Pan-Africanism & Socialization

The average Jamaican is seemingly not concerned about issues relating to Pan-Africanism. This was evident in the low turnout at a recently held Pan-African public symposium at the University of the West Indies. Despite, a population of more than 90 per cent African ancestry, a significant percentage of the populace do not view themselves as descendants of Africans or Afro-Jamaicans. This separation and arguably denial of our history is largely due to how the society has been cultured and schooled. To a large extent the society pays little attention to our historical grounding and this lack of historical significance is demonstrated in the in the growing number of our young men and women who bleach their skin. It bears thought that for many of us a sense of self and personhood is the missing link between believing in our own sense of self and how we fit into and contribute productively to the society. Additionally, the issue of poor self-esteem exhibit by some of our students’ stems in part to an education system in which History is optional at the secondary level. A significant number of students shy away from the subject. It can be argued that the society’s level of black consciousness is largely dormant, added to this the education system in part fosters this quiescent attitude. On Friday, May 26, 2017, the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work in collaboration with the UWI Pan-African Consortium of the University of the West Indies, Mona, hosted an African Liberation Day Symposium. The theme of the forum was “Peter Abrahams: A forgotten Pan-Africanist”. The presenters Professor Rupert Lewis, Dr. Michael Barnett, Dr. Shani Roper and veteran journalist, Earl Moxam all did a excellent job at discussing aspects of Peter Abraham’s life and work while making the connection to African Liberation Day which was commemorated a day earlier on Thursday, May 25. The presenters were excellent in highlighting how involved Peter Abrahams was in early years of the Pan Africanism movement. In fact, Abrahams was the last surviving member of the organizing committee of the Fifth- Pan African Congress held in 1945 at the time of his death in 2017.The turnout for such an important event was low, thus reinforcing the perception that the scholarship and activism surrounding Pan- Africanism is rooted mainly in the halls of academia. We should not fool ourselves; we are still on the plantation. What we now have are new colonial masters, very much steep in the Anglo-Saxon culture, far removed from our historical journey and socialization. We must remember that many decisions which affect our daily lives are made in European or North America even though we political independent. Despite the progress we have made as a society and as individuals, it can be argued that collectively we are still shackled in this era of neo-colonialism, chained by institutions and processes which are Eurocentric in nature and scope. Professor Rupert Lewis argued that fiction writing and journalism were central to Pan-Africanism as embraced by Abrahams. Professor Lewis was also concerned about the sociology of the elderly. He added that the elderly are at particular risk to criminal violence. The society was shocked and outraged recently at the rape and murder of 88 year old, Nettie Rowe, of Runaway Bay, St. Ann. Regrettably, Abrahams himself fell victim to the level of violence which targets the old and vulnerable in the society on January 18, 2017 at age 97. Dr. Michael Barnett, bemoaned the fact that so few outlets are available for Pan-Africanism in the media landscape. It must be noted that while we commemorated African Liberation Day, we are mindful that many of our African leaders have plundered the coffers of their respective countries and in a sense have caged their own people resulting in the continent of Africa not realizing its full potential. The time is now to revisit and recast a new vision of Pan-Africanism in order to move our people of African descent to that level where entrepreneurship becomes the engine of growth and advancement. Pan-Africanism is an ideology and movement which promote and support solidarity of Africans globally. We all need to get involved in some form of advocacy and activism in order to keep the awareness of black pride and consciousness alive. In the prophetic and powerful words of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, a race that is solely dependent upon another for economic existence sooner or later dies.

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

#elderly #panafricanism #blackconsciousness #ideology #activism #advocacy #racism #MarcusGarvey

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School Leadership Lacking

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality”- Warrren Bennis

Leadership is not easy. It is often said, uneasy lies the head which wears the crown. After years of poor and ineffective school leadership The National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL) was established in 2011 to develop excellence in educational leadership and school management. The lack of accountability and transparency at the level of principalship at both the primary and secondary levels is quite appalling and urgently needs attention. Undoubtedly, there are some principals and schools which are doing exceptional well in meeting the needs of their students. The focus and conversation however, should shift to those who are not despite the support and encouragement from stakeholders. In most instances principals across the educational landscape are more than qualified for their positions, however, holding the requisite qualification and the ability to effectively manage a school are worlds apart. In order to improve student outcome and to maximize the true potential of all students it takes more than having letters behind one’s name. A critical area where a lot of principals score poorly in is that of enabling an environment for effective teaching and learning. Too many of our schools are underperforming due primarily to the poor leadership in place. The 21st century education system must be meaningful for all learners. The weak structure of some School Boards and the manner in which School Board members are appointed leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, in some schools, the Office of the principal and the Office of the School Board are blurred and compromised giving principals a free reign to do as they wish. The 2004 Task Force on Educational Reform serves as a platform to the modernization and transformation of Jamaica’s education system. As a result of the Task Force the Education System Transformation Programme (ESTP) was birthed to improve standards of performance and greater accountability of all levels of the education system. Regrettably, some of whom have the title of principal are shallow, void of integrity, vindictive and unworthy of such positions. Those principals who fall in such a category should be grateful daily to their luck and connections, since many are indebted to third parties whether political, religious or civic associations for the position they hold. In the interim, many students and teachers are held to ransom in the power play which takes place in many of our schools. Many excellent teachers become frustrated and this frustration as well as the high levels of stress is played out many times in the classroom while the teaching and learning experience is hijacked on an altar of cronyism and favoritism. Our children deserve better! Too many upstanding teachers leave the classroom yearly, abandoning their dreams and aspirations for the sake of peace of mind. Additionally, some principals who are aware of their limitations have purposefully ventured into building divisions among staff. Unfortunately, there are those in positions of principals who instead of building bridges in order to unite their staff in a spirit of collegiality choose to sow chords of mischief and hatred. It is unfortunate that the process of engagement some principals and their staff is non-existent. As a result many teachers are unaware of the School Improvement Plan (SIP) which outlines the expectation of individual teachers during the academic year. It bears thought that as a society we need to shun such individuals from all areas of leadership.

What is Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is also known as personal efficacy, and is defined as the confidence in one’s own skill sets to accomplish intended goals and assigned targets. Self-efficacy is situation specific and varies regarding the events in our lives. A principal’s sense of efficacy is an assessment of his or her capabilities to structure a specific course of action to improve student outcomes. According to Tschannen-Moran & Gareis (2004 the major influences on efficacy are assumed to be attributional analysis and interpretation of the four sources of efficacy information: mastery experience, physiological arousal, vicarious experience and verbal persuasion. It is quite likely and acceptable that a principal might feel secured in one area of leadership and rather inadequate in another area. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Some principals are intrinsically motivated while others are not. Success in leadership is not a sprint but a marathon. The weak principal today may become the transformational leader within a few years. This cuts across the board for all who are in leadership positions.

Forging Ahead Towards a 21st Century Education System

In this age of accountability and transparency it is critical that we fast tracked the transformation process in order to have a 21st century education system. The society needs to demand more from our school leadership. It cannot be that principals with a track record of underachievement are given extension after reaching the retirement age. This is a bad and retrograde practice which has no place in the 21st century. The Education Act does not guarantee any extension to any principal upon retirement. Too many in the society who should know better are complicit in supporting ineffective school leadership. A rigorous discourse on way forward regarding how to improve the culture in many of our schools, as well as, in building professional trust is needed. For educator, Regie Routman professional trust means that teachers and leaders at a school can depend on each other’ that everyone on staff is fully committed to all students, and that ongoing, high-quality professional learning ensures that all teachers do an effective job”. As a nation we need to be adamant in our resolve that such principals are retired in the interest of the nation’s children and the country at large. We need to redouble our efforts in bringing back professionalism and honour to the position of principalship. Sadly, there are many principals whose words are meaningless and they have become a laughing stock among their peers. There are many principals who are not respected by their staff, parents and students, due mainly to their unprofessional and unethical ways.

The learner of the 21st century requires leadership which is both transformational and instructional. The fruits of a transformed education system hinge itself on the quality of leadership in place in our schools. We need to recapture the mould of principals of yesteryear who were role models and mentors for both their students and the wider community. It can and must be done as education is the only way Jamaica will pull herself up and out of the crisis the society is grappling with. We should be reminded that untruths and fear are not qualities that build a school, nor fosters a culture of excellence. Distressingly, too many principals lack the motivation to inspire their staff; too many see their role primarily as perfunctory, disregarding the need to build relationships with stakeholders to enhance the teaching and learning journey. School leadership is not a responsibility for those who do not have a love for teachers. The time is now for the society to reclaim their collective voices in denouncing ineffective school leadership to safeguard the well being of the nation’s most vulnerable asset, that of our children. Educational equity is a right not a privilege!

In the words of Robert John Meehan educational leadership is about letting go the urge to control others and holding on to the purpose of setting them free.

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

#leadership #education #school #principalship #Jamaica #sustainabledevelopment

Wagering on France’s next President

“Ideas govern the world, or throw it into chaos”- Auguste Comte

The global tide of populism sweeping across much of Europe and to a lesser extent the North American continent continues to reverberate throughout much of the capitals of Europe. The centrist and relatively newcomer to French politics, Emmanuel Macron, and the far-right and rather polarizing politician Marine Le Pen have both have made it through to the run-off election to choose the next president of France. Le Pen is controversial for many reasons. Le Pen’s core principles are steeped in an anti-globalization, anti-immigration and anti-European Union mould and have found favour among a significant percentage of the French electorate. It can be argued that many French citizens are disillusioned by the traditional political parties and are quite fearful of the future. The on-going political instability in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria, which has subsequently led to a refugee crisis, have provided much fuel to the notion of nationalism and have nurtured a culture of France for the French. The recent attacks on Paris, as well as, on other European capitals by terrorist groups have also led to a growing spirit of nationalism throughout France and Europe. Disturbingly, the uncertainty of the future has given rise in incidents of anti-Semitism not only in France but across much of Europe. This trend has become rather unsettling for the Jewish communities in these countries, especially for France which has the largest Jewish population in Europe at around 500, 000 strong.

Origin of the European Union

The European states began to unite in the 1950’s after catastrophic world wars. The Schuman Declaration led to the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) of 1952 was the first effort to coalesce European states in the 20th century. The European Union, (EU) came into being after the Maastricht treaty, formally, the Treaty on European Union or (TEU), was signed on February 7, 1992 by members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands. The European Union (EU) is a unified trade and monetary body of 28 member countries, this number will reduce to 27, after the United Kingdom leaves the EU following Brexit. It is noteworthy that the EU eliminates all border control between members, as the Schengen Area guarantees free movement to those legally residing within its border. The people of France are at a crossroads. The paths are clear, retreat and give into fear and insularity or pursue the route of engagement and a having a meaningful global presence.

Gender and Politics

France has never had a female president. Some posited the view that Le Pen’s rise in the National Front Party is as a consequence of her father, the founder of the National Front party not having a male heir. Le Pen by not having a brother benefited from this fact, nonetheless the world patiently awaits the results to see whether or not she will create history. Is Le Pen gender a liability in this presidential election? The culture in France is very much chauvinistic and driven by a sense of phallocentrism much more than other countries within the European Union. France undoubtedly has a hyper- masculine culture steeped in patriarchy. The ego of French male is not easily soothed and this unquestionably will prevent a significant number of men from giving support for a female to become head of the State. France still has a very far way to go in breaking the class ceiling. Interestingly, all the leaders of the main political parties in France have urged their supporters to back Macron. In fact, former President Barack Obama has also given his support to Macron to succeed Francois Hollande as the next president of France. In spite of the comparison to Joan of Arc, Le Pen’s path to the presidency will take a miracle for her to overcome and defeat Macron on May, 7, 2017. The National Party has had a history of anti-Semitism and racism and it will be quite interesting how the intersection of race and religion affects the outcome of the presidential elections.

On the issue of gender equality, it must be noted that France adopted gender equality rather late compared to their European counterparts. Additionally, France’s strong religious association to Roman Catholicism and the country’s focus on the family instead of the individual are factors which have contributed greatly to gender inequality. Female participation in politics still remains as a major concern with regards to gender equality. According to data supplied by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), France has a 25.8 per cent female participation in politics. Despite having had a female Prime Minister in Edith Cresson, women have long been underrepresented in French politics. French women became eligible to vote since 1944. On June 28, 1999, articles 3 &4 of the French constitution were amended. The law promoting equal access to men and women to elected office was adopted on June 6, 2000. It is rather ironic and unsettling that France lags behind their European neighbours regarding gender equality, despite having given the world feminist icons such as Simone de Beauvoir. The French culture continues to resonate with a high degree of sexism and will not change anytime soon. “Men are viewed here as a social group active in changing or maintaining the social inferiorisation of women, rather from the standpoint of recomposed masculine identity or forms of masculinity”. (Devreux 2007).

France’s political establishment has been hit hard by Macron, who is often compared to Obama and Trudeau for his youthfulness. Macron’s meteoric rise has been rather amazing and time will tell if he becomes the next president. His political party En Marche, formed last year has generated a movement like culture which many believe will usher him into the Elysee Palace come May 7. There has been a rejection of traditional old style politics and this dismissal will be played out in many more elections to come, many more surprise presidents and prime ministers are lurking in the wings. The world saw last year Donald Trump, a rather unconventional businessman turned politician becoming president of the United States of America. While the world anxiously awaits the outcome of the French presidential elections we are told not to wager on a female presidency. The French society is divided and as such the next president of France will need to embark on a programme to try and to mend fences and bridge the political divide after a bruising election. The way forward for France must include a closer interpretation and implementation of Sustainable Development Goal number 5 which speak to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Marine Le Pen would have inspired an entire generation of girls not only in France but also the international community. One’s gender should never be a barrier to any achievement especially in 2017. In the words of the French philosopher Voltaire, the true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it. Au Revoir!

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

http://www.wayaine.blogspot.com

waykam@yahoo.com

@WayneCamo

#France #racism #gender #politics #religion #masculinity #sustainabledevelopment #Brexit #Europe #Immigration #refugee #feminism #globalization #populism

Sometimes The Face of Depression Is In Your Mirror

“I can’t remember the last time I was happy. I have never been happy for 24 hours straight, ever in my life”. These are the words of ‘Paul’, a forty year old university graduate who has been battling depression for most of his adult life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 300 million people living with depression, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015. The WHO states that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Depression is just one of the many common mental disorders that affect a significant percentage of the Jamaican population. Data shows that 1 in every 4 Jamaicans will experience some form of mental disorder throughout hi/her lifetime. Depression can begin just about any age and can have serious implications for the depressed person as well as for his/her family. Nonetheless there is a distinction to be made between the daily emotional challenges of life and the short-lived sadness which are a direct response to such stresses. Recently, Paul and I sat down in Kingston for our discussion. Paul is approximately 5 feet 6 inches, a rather unassuming man. Paul vividly recalls not wanting to attend school in grade 6. While many of us can fondly remember our days in primary school which was characterized by a state of happiness and excitement at the thought of attending high school; the opposite was true for Paul, his life of depression was just beginning to take root and would haunt him ever since. Paul’s tone changed from one of eagerness to one of subdued caution as he brought to mind the many days of feeling sad during his primary school days. “I felt like I just had to deal with it, there was nuttin I could do, I couldn’t fight so I just dealt with it. I didn’t know I could tell my parents, even if I did I am sure they would not have done nuttin”. In dealing with depression at an early age of 12 years, Paul said “I just went to school and did my school work the best way I could”.

Persons who are depressed do not walk around with a placard announcing this fact. The face of depression is that face that looks back at you when you look in the mirror. Depressed people look like you and me. Many depressed persons manage to hold down a job while fighting the demon of depression. Sadly, not many depressed persons have been so diagnosed. Paul, however, was diagnosed with depression in his 20’s. The stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness often serves as barriers to treatment. These hurdles frequently prevent those who experience the symptoms from getting medical intervention necessary to adequately manage this medical condition. In many instances our association with mental health comes from seeing an insane person on the road eating from a garbage bin. This perception of mental illness needs to be interrogated and brought into reality that a vast number of mental disorder persons do not live like this. Whether we choose to believe or not, in every family there is at least one depressed individual.

Symptoms of Depression

The American Psychiatry Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM -5) defines depression as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression is known to be caused by an aberration of neuro-chemicals (serotonin norepinephrine) in the brain. The symptoms of depression identified by DSM- 5: are depressed mood most of the day characterized by sadness, emptiness or hopelessness; irritability or frustration, lost of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as hobbies, sleep disturbances, whether increase or decrease sleep, frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, trouble thinking, concentrating or remembering things, fatigue or loss of energy every day, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt nearly every day, significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain. DSM-5 indicates that if you have 5 or more of these symptoms, one of which must include either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in activities then you should seek medical attention. Paul is no exception to the rule and during the talk; Paul mentioned having suicidal thoughts on a number of occasions. He spoke candidly about the desire to die in a car accident. He has come to the realization that his driving has become reckless in recent times when he is alone. He stated that his appetite is not what it used to be. He has lost interest in food which is another common symptom of clinical depression. Paul said that the depression has worsened as he has gotten older. He is now forced to write down all he needs to do daily as the depression has affected his concentration and memory. A lack of interest in most things around him is yet another sign of depression which Paul has and continues to experience. Paul is often up late into the night, he has difficulty falling and or staying asleep. This sleep disturbance is also a typical symptom of depression. This inability to sleep or insomnia is a typical symptom of depression. According to Paul, there is usually a trigger for his depression. His lifelong phobia of public speaking is one such. University was challenging for Paul especially when it came around for him to do class presentations, he remembers painfully getting a C minus for Communication Task in university. A simple unavailability of public parking space is another of his triggers. In addition, Paul who identifies himself as a gay man finds his sexual orientation a significant causative factor for his depression. The concern about his financial standing and loneliness are also triggers of depression for Paul. He added that he would love to be in a relationship, to have someone to vent his ideas with, and to cheer him up.

Lacking Support Services

Paul bemoans the fact that there are not enough public health facilities in Jamaica to address the needs and concerns of those who are living with depression. He recalls that the doctor who diagnosed him as being depressed referred to him to a psychiatrist. He visited the facility on three occasions and was unable to see the psychiatrist despite having an appointment. Paul added that while there are more professionals in the private sector to treat depression and mental illness, the cost associated with seeing a psychiatrist can be prohibitive for the average Jamaican. It has become quite common for Paul to be stressed daily for up to two to three weeks at a time.

The Way Forward

Paul needs help! He ended our conversation by saying he often thinks about jumping off the roof. In spite of those frightening and poignant words, there are many success stories regarding life after depression. Some chronically depressed persons complain of feeling worse when they take the medication, this was also Paul’s experience; as a result he rarely takes his anti-depressant medication. This side effect of feeling worse can be addressed by the physician’s re-evaluation of the medication and making the appropriate changes. The way forward must include an approach which will address the psychological, medical, spiritual, social and emotional needs of the person struggling with mental disorder. Interestingly, he admits that the spiritual side of his life needs attention. Paul finds some pleasure in gardening and watching old television series such as, “Matlock”, “Murder She Wrote”. “The different mood swings that I have, my moods change quickly and often, maybe I am bipolar, that is why I need the doctor” “Five years I could have my own company and I hope by then I can beat my depression state or learn how to control it. I don’t see myself married with children and white picket fence kinda life. I know and accept I will be alone”. Depression is an illness like any other medical condition and need the attention of those trained to treat it. The consensus in the field of mental health is that the best treatment is medication plus therapy.

Here are some somber, confirming words of Adam Ant: I have suffered from depression for most of my life. It is an illness.

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

#DepressionLetsTalk

#WorldHealthDay

Easter Sunday

Jamaica over the years despite a move towards secularism still maintains a strong Judeo-Christian culture in which Jamaicans of all walks of life attend church at least twice per year, Easter and Christmas Sundays. Easter is often a time of personal reflection, as well as, spiritual rebirth and bears great significance for Christians worldwide. Today, being Easter Sunday, many Jamaican attended church of various denominations. The sermon today was preached by Pastor Roy Notice. The theme was: The Irresistible Message of the Empty Grave. According to Pastor Notice, there are four critical messages of the Empty Tomb which we must consider and remember at all times. In the first instance, the empty tomb conquers our doubts and fears as Christians and reinforces in us that death will not have the final say. Jesus Christ overcame the grave and the empty tomb and by his resurrection we too have that hope that those of us who die in Christ will also triumph over death and the grave. Secondly, the Empty Tomb conveys the Truth that evil will not win. The real power standing on resurrection power does not negotiate with evil. There is no compromise or middle ground once you are serving the true and living God. The Bible says it best; greater is He that is within us than he that is in the World. We need to spend more time in the Word of God to tend to our daily spiritual needs. The third message of the Empty Tomb is that it confirms the message that the Word of God is true. Jesus is the personification of the Resurrection. Some might be unaware of the term personification. Simply put, personification is a literary device which presents an inanimate object, idea or concept as though it were a person with human qualities and feelings. In other words, a thing or object is given a human characteristic because of some similarity between the thing and the person. Finally, the message of the Empty Tomb serves as a platform on which we should continue the message of Jesus Christ. As Christians we are empowered and tasked with continuing to spread the word of the Gospel. According to Joshua 1:9 “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” On this Easter Sunday, I wish for you and your family a Holy and Blessed Easter. I encourage you to spend some quality time to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. -2 Timothy 2:15

#EasterSunday #ResurrectionSunday

waykam@yahoo.com

@WayneCamo

Career Guidance and Technology

Undoubtedly, the fast pace of technological changes have made the digital age in which we live, work and raise families increasingly challenging to cope with. As societies progress we are witnessing more and more jobs becoming obsolete and void of job satisfaction, resulting in scores of workers finding themselves in the unemployment line. It is therefore very critical that as a society we place more emphasis on career counselling in our schools, especially at the secondary level in order to better prepare our students for the ever changing work force. Many of our students are unaware of the negative implications of automation can have on society. Artificial intelligence or (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and reacts like humans. Some of the activities computers with artificial intelligence are designed for include: speech recognition, learning and problem solving. We cannot speak on the issue of artificial intelligence without mentioning Robotics. Robotics is the science and technology behind the design, manufacturing and application of robots. Recently, Jamaica College, the Hope Road based single sex high school did extremely at the United States First Robotics Competition where they won a number of sectional prizes including the inspire and motivator Awards. More of our secondary schools should explore the possibility of venturing into the field of Robotics to expose their students to this new and exciting field. As educators we must redouble our efforts to engender a culture of career counseling within and throughout the education landscape to equip all our students with the necessary available career options. Our students at all levels of the education system must also embrace the changes in technology as they prepare to enter the workforce. It is never too late to engage technology and technological advancements. We must engage our youth with existing technology as we have no other choice. As a society we need to rethink our position regarding employment and work. The society needs to explore and implement more opportunities for employees to work from home wherever possible in a flexi day/week setting. This move towards flexi hours will unquestionably boost productivity levels and give employees an added sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Additionally, the society must work towards stimulating the minds of and encourage those students and young adults who are on the verge of selecting careers to to think outside the traditional career option box. The competition for jobs is on a global scale. The world is a global connected village in which failure to get on board will leave you behind. It is an exciting time to be on the launching pad of one’s career selection. In the words of Stephen Hawking, “everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools at AI may provide, but the eradication of war, disease and poverty would be high on anyone’s list. Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last”.

Wayne Campbell

waykam@yahoo.com

@WayneCamo

Learning Impacting Customer Service

Most of us will agree that customer service in the society leaves much to be desired. However, not many of us have made the connection between emotional intelligence (EQ) and the quality of customer experience or lack thereof that we receive on a daily basis. Dr. Robert K Cooper defines emotional intelligence as the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection and influence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand and manage one’s emotions in a positive way to relieve stress, communicate effectively with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Interestingly, emotional intelligence differs from how we view other intellectual abilities, in that emotional intelligence is a learned not an acquired skills set. Unfortunately, there is no course of study called emotional intelligence therefore there must be a way or ways found to empower and engender a culture which foster the growth of emotional intelligence among our people. Emotional intelligence is the base for a host of critical skills. Among these skills sets are; decision-making, communication, teamwork, empathy, time management, stress tolerance, accountability, trust and customer service. Uncontrolled emotions and stress can and does negatively impact one’s mental health and level of productivity. This can lead to serious health problems such as, heart attack, elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, suppress the immune system, contribute to infertility and speed up the aging process. As a society we need to ask ourselves how do we bridge the disconnect between the lack of attention we pay to emotional intelligence and the education system. One method in which we can narrow or close the gap is by way of a philosophical shift. A paradigm change is clearly needed to embrace a move towards Constructivism. The constructivism learning theory is based on the premise that the learner produces knowledge and associates meaning based on his/her experiences. Among the key pillars necessary for the learner to produce this new knowledge are assimilation and accommodation. Assimilating causes an individual to incorporate new experiences into the old experiences. As a result the individual develops new outlooks. On the other hand, accommodation, speaks to a reframing of old perceptions into the mental competence which already exits. Educators who follow Piaget’s Theory of Constructivism must see themselves as facilitators, whose role is to assist the student when it comes to their own understanding. Fascinatingly, there is a focus and responsibility shift from that of the teacher to that of the student as he or she learns. Educators need to move away from the simple recall questions in conducting summative and cumulative evaluations to higher level questions which will force the student to think and respond appropriately. Our students must be challenged in a holistic way to become critical thinkers. It is only by adapting such an approach we will see better customer service experiences in the long term for all of us who are desirous of this. In the words of the Greek philosopher, Plato, all learning has an emotional base.

Wayne Campbell

waykam@yahoo.com

@WayneCamo

Be Bold For Change

The international community paused on March 8 to acknowledge the social, political, cultural, economic achievements of women globally as well as to encourage gender parity. The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is “Be Bold For Change”.

In many societies women are discriminated against and their voice given a back seat. Disturbingly, in some countries the female fetus is often aborted as many families view girls as a burden on the economics of the family and therefore no preparation of very little is made for girls. The discrimination of girls and women globally is rooted in a patriarchal system in which the male gender is given pride of place along with privileges and benefits attached to being male. Unfortunately, many men still identify women through sexist lenses for the sole purpose of sexual gratification. The culture of entitlement to female bodies served on a platter for men’s pleasure must be interrogated and replaced. It bears thought that sexual abuse, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances are only some of the issues girls and women face daily.

View of Entitlement

This view by men of claim to the female body serves as a catalyst for, among other things, the continuation of the barbaric practice of Female Genital Mutilation of thousands of women and girls across the world each year. This violation of women’s human rights has left numerous women scarred both physically as well as psychologically. In an informal online survey carried out recently, women identified safety as being among the most pressing issues they face. In Jamaica, the issue of Gender Based Violence (GBV) is of utmost importance given the fact that many of our womenfolk have been under attack from men in recent times. In order to empower women and girls they must first feel a sense of safety regardless of their socio-economic class. This sense of security must be experience both in the public and private sphere. It only through having more women putting themselves forward for leadership that those societies will be able to break free from the cultural and historic discriminations which have held back so many women. Interestingly, except for the Nordic countries, as well as, Rwanda, female participation in governance in woefully lacking. Women are generally discouraged from entering politics and those who do enter must bear the brunt of unpleasant, sexist and unkind remarks. The society must encourage women to enter business and facilitate easy financing of same. According to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres “closing the gender gap in employment could add another US$12trillion to the global GDP by 2025”. We can and should do more work towards a more inclusive and gender equal society. There needs to be more engagement of boys and men in discussions on gender relations. At times we are tempted to think that by excluding men from the discourse pertaining to gender and interpersonal relationships that the narrative surrounding women will improve. We need to encourage and foster a culture of conflict resolution in order to arrive at solutions for many relationships which have gone bad. Men need to give more support both in practical as well as in symbolic terms to the concerns and plight of women. Gender equality is pivotal to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global plan agreed to by almost all world leaders to tackle the challenges we face. Sustainable Development Goal 5 speaks specifically to gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. It is only through attaining financial stability that women are going to free themselves from the vices and mechanisms which are in place to keep them dependent upon men. In being “Be Bold for Change” we need to promote a society and indeed a world in which women’s rights are human rights. In wishing my sisters happy international women’s day I leave the words of Mae Jemison “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live”.

#BeBoldForChange

#IWD2017

waykam@yahoo.com

@WayneCamo

Protecting Senior Citizens

“Too many of the elderly do not have the family or the communal attachments necessary to feel valued; too many are widowed or otherwise alone; too many live in surroundings where they are essentially without the companionship necessary to stimulate a mind in danger of deteriorating” – Sherwin B. Nuland

It is a topic we rarely speak about in this ‘conservative’ society. The Jamaican society for the most part still has not accepted the practice of placing the elderly in homes or infirmaries. There is a tendency and much support to care for the elderly and infirmed within the confines of the home. There is still much inclination, associated especially in some circles, to look down on those families who place their elderly members in old age homes. Notwithstanding this, one of the more common types of nursing home abuse is sexual abuse. Disturbingly, elderly nursing home residents make easy targets for sexual predators due to the fact that they are often weak and defenseless. Sexual abuse is any form of non-consensual contact, including unwanted or inappropriate touching, rape, sodomy, sexual coercion, and sexual harassment.  Sexual abuse of elderly in nursing homes can occur in numerous circumstances. This type of abuse can come from a staff employee, another resident, a stranger or even a family member. Sexual abuse of a nursing home resident by a staff employee often occurs due to the failure of the nursing home to conduct background checks on the employee. The truth is many of these jobs are low skilled, long hours and no certification posts. The lack of mandatory formal training to care for the elderly is a cause for concern and must be addressed with a sense of urgency to safeguard against the potential for abuse among this vulnerable sub-group of the population. Many nursing home residents require assistance in bathing, getting dress and going to the bathroom, this in and of itself creates opportunity for persons who are inclined to sexually abuse these residents. Many nursing homes tend to cater to both males and females. In circumstances where this co-ed exists it is very likely that the normal male and female relationship will develop, unfortunately this situation can set the stage for the abuse of one resident by another. Our elderly population placed in nursing homes requires supervision and should be encouraged to report cases of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse by a stranger oftentimes occurs because nursing homes tend to be understaffed and lack adequately supervision. This may give rise to strangers having access to the said premises and to residents of such facilities. When an individual is placed in a nursing home the spouse of that person may miss the intimacy of the relationship both shared, however, in instances where the resident’s mental or physical condition disallow consensual sexual relations between husband and wife, the sexual act may reach to the realm of sexual abuse. Data from 2011 census indicates that Jamaica’s population is ageing with some 305,000 at the age of 60 years and older. Additionally, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) stated that the fastest growing cohort of the population was the 65 years and older age group. Interestingly, the life expectancy rate of women exceeds that of men; as a result women are at a higher risk of sexual abuse since they live longer. There are some common signs we can look for which may indicate that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home. For example, unexplained difficulty with walking or sitting, unexplained sexually transmitted disease of genital infection, the presence of sperm in the vagina or anus and or the presence of fear, stress anxiety when a particular staff member approaches to give assistance with bathing, dressing or toileting. Sadly, in many societies senior citizens are often treated like second class. There needs to be partnership between the State and owners of private nursing homes to develop best practices regarding the training, operation and working conditions of employees. Senior citizens must be productively engaged regardless of their social status in the society. The time has come for the society to come to grips regarding the negative cultural attitudes surrounding the value or lack thereof we place on our senior citizens in order to have a more inclusive society in which everyone is valued. Given advances in technology and medicine we too will likely live to that age where we will require care and assistance. We need to demand that our senior citizens are well taken care of whether in or out of nursing homes. As a society we need to get more involved in the proper care and protection of our elderly. The society needs to work towards a zero tolerance approach regarding the sexual abuse of our senior citizens. In the words of Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age and grey hairs, I am he; I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

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

#population #rape #seniorcitizens #culture #discrimination #technology