You could well imagine how this became my personal motto and educational anthem, as I felt as though Gypsy was prodding me and all little, black Nevisian boys to valiantly pursue their education and make someone of themselves; someone whom their families, communities and country would be proud to associate with and call their “son”.
Presently, however, it grieves my heart when I observe some of the cold and harsh challenges which bedevil our nation because instead of exhibiting ambition and going to school to try to better their circumstances, too many of our boys seem satisfied with sitting on the sidewalk or standing on the sideline!
Instead of working feverishly to graduate with 5 distinctions or immersing themselves in the work of wholesome school organizations and community groups, such as the Junior Achievers or H.O.P.E Nevis, there are too many young men who prefer to plunge head first into gangs to wreak further havoc on our society.
Rather than strive to achieve the accomplishments attained by the likes of Eustace Theo Wallace; a 26 year old OECS diplomat in Belgium and the son of Hyacinth Forbes of Hamilton, too many of our boys are quite content, if not intent on lining the rum shops and the street corners. It apparently is not an issue for them to leave school with NOTHING and continue to depend on their parents for EVERYTHING!
While it is certainly not my aim to detract from the achievements of those upstanding young men who have done us proud in school examinations, debate competitions, their record of community service and general exemplary lifestyle, there are just too many who are nowhere to be seen whenever they hear the words; “WORK”, “HONESTY” and “RESPONSIBILITIES”. This is not good enough. Our young men must do better and at every turn, we the community must encourage them to do better!
We need more young men who are willing to work to rise to the ranks of prominent lawyers and politicians such as the esteemed Attorney General, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett or the Federal Leader of the Opposition, the ever eloquent Hon. Mark Brantley.
I am eager to see the young men who will take over from popular radio personalities like Mr. Evered “Webbo” Herbert on VON Radio and Mr. Wrensford Dore on Choice FM.
I want to see less young men in the jail cells and more of them in our classrooms, taking on the important national responsibility of shaping the minds of other boys in the manner that is presently being done by Mr. Adonis Rivers at Charlestown Primary and Mr. Rohan Isles at St. Thomas Primary.
I’m almost certain that my good friend, Dr. Cardel “Bal” Rawlins would love to know that when he decides to hang up his coat and put aside his scalpel, there will be dozens of young, ambitious male doctors in the waiting room ready to take over from him, as opposed to more of our young men in the surgical ward, waiting for their gunshot wounds to be operated upon!
However, if these things are to be attained, then our little black boys must pick up a book and put down the gun! They must develop some basic and intrinsic ambition to excel in life; understanding that there is a church, government and community to support them.
While I sound the clarion call for our boys to stand up and stand out, I believe that there are several things that we as a community can do to spur them onward. For instance, I have heard several prominent Nevisians voices, such as Everton “Obi” Elliot, Dan MacMullin and Ron Daniel; repeatedly make the call for the establishment of a Big Brother program in our schools. While I believe that the Ministry of Social Development has implemented this program in some of the primary schools, such a program is most needed in the secondary schools where peer pressure is most acute and a number of our boys tend to lose their way.
I believe Mr. Daniel, in particular, went even further by suggesting that all community groups develop a Big Brother component as part of their social outreach. This I thought to be an excellent suggestion and personifies the “all hands on deck” approach that is required if we are to pull our boys back from the precipice of doom and gloom.
I am also aware that the Ministry of Social Development instituted a program about 3 years ago whereby they send young men in the community to Trinidad for 6th months training in various technical fields. I consider this an outstanding initiative, which provides our young men with an opportunity to improve their socio-economic standing and reorient themselves into society. I encourage the NIA to build on this program and we must also encourage the boys in our respective communities to avail themselves of such opportunities for advancement.
I also suggest that the NIA introduce the D.A.R.E program in the secondary schools and in due course, expand its homework assistance program to students at this level of learning.
Additionally, greater investments must be made in training teachers in Special Education to deal with those students at the A3 and A4 streams in our institutions of secondary learning. Having briefly taught at this level, I have realised firsthand how several of our boys fall through the cracks and part of the reason, in my opinion, is because we do not have sufficient teachers in our secondary schools that are particularly attuned to the specific and peculiar needs of these students.
Finally, I must recommend to Mr. Herbert at VON Radio to resume playing that song by Gypsy every morning, just like the good old days. Hopefully, it would inspire more of our little black boys to be vigorous in their academic pursuits, to be of utmost value to themselves and from here on out, truly go to school and LEARN!