Several very expensive solutions to Barbados’ gang and drug problems are available. In desperation, the Government may be tempted to select one of them and unnecessarily push Barbados further into debt. Given Government’s tendency to partially implement solutions and then realize that they are unaffordable, the money will likely be wasted.
Since we currently have ‘mauby’ pockets, an effective and economical (not costly) solution would more likely be implemented to completion. In designing solutions for our youth, we should remember our responsibility to them, which is to provide an environment where they can be trained to receive the baton of leadership, so that they can responsibly manage this legacy which is Barbados.
Once this vision is accepted, then the solution reveals itself. On the gang issue, there are three groups of youths that need to be targeted. The first group is the current secondary school students who are being prepared to leave school with no marketable skills.
The second group is those who have already graduated from secondary school without any marketable skills, and are coming to the realization that the only employment opportunities available to them are within a gang.
The third group is gang leaders, who think that the only way that they can participate in Barbados’ economy is through recruiting others to engage in the illegal drug trade. Permanent solutions need to be designed for each group.
In designing permanent solutions, it is important to address the root causes and not only the symptoms. One root cause of our gangs is the secondary school curriculum, which results in many students leaving school without any marketable skills. This brings us to the solution for our current students.
The existing school curriculum needs to be rearranged so that students spend their first three years learning the more exciting, easier-to-learn, and more marketable practical aspects of the subjects. During this time, all students should be taught, among other things: conversational languages, applied sciences and arts, and music-by-ear.
All students should at least know how to cook, make marketable products from raw materials at home (eg: coconut oil from coconuts), perform basic accounting, perform basic maintenance on manufactured products, and speak and write well. The final two years should be spent learning the more challenging theoretical aspects of subjects in preparation for the CXC examinations.
Those who have already left school without marketable skills will soon realise that as adults, they need money. Individual counselling and group seminars may be useful for their personal development; however, it does not pay bills. They are aware that they do not possess marketable skills to get anything but labourer positions, and in the current economic climate, those entry-level positions are already taken by those who left school before them. Therefore, the solution is to give them the training to start their own profitable businesses.
Walbrent College conducts free practical workshops that train persons, with no apparent marketable skills, to start and grow a business with no start-up money. The College used to teach the workshop to inmates in prison so that they could have had a legitimate source of income following their release.
The next free 5-day workshop for unemployed and under-employed persons will likely be held within one month. Walbrent College is hosting a free public town-hall meeting on Sunday 10th September at 5:00 pm at Combermere School, where participants may register themselves and others to attend the free workshop.
At the town hall meeting, Roger Husbands, who accurately predicted the current gang activity now described by the Police, has been invited to make further predictions based on an analysis of the current situation. Solutions Barbados will explain their plan to effectively and economically address Barbados’ gang and crime problems. All are welcome to attend.
The third group comprises gang leaders who control gang members. Many of them wish that there was another way, but feel trapped in the hazardous drug trade. They desperately need to manage the development, marketing and distribution of a safer product.
Fortunately, there are an unlimited amount of replacement products to which they can apply their unique management skills. They simply need to see the resulting income in order to be convinced to make the switch.
When an area is being flooded by an open faucet, the first order of business is to turn it off and then proceed with the clean-up. Changing the secondary school curriculum to give all students marketable skills is the equivalent of turning off the faucet. This requires the support of the Ministry of Education. It is to their shame that a new school term is about to start and the curriculum remains unchanged.
Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com