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Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Professor Barry Chevannes, has called on the society to engage in the re-socialization of the country’s youth.
Professor Chevannes, who was speaking on (Nov. 28) at the National Youth Service’s (NYS) second annual public lecture at Hilton Kingston Hotel on the topic: ‘The Re-socialisation Agenda: Taking Responsibility for Transitioning to Pro-Social Living’ said that young men between the ages of 13 and 35 are responsible for the majority of crimes that are being committed in the country.
He noted that while the average person arrested for murder last year were young males, 11 young women in the 16 to 30 age group were also arrested.
According to the social scientist, the education system is one of the key agents for molding and shaping the values and ideals of the youth, but schools are failing to carry out their role as an agent of socialization, due to several factors, including overcrowded classrooms and the de-valuation of the teaching profession.
“While we have paid a lot of attention to building schools.we have not paid a lot of attention to our teachers and the teaching profession. What has happened is that the more schools we build, the more devalued our teachers have become through inadequate working conditions, low pay and huge schools,” he said.
“No school, if it is really a socialization agent, should have more than 500 or 600 pupils. In that environment, every teacher ought to know every student thus being able to extend to each of them, the sort of caring, nurturing attitude that they need to display as a socialization agent,” he pointed out.
Professor Chevannes also cited the introduction of the shift system in secondary schools as a major hindrance in the socialization process, adding that the government’s decision to phase out the system must be commended.
“You get up early in the morning to reach school at 7:00 a.m or 7:30 a.m and at 12 o’clock you exit school for another shift of students to come in, so what have they been doing all morning while their parents have gone to work. Under whose guidance have they been all that time?” he asked.
Empowering the family, and valuing the role of men as role models and counsellors, he noted, is also crucial in the socialization process. “The family is under considerable pressure. It is well known that the incidence of poverty is highest where you have single female headed households,” he said.
“Men are not able to stay in families that are experiencing that type of corrosive effect of poverty because they are not able to be providers and if they can’t be providers, they can’t stay in the family and this undermines the socializing role that a father plays both as a role model and guardian and counsellor to his children, particularly his son,” he pointed out.
The University Professor also noted that the church and the community have a role to play in inculcating the right values and morals in the young.