masculinity while at the same time recognizing our differences as men. In the words of George S. Patton, duty is the essence of manhood.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com, @WayneCamo  and Kurt Hickling, is an educator and cultural studies advocate with an interest in the cultural dimensions affecting males. 
kurthickling@gmail.com @jamteach1976

#InternationalMensDay #Jamaica #masculinity #manhood #genderequality #mentalhealth

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

In Pursuit of Good Local Governance

“There’s much more we can be doing in Parliament, we could be giving more power back to people at local government level, through local referendums”. Theresa May
The Jamaican electorate has never taken local government very seriously. However, despite this fact, the country will go to the polls on Monday, November 28 to vote for parish and municipal councils.  Sadly, many of us do not know our local representatives since to a large extent they have not made themselves available to the people. Additionally, it appears that many of our local representatives are unaware of their job functions. Furthermore, many of the parish councils lack accountability and transparency and this has erode the confidence of the electorate. Issues such as unclean drains, the transformation of many residential communities due to commercialization are leading to the erosion of numerous communities as well as to the quality of live we enjoy. There is also the issues of side walk garages and timely collection of garbage. Disturbingly, the Riverton City landfill still needs to be addressed. Our local government officials appear impotent in their attempt to address these issues as well as other critical issues necessary to improve people’s lives. As a result this has led to many questioning the relevance of local government in today’s society. The Jamaican society like all societies has layers of stratification. The society is divided along social classes’ and sadly, we have turned a blind eye to those of influence and wealth who are responsible for transforming the peaceful nature of numerous neighbourhoods into areas of distress. We all seek peace and happiness as human beings. In fact Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs speaks to Self- Transcendence. According to Maslow self-transcendence are life-altering peak experiences, such as love, understanding and happiness which are at the pinnacle of the human experience and of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Undoubtedly, there should be a sense of happiness in one’s home and by extension in one’s community. However, this happiness which we all seek needs the protection of the State by way of legislation and then by enforcement. This is especially true for the economically disadvantaged and most vulnerable in the society. The issue of town planning and development has always been skirted around by successive government since there is a political price to pay in addressing the ad hoc approach to development which have we have embraced over the years. Unfortunately, we have nurtured a culture of political interference in all aspects of our lives which has undermine to a great extent law and order especially in the area of town planning, specifically, with regard to our zoning laws. However, all is not lost and we now need to move towards a culture of engendering a platform of social development in which the people are at the centre of development. Any society which places a high premium on social development will reap the benefits of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), especially goal number 11 which speaks to making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. In recent times there has been the proliferation of junk yards all over the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA). This practice clearly needs the urgent attention from the authorities, such as, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) as well as the local government ministry. There seems to be classism at play surrounding this practice as the operators of such businesses cannot conduct such trade in their high-class communities in which they live. Social development is integral in building safer and inclusive communities. We need to realize that citizens and t in society should be allowed contribute in shaping policy for a better society. We cannot overemphasize that positive spins off for the advancement toward an inclusive society, this implies that individuals treat each other in a fair and just manner whether in the family, workplace or in any other setting where people operate. We need to cultivate a culture of social cohesiveness in which the voices and concerns of the most vulnerable are listened to and are just as important as those who are of influence and affluence. Appallingly, a significant number of our communities are no longer safe due to urban decay, crime and violence as well as myopic planning policies which have served to scare away many middle class families from our shores. The question of whether or not Jamaica still has a middle class is pretty much debatable. There needs to be a sense of urgency in finding ways of engendering opportunities in making our cities and communities safe again. We have seen the negatives of policies which are implemented only to serve a specific sector of the society. The time is right for a paradigm shift to embrace social responsibility and accountability. Such a collective embrace will enables us as a people to look out for each other. We need to rekindle our passion for civic activism in order to facilitate greater citizen participation and involvement in public policies, decisions and discourse. We need to move towards creating a just and fair society where regardless of gender, sexuality, religious affiliation, socioeconomic background, age and or disability. The reform of local government has been an ongoing for many years now; we should be reaping the benefits of this transformation now in order to realize Jamaica’s 2030 vision of making the country the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. In the words of Ferdinand Mount, “a majority in all parties do, I think, want to see local government recover its old vigor and independence”.   

Image of Governance Concept Hand Take White Ball with Wordcloud


Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Creating Safe, Inclusive and Sustainable Living Conditions

“A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things”- Barack Obama.
Successive governments over the years have failed miserably in many areas of governance, particularly in the aspect of social justice. Social justice is defined by Toowoomba Catholic Education, 2006 as “promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity. It exits when all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources”.  Injustice comes in various forms and guise which makes it difficult to recognize and address at times.  The unplanned re-structuring of many residential communities due to commercialization is one of many forms of social injustices which require urgent attention. The Jamaican society like all societies has layers of stratification. The society is divided along social classes’ and sadly, we have turned a blind eye to those of influence and wealth who are responsible for transforming the peaceful nature of numerous neighbourhoods into areas of distress. We all seek peace and happiness as human beings. In fact Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs speaks to Self- Transcendence. According to Maslow self-transcendence are life-altering peak experiences, such as love, understanding and happiness which are at the pinnacle of the human experience and of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Undoubtedly, there should be a sense of happiness in one’s home and by extension in one’s community. However, this happiness which we all seek needs the protection of the State by way of legislation and then by enforcement. This is especially true for the economically disadvantaged and most vulnerable in the society. The issue of town planning and development has never been taken seriously in the society as we have allowed the interference of politics to dictate when and where the laws regarding zoning should be applied. However, all is not lost and we now need to move towards a culture of engendering a platform of social development in which the people are at the centre of development. Any society which places a high premium on social development will reap the benefits of the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), especially goal number 11 which speaks to making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. In recent times there has been the proliferation of junk yards all over the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA). This practice clearly needs the urgent attention from the authorities, such as, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) as well as the local government ministry. There seems to be classism at play surrounding this practice as the operators of such businesses cannot conduct such trade in their high-class communities in which they live. Social development is integral in building safer and inclusive communities. We need to realize that citizens and the way they interact in society should be allowed contribute in shaping policy for a better society. We cannot overemphasize that positive spins off for the advancement toward an inclusive society, this implies that individuals treat each other in a fair and just manner whether in the family, workplace or in any other setting where people operate. We need to cultivate a culture of social cohesiveness in which the voices and concerns of the most vulnerable are listened to and are just as important as those who are of influence and affluence. Unfortunately, a significant number of our communities are no longer safe due to urban decay, crime and violence as well as ad hoc planning policies which have serve to scare away many middle class families. The question of whether or not Jamaica still has a middle class is pretty much debatable. The need to engender ways of making our cities and communities safe again is now. We have seen the negatives of policies which are implemented to serve a specific section of the society, instead of crafted to uplift the masses. The time is right for a paradigm shift to embrace social responsibility and accountability. Such a collective embrace will enables us as a people to look out for each other. One might ask where the nation’s sense of social responsibility and accountability was when Nicholas Francis a third form student was stabbed to death and thrown off a bus while heading home. However, we should learn from the experiences of the past and put measures in place so as not to repeat such sadness that his untimely death has caused. We need to rekindle our passion for civic activism in order to facilitate greater citizen participation and involvement in public policies, decisions and discourse. Most of us are quite familiar with the Jamaican proverb, “di same knife dat stick goat stick sheep”. We need to move towards creating a just and fair society where regardless of gender, sexuality, religious affiliation, socioeconomic background, age, disability or any other social indicator there is a sense of belonging for all. We are going to require more than just talk in order to achieve social justice for every member of the society. As a society we have sacrificed a lot over the recent past.  The quality of our lives is just as important as life itself. Most of us agree that much more needs to be done to improve the quality of our lives. The time to reclaim our society is now. In the words of Elie Wiesel “we must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented”.   
 waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Friday, 21 October 2016

Barbershop Networking To Improve Literacy in Boys

“We read to know we’re not alone”- William Nicholson
Girls continue to outperform boys at all levels of Jamaica’s education system. Regrettably, a significant percentage of boys begin school struggling to speak in full sentences due to their limited vocabulary. The process of reading over the years has been stigmatized as a ‘sissy’ activity in which ‘real’ men are pressured to avoid. Disturbingly, boys who display school smarts are often ridicule as effeminate by peers and even adults in areas where academic excellence by males is typically devalued. According to data from the United Nations (UN) it is estimated that worldwide 103 million children lack the skills to be literate. The news emerging from the UN is mixed as in an effort to meet their Sustainable Development Goals #4 (SDG) of ensuring inclusive and quality education and promoting lifelong learning the UN is reporting  that basic literacy skills have improved greatly, however, bolder strategies are required in achieving 100 per cent literacy as 57 million children remain out of school. It bear thought that without the ability to read, comprehend and interpret our students will have a difficulty competing for those better paying jobs which are integrated into the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme. It is very clear that we are in the midst of a boy crisis and as such we need to find creative measures to promote and encourage our boys to read more. An expansion of the stakeholders for improving literacy must be explored at this time. An additional stakeholder which could be added to the various intervention methods which currently exit is our nation’s barbershops. How would such a project be implementing one may ask? Such an ambitious plan would require a civil society partnership involving the churches, service clubs, such as, Rotary International and the Kiwanis Clubs and the owners/managers of barbershops. Over the years there has been a proliferation of barbershops all across the island. It has become rather common to see boys at barbershops on a Saturday or Sunday waiting for that special haircut. It is quite standard to wait at least 30-45 minutes at any such establishment. Imagine just for a moment how many hours per year boys spend at the barbershop? This waiting period could be used to promote reading among boys. Unfortunately, it very uncommon to see books at barbershops and this needs to be revisited by forging a partnership between non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and service clubs to donate books. Parents could also be encouraged to donate old books to their favourite barbershop to assist in this project. Boys have varied interests in reading material; however, many boys are interesting in comics as well as sports related books and magazines. We need to stimulate within boys a passion for reading and this must be inculcated at an early age to capture the creativity of our boys. A barbershop reading project is not a novel idea. In Michigan barbershops have gone a step further by giving discounts to boys who read aloud to their barbers while they are getting their hair styled. In addition to improving literary skills among boys, books have the ability to build the self-esteem of the reader which is lacking in many boys as they continue to bleach their skin. Such a barbershop reading project would assist immensely in character building of our boys into men, as well as assist in reclaiming a brand of masculinity which places a high premium on education. We need to finds ways of getting our boys to read again. Reading is fun. This message of repackaging reading as fun must be spread across the length and breadth of the society and especially among boys to get them to turn the pages of books. Reading is a macho activity. In the words of Kofi Annan, “acquiring literacy is an empowering process, enabling millions to enjoy access to knowledge and information which broadens horizons, increases opportunities and creates alternatives for building a better life”. 
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo
... and incorporates <b>barber</b>, <b>barber shop</b>, and <b>barber</b> chair design themes


Friday, 14 October 2016

Urbanization, Governance and Environmental Management

“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”. Ban Ki-moon 
According to the World Resources Institute (WRI) by 2050, 2.5 billion people, a larger population than China and India combined will move into the world’s cities. As the global population increases so too are the chances of interpersonal conflicts as we share the space around us. It matters a whole lot that governments work assiduously to make our cities safe and sustainable for all its inhabitants in spite of budgetary constraints. The United Nations (UN) has been around for more than 50 years and has been integrally involved in programmes aimed at transforming societies for the better. The UN has established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) all of which are geared towards ending poverty, protecting our planet and ensuring prosperity for all. The New World Encyclopedia defines sustainable development as balancing the protection of the natural environment with the fulfillment of human needs so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future. Regrettably, sustainable development is not always as obvious to policy makers as in too many situations the environment is sacrificed on the altar of development. Goal 17 of the UN’s (SDG’s) addresses the issue of partnership which is critical to sustainable development. According to the United Nations a successful development agenda requires partnership between governments, the private sector and civil society. These partnerships the UN added should be built upon principles and values, a shared vision and shared goals. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the laws are not always adhered to by some of the citizenry. There is a tendency for many of us in the society to dispose of garbage into gullies which oftentimes are flooded during times of disasters. We then blocked the roads and cry for justice forgetting to connect the dots that we too have a civic responsibilities to make our cities safe and secure. One can be poor with a heightened sense of civic pride. The society must remind itself and be mindful that government also has a wider responsibility to the citizenry to ensure that the gullies and drain are clean regularly. Recently, we saw what less than an hour’s rain can do to our urban and rural areas as many roadways, communities and gullies were flooded.  It can be argued that each social class has its own set of principles and goals which inevitably leads to chaos and underdevelopment. All across the corporate areas and in some parts of rural Jamaica, areas once considered as prime residential locations have been allowed to be taken over and changed into commercial purposes without any sanctions being applied to those who are involved in such practices. For example, in recent times there have been influxes of junk yards selling used car parts. In many instances these used car parts are stored on top of buildings or elsewhere without being secured. The recent scare with hurricane Matthew has made us realize that as a society our community risk management approach is not where it should be. The government needs to act now to ensure that we look at the broader picture regarding risk management instead of the insular and incremental approach which now exits. The current situation increases the stake for huge risks and hazard for communities all across the country. What would have happened to all those unsecured car parts stored in junk yards and elsewhere if hurricane Matthew had impacted us directly? Presently, unsecured used car parts form the basis of a potential peril and threat to the life and the security of residents. No one is advocating that we should not have outlets which sell used car parts. The issue here is one of regulation and enforcement of zoning rules so that we do not continue to erode neighborhoods and negatively change the dynamics of such communities. The Kingston and St. Andrew (KSAC) and all the other relevant government agencies need to act with a sense of urgency to address this growing problem. It should not be that anyone because of wealth and or political connection is able to do just about anything without thinking about his/her responsibilities to the wider community. The concept of social justice must work for all Jamaicans, whether they live uptown, midtown or downtown or in rural areas. Jamaica’s 20/30 vision is at risk if we continue along this path. We will not realize the dream of Jamaica becoming that place to live, work, raise families and do business if we do not effectively manage risks in a communal manner and be mindful of the rights of others. The UN reminds us that by 2030 almost 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. This has implications for all of us as our personal space is set to decrease with urbanization and an increase in population. We must develop and put policies in place now in order to meet these new realities, development cannot be sustained in this unstructured manner. There needs to be some monitoring of these junk yards by the authorities. We all have a right to enjoy the country of our birth regardless of our social class. In the words of Samuel Wilson, “as population susceptibilities are better understood, we will be in a better position than we are in today to make informed decisions about risk management.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Managing Community Risks

The Jamaican Constitution guarantees every citizen certain basic rights. As a result all Jamaicans are viewed as equals before the law. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the laws are not always adhered to by some of the citizenry. All across the corporate areas and in some parts of rural Jamaica, areas once considered as prime residential locations have been allowed to be taken over and changed into commercial purposes without any sanctions to those involved in such practices. In recent times there have been influxes of junk yards selling used car parts. In many instances these used car parts are stored on top of buildings or elsewhere without being secured. The government needs to act now! Any delayed action will only make matters worse. The situation poses huge risks and hazard for communities all across the country. What would have happened to all those unsecured car parts stored in junk yards and elsewhere if hurricane Matthew had hit us? These used car parts form the basis of peril and threat to the life and security of residents. The Kingston and St. Andrew (KSAC) and all the other relevant government agencies need to act with a sense of urgency to address this growing problem. The issue of the inconveniences associated with junk yards in residential areas cannot be underestimated. Many residents have suffered and continue to be denied ready access to their homes since patrons of these entities park anywhere that is available blocking off entry to their gate. It cannot be that anyone because of wealth and or political connection is able to do just about anything without thinking about his/her responsibilities to the wider community.  Jamaica’s 20/30 vision of promoting the country to become the choice to live, work, raise families and do business will not be achieved if we do not manage risks in a communal manner, mindful of the rights of others. Development cannot be sustained in this unstructured manner. There needs to be some monitoring of these junk yards by the authorities. Additionally, these used car parts also serve as a haven for rodents and well as mosquitoes. We all have a right to enjoy the country of our birth regardless of social class. In the words of Dan Shechtman "sustainable development requires human ingenuity. People are the most important resource". 

Monday, 3 October 2016

#World Habitat Day 2016

Everyone deserves a decent place to live. United Nation’s World Habitat Day is annually celebrated on the first Monday of October to reflect on the state of human settlements and people’s right to adequate shelter. The day serves as a reminder to the world of its collective responsibility for the habitat of future generations. As the global population increases so too have the challenges. Regrettably, the number of people especially the poor and vulnerable groups, including women, migrants and persons with disabilities find themselves living in less than desirable conditions as they face discrimination based on their circumstances. It is estimated that a billion new houses will be needed by 2025 to accommodate 50 million new urban dwellers. Access to affordable housing is not new phenomenon. It is a global challenge which requires commitment, resources and creativity from governments in order to reverse the growing trends of informal settlements and slums which many urban dwellers now call home.  Squatting on government and privately owned lands is now a common feature in many societies including Jamaica. The eradication of poverty should be a priority for all governments as this is a barrier to quality and affordable housing. The housing crisis in Jamaica is desperate. It is estimated that between 15 to 35 per cent of Jamaicans are living in abandoned buildings or in squatter settlements. This is most unacceptable and requires urgent attention by the government as it relates to land reform. The theme of the 2016 World Habitat Day is “Housing at the Centre”. Interestingly, the first World Habitat Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1986 to raise awareness about the plight of the 1.6 billion people in need of adequate shelter. Disturbingly, women are at a disadvantage regarding quality and affordable housing. This issue is made worse since a significant number of women work in the home and this unpaid work renders them ineligible for a mortgage and powerless to  pay rent for themselves and their children. The United Nations has outlined seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) which are geared towards transforming the world in which we live.  Goal 11, addresses the issue of making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. However, there are multiple challenges including a shortage of housing stock as more and more residential houses are being converted for commercial use and purpose. It is imperative that governments draft legislation or enforce existing laws in order to zone communities and protect the housing stock which are available for people. It cannot be that the rich and powerful are allowed to transform a community or neighborhood from residential to commercial without any sanction at the expense of the poor and vulnerable. Every one of us regardless of skin colour, religion, sexual orientation, social class and or sex deserves the opportunity for a better future. There is a collective responsibility on all governments to lead the way in empowering and engendering their citizenry to achieve quality and adequate housing in order to achieve sustainable development. In the words on Ban Ki-moon “building sustainable cities and a sustainable future will need open dialogue among all branches of national, regional and local government. And it will need the engagement of all stakeholders including the private sector and civil society, and especially the poor and marginalized”.     

#WorldHabitatDay #affordablehousing #Aleppo #sustainabledevelopment #Jamaica #poverty
Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Take A Stand Against Ageism

In youth we learn; in age we understand- Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
The world’s population is ageing and rapidly so. According to the World Population Ageing Report of 2015, between 2015 and 2030, the number of people in the world aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 56 per cent, from 901 million to 1.4 billion. Alarmingly, by 2050, the global population of older persons is projected to more than double its size reaching nearly 2.1 billion. We therefore cannot continue to discriminate against those older members of our society since a sizeable proportion of our human capital and development rest with them. It is estimated that over the next years, the number of older persons is expected to grow fastest in Latin America and the Caribbean with a projected 71 per cent increase in the population aged 60 years or over. The 2011 census in Jamaica indicated that 305,163 Jamaicans are 60 years and over. It must be noted that women tend to outlive men for many reasons and as a result women account for 54 per cent of the global population aged 60 years or over. In 2014, governments around the world adopted a resolution at the Economic and Social Council that recognized ageism as the driving force behind age discrimination. Each year on October 1, the world community pauses to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP). The day is set aside to raise awareness of the negative stereotypes and misconceptions which exist about older persons and ageing. The theme this year is “Take a Stand against Ageism”. Ageism is a widely prevalent and prejudicial attitude that has its genesis in the cultural norms and mores of most societies which places little value on the care and protection of the elderly often leading to the abuse of the older person. Unfortunately, we live in a world where emphasis and premium is placed on youth and in fact millions of dollars are spent on cosmetics, surgical and medical interventions to remain young and we seek the fountain of youth at all cost . The failure of governments and societies to tackle ageism undermines the human rights of the older person and places limitations on their ability to contribute to the social, cultural and political life in their society. Issues such as affordable health care and housing need to be addressed for the elderly. We need to engender a culture and society in which we view the elderly with respect having a reservoir of knowledge and expertise in their chosen fields of endeavour. Let us not judge anyone based on their age. Let us embrace the theme of the International Day of the Older Person and take a stand against ageism. Let us be mindful that if we live long enough we too will one day become old. We should not define each other by a mere number. Discrimination has no place in the 21st century and is unacceptable in any form. In the words of Satchel Paige, ‘age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter’.  
Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo
#YearsAhead #ageism #discrimination #Jamaica #UNIDOP

Thursday, 8 September 2016

International Literacy Day 2016

“The world has changed since 1966 but our determination to provide every woman and man with the skills, capacities and opportunities to become everything they wish, in dignity and respect, remains as firm as ever. Literacy is a foundation to build a more sustainable future for all”. –UNESCO Director-General
It is rather alarmingly that data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), indicates that there are 758 million adults, 15 years and older who are unable to read or write a simple sentence. Disturbingly, two-thirds are female. Of the global illiterate population, 114 million are between the ages 15 t0 24, 509 million are 25-64 years and 135 million are 65 years and older. The statistics speaks volume and signify that a lot of work is still required to attain universal literacy.
The International community pauses on September 8, 2016 to commemorate International Literacy Day. The day is used as a platform to raise awareness of the plight of millions of our fellow human beings whose minds are imprisoned due to their inability to read and write and function effectively in their respective societies. Interestingly, this year is the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’S International Literacy Day and the theme is: Reading the Past, Writing the Future. 
The eradication of adult illiteracy requires a collaborative effort involving public-private partnership since no government will have all the resources needed to eradicate illiteracy. The international community through the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) has also established targets in order to accomplish universal literacy.  In fact, Sustainable Development Goal 4 ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all. Additionally, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.1 states that by 2030, all girls and boys should complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. SDG 4.6 categorically states that by 2030 all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy. Jamaica is likely to meet such targets given the early indicators such as the Grade Four Literacy Test (GFLT) scores for our primary level students. However, there is a tendency to believe that student enrollment in school in and of itself is a panacea geared towards literacy; however, this is far removed from the truth. Historically, many countries, including Jamaica have practiced a system of social promotion policy which sees students moving from grades regardless of competence at the grade level. Regrettable, the age of the student is the overarching factor in the promotion. This practice does more harm than good and needs to be revisited. Within the Caribbean region, Cuba, has achieved universal literacy and this is most commendable, given the limitation of resources on the State. Jamaica has an adult literacy rate of 87 per cent. Jamaica has made tremendous strides regarding the fight to reduce illiteracy. In 1972 the National Literacy Board was established, two later the name was changed to the Jamaican Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL). In 2006 JAMAL was rebranded with the creation of the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL). The JFLL has had to work hard to overcome the stigma and discrimination that members who are illiterate have had to deal with. While there are still remnants of stigma lingering, it is nowhere close to what it used to be. However, as will celebrate our successes regarding the war on illiteracy, we must be mindful of the challenges we face as a relatively small state. Issues, such as poverty, overcrowded classrooms and family tradition all can have a negative effect on literacy. We need to foster and nurture a culture of reading in our society. Our early childhood institutions, as well as our homes need to embrace the concept of emergent literacy. This is a process which begins before school, through activities and experiences in everyday life with peers and adults. Emergent literacy in reality is the idea that children grow into reading and writing with no real beginning or ending point. Perhaps, now is a good a time to define reading. Reading is the process in which we construct meaning from print. Reading is a language activity and our ability to read is limited to our language skills. Reading is the other half of writing. Reading can also be defined as the simultaneous decoding and comprehension. In other words, merely calling words is not reading. In order for someone to be literate, that individual must also have the requisite comprehension skills set necessary to fully understand what was read. Phonemic Awareness is a critical part in any literacy programme and we must revisit this in terms of how we teach reading. (Yapp, 1992), says, phonemic awareness is children’s basic understanding that speech is composed of a series of individual sounds and is the foundation for phonics. We need to engage our students, especially our boys more regarding reading. One such method is by transforming instruction through technology. Technology can promote an environment where students are actively engaged in learning through collaborative participation. Much more can be done to teach literacy by using computer-aided software and other digital devices. Students can become motivated through computer-based educational activities that may increase the opportunity to customize their work and increase the control and challenge of the task provided.  Our students have more access to reading material now than at any other time in history. In addition to print books, there are digital formats such as e-books and audio books which we need to make more use of. Additionally, the Education Ministry needs to strengthen the literacy programmes in our schools by offering scholarships for students to pursue studies in Literacy, as well as, by providing more literacy specialists in our schools to give support to the ongoing literacy programmes. The Education Ministry needs to view as urgent the need to employ gender-specialists in our schools to assist in developing programmes to cater to both sexes. Our boys need to see men read in public spaces, whether this is in the classroom, at home or some other structured setting. Too often reading is viewed as not macho enough and many boys feel pressured not to pick up a book and read. The time has come for us not only to challenge this myth but to interrogate this stereotype in bringing about changes to the narrative as we work towards building a reading culture in which we empower our boys as well as girls.    
In the words of Kofi Annan, literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Monday, 5 September 2016

Change The Narrative: Let Us Empower Our Students

Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of genius of each. Plato
The job of an educator is quite challenging and requires much planning in order to effectively impact the 21st century learner. The issue of indiscipline in the education sector continues to plague policy makers as the search for meaningful intervention goes unabated. Sadly, the creation of a special position in the education system, that of, Dean of Discipline is a direct response of the disciplinary problems most if not all schools grapples with. Our boys are at particular risk and as such the intervention to save our boys should be a priority. 
Our male students need a firm hand regarding setting guidelines about issues concerning discipline. However, we must be careful not to crush the male intuitive sense of curiosity and their masculinity in our attempt to correct that which we deemed requires correction.  In education circles we tend not to speak enough about Social Emotional Learning to the deterrent of stakeholders. Social and Emotional Learning is a process whereby students acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions. Educators need to move towards an education system in which social and emotional skills are infused into the curriculum and which all students will be empowered to become involved in arriving at solutions rather than them being merely objects to be observed. Research has showed that much undesirable behavior, such as, drug abuse, violence, bullying and scamming can be prevented or reduced when educators take an integrated approach to develop and nurture students’ social and emotional skills.
 In too many instances the wayward behavior of our male students is linked to them not fully being engaged in the teaching and learning process. Educators need to mindful that the learning styles of boys differ from that of girls. Boys tend to require a more hands on approach to solidify their learning. The new National Standards Curriculum (NSC) to be implemented on a phased basis for the 2016/2017 academic year is a most welcome move. The National Standards Curriculum is more student-centered and has an emphasis on the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT). The new National Standards Curriculum is based on the 5 E’s of the 21st century learner. These are: engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration and evaluation. We need to move away from those practices which were ineffective for the learner of the 20th century.  The learner of the 21st century is one who must be engaged at all steps throughout the teaching and learning process in order to maximize student outcome. The 21st century learner is one who is engaged in a student-driven educational planning programme with avenues for exploration and explanation. Too many students, especially boys are falling through the cracks simply because they find school to be a dull and boring place. We are losing out on the creativity of our youth population if we just sit idly by and allow students to drop out of school; we need to change this narrative. We need to nurture a culture of differentiated instruction in order to reach all our students.  Professor Carol Ann Tomlinson, professor of educational leadership, foundations and policy, describes differentiated instruction as factoring students’ individual learning styles and levels of readiness first before designing a lesson plan.
Another critical area worthy of more exploration is that of seeing students as teachers. Yes, students can be viewed as teachers. Dennis Harper, an advocate for the student as a teacher and founder of Generation YES, developed a programme where by students instructed teachers how to use technology in their classroom. This collaboration between students and teachers creates a framework for the architecture of ownership of the learner. The Jamaica education system would certainly benefit from such a programme and would curtail the high dropout rate of our students, especially our boys. The new curriculum is intricately woven to embrace STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These influential areas in education are where the jobs of the 21st century are to be found. STEM also provides a backdrop for problem solving, however, very much lacking as a skills set in the wider society. A culture of ownership by the learner will also have positive benefits regarding the reduction of violent incidents at schools. According to data from the Ministry of Education, between 2011 and 2013, a total of 1288 violent incidents were recorded in the nation’s schools.  A student who feels a sense of entitlement and attachment to his/her school is unlikely to engage in violent acts.  We need to build the human capacity of all our students; however, special emphasis must be placed on our boys. The Education Ministry needs to explore more the issue of male underachievement with the view of putting in place intervention measure to address this issue. Male underachievement is quite pervasive throughout the various levels of the education system and runs counter to sustainable development.       
In the words of Julie Dirksen, learning experiences are like journeys. The journey starts where the learning is now, and ends when the learner is successful.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo