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Message from the Principal: Take Back our Children
We have just marked Mother’s Day and in a few weeks we will celebrate Father’s Day. Both are meant to recognize the important role played by parents in the family unit and in society. As we pay tribute to their invaluable contribution to family development, I am at the same time concerned about the pressures faced by many families in today’s society and the urgent need for families to inculcate the right values in our children so that they can lead successful and fulfilling lives.
Like many across the globe, our society is grappling with a growing number of issues - substance abuse, domestic violence, gang activity, divorce, peer pressure, bullying, to name a few - and the psychological effect these are having on our young people, often negatively affecting their performance in school and, later, in the world of work.
As Principal of a Campus with more than 19,000 students, male achievement in education is of primary concern to me. I see this as directly linked to addressing broader societal issues and the health of our families and of our nation. This concern calls on us to focus on the importance of positive family values – love, respect, discipline, mentorship, togetherness – and a community approach to raising our children. Our society must come together to protect our children, to encourage them to be excited about education and to have a thirst for knowledge beyond studying to pass exams.
Based on our own data and analysis, our young males, in particular, seem to be losing interest in pursuing higher education. More and more they seem to be underrepresented in education but overrepresented in criminal activity. This is cause for grave concern since it will affect not only the demographics of our schools, universities and workplaces but ultimately the dynamics of human relations in our society. It is our collective responsibility to fix this.
At The UWI, we are questioning these issues and looking at creative ways to attract more male students to university life. Be it through new types of academic programmes with strong practical and application components, new technology-intensive modes of course delivery or the integration of social media, Caribbean music or sports, we must bring our sons back to education. Our society needs them; our families of the future depend on them.
One of the projects funded by The UWI – the Trinidad and Tobago Research and Development Impact Fund - is examining the issue of at-risk youth in schools through targeted interventions involving psychological testing as well as individual and group counselling. In June we will host an At Risk Youth Conference to share the findings of this research, propose strategies to reduce violence in schools and present a preliminary White Paper that makes specific recommendations for strengthening national policy and legislation on this issue.
As an educator, I believe that a large part of the rescue effort must take the form of helping young males understand the value of knowledge, the difference between memorization and learning, the importance of investing time and effort in one’s own development, appreciating education in its broadest sense, and in having to make sacrifices in order to achieve set goals. Certainly, what is often presented on television as overnight success, does not happen overnight.
No matter your socio-economic background, access to quality tertiary education (as we have in Trinidad and Tobago through the GATE facility) can transform young people’s lives forever. We need our mothers and fathers to support our efforts as a university and help ‘take back our children’, particularly our young males, and reclaim them from the lure of ‘the fast life’ and ‘quick money’. We need to instil good values and nurture a generation of respectful citizens who are committed to building a country of which we can all be extremely proud in years to come.
Pro Vice Chancellor & Principal
Campus Principal: Professor Clement Sankat
Director of Marketing and Communications: Mrs. Dawn-Marie De
Director of Marketing and Communications (Ag.): Mrs. Wynell Gregorio
Editor: Mrs. Maria Rivas-McMillan
The UWI Marketing and Communications Office
Tel: (868) 662-2002 exts. 82013, 82014