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

Time To Break The Culture Of Silence

“Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul”. –Dave Pelzer

The abuse of children is most vile and despicable especially when those in positions of trust and power are involved in committing such an act. The sex scandal now rocking the Moravian church seems to be getting from bad to worse. While sex abuse and molestation of minors is not new regarding the church, this episode is close to home and has served to turn the spotlight on an evil which has been taking place under the cloak of religiosity and plaguing the society for many years. Sadly, too many of us choose to turn a blind eye to the evil around us whether in our communities and or the wider society. Ironically, it’s not until the same wickedness confront us or those close to us that we realize that evil is evil regardless of the perpetrator. The time to interrogate and break the culture of silence is now as our children continue to experience hurt which inevitable will damage their sense of self and personhood. The sexual exploitation of our children must be tackled with a sense of urgency and agency. It is disturbing and unacceptable that sexual grooming and harassment can and does take place in our churches and schools, the very same institutions which should provide comfort, safety and security for our children. The wider church community has been rather lukewarm in their condemnation and rebuke of the scandal now impacting the church. The church is seemingly more vocal and forceful in their criticism of issues, such as casino gambling than the sexual abuse of children.

Preying On The Vulnerable

In many instances perpetrators of sexual abuse have a knack of identifying those youngsters with low self-esteem issues in order to prey upon them. The government needs to work in eradicating poverty in the society since this social condition is usually the trigger for many who prey and exploit our children and those most vulnerable in the society. According the United Nations (UN), poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. The shame to report cases of child abuse rests with those who have knowledge of the abuse and refuse from going forward to report same. It is so very appalling that so many of our youngsters have to face such acts of immorality and violation alone. Notwithstanding the gravity of sexual abuse, bullying and the sexual exploitation of our youngsters we cannot roll over and play dead.

Way Forward

In order to restore the social order of the society as well as heal and soothe wounded souls we need to re-design the socialization process in the wider community in which we see all children as belonging to the people. This new way of thinking must be viewed as our collective responsibility to look out for the well-being of all children. The society needs to use the legislative framework to give more support to our abused children. The fine under the Child Care and Protection Act of $500,000 for failure to report suspected cases of child abuse is a joke and does not serve as a deterrent, this fine need to be revisited. The grim reality is that for many survivors of sexual abuse they will not get justice in a courthouse. Justice for some victims comes in various forms. Many victims they have put aside the sad memory and moved on to some extent with their lives. Our justice system is rather slow in its delivery and for many the thought of testifying in open court is just too much. Additionally, the strengthening of state agencies, mandated to protect the rights of our children, need adequate funding in order to carry out their core functions. A society which fails to protect its most vulnerable obviously needs to recalibrate its moral compass and reassesses its value system.

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

#morality #childabuse #BreakTheSilence #childrenrights #religion #culture

waykam@yahoo.com

@WayneCamo

Reflection

People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering. -St. Augustine

As we close out 2016, let us take time to self-reflect in order to see how best we can contribute in making 2017 a better year both for ourselves and humanity. #HappyNewYearsEve

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

 

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.

#genderbasedviolence #masculinity #socialization #OrangeTheWorld #Jamaica

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