By Dr Neals J. Chitan
From our extensive crime reduction work across North America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, I have concluded that the community-driven crime and homicides that plague our Caribbean region can be seriously mitigated by creating a thirst for success among our boys. If the truth be told, we will agree that most incidences of community crime are committed by young men who have fallen through the academic cracks in high school and are caught within a cycle of failure, frustration, hopelessness and anger.
As we take a closer look at the prison population in the Caribbean, we notice that it comprises over 95 percent males with over 60 percent of them young adults who have re-offended and returned to jail more than once. There is a serious need to clot this acute social bleeding of our young men and we must take an intentional look at the root causes if we hope to plug the wound.
You see, when as educators we impatiently and intolerantly profile, suspend or expel a male high school student, we begin the downward spiral and a self-fulfilling prophecy which very frequently feed the community gang subculture and produce criminal elements on our streets.
In my interventive work with high school boys, and furthermore my rehabilitative work within prisons, I have found that a great percentage of our boys get washed into high school unprepared, unfocused and without any idea or plan as to what they are maturing into. And so, without target-focused existence, they simply survive day after day, casually going through the motions of high school life until challenge, frustration and anger get the better of them, declaring them drop-outs.
With no success to further inspire their creativity and drive their un-stimulated brilliant minds into fruitful productivity, frustration overwhelms them and the need for mere survival drives them into immoral, uncivilized and criminal activity to meet basic needs.
It is unbelievable how brilliant these same young men are! When I meet them in prisons and hear about the academic excellence they were able to achieve while incarcerated, I realize that we are locking away some of our brightest minds, totally condemning them to a life of desperation, depression and un-productivity when really, just a bit of inspiration, plan and focus along with a caring arm around the shoulder could have made a productive citizen out of them.
It is with the seriousness of this situation in mind that we launched our copyrighted “GRADE SIX STUDENTS IN TRANSITION” program across the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis in 2017-2018 with the direct intention to reduce the incidences of high school drop-out (with emphasis on boys) in their eight secondary schools.
The goal was to motivate, inspire and equip all grade six students going into high school with the same concepts and strategies that will increase their passion, drive and determination to keep focused on a specific career path as they matriculate through the five years of high school.
After engaging 216 high impact social skill empowerment sessions to 673 grade sixers from 27 primary schools across the Federation, we were confident that every student was given a chance to look at their innate talents, skills and abilities and excitingly discover the career path that these can take them on.
The series of eight sessions dealt with topics like:
- Discovering who you are and the greatness in you
- Not believing the LIES
- Building my own dream
- Determination and courage to get it
- Good attitude, work ethics and friends-keys to success
- Getting up and moving on when life gets unfair
- Be careful of the habits and relationships you build
- Stop and think to save your future, safety and dream
Loaded with powerful social skill concepts, these high impact sessions created an insatiable appetite for success in last year’s batch of grade sixers. In June 2018, as the 673 of them gathered at the St Kitts Marriott Hotel ballroom for the national grade six students in transition career Jamboree, aspiring doctors, firemen, policemen, carpenters, teachers, pilots, mechanics, scientists and many more, proudly and exuberantly showcased their professional attire and business cards to the world.
This year again, on July 01, 2019, another batch of over 700 grade six aspiring professionals will be congregating at the Warner Park Stadium in Basseterre for the 2nd annual grade six students in transition career Jamboree – the culmination of a second year of inspiring, motivating and equipping students for success in high school in September 2019.
On July 01, 2019, we will again be igniting a national explosion of energy, excitement and focused expectation in St Kitts and Nevis that will hopefully keep burning in the minds of our students, thus keeping them steadily climbing the ladder of success, instead of falling off frustrated hopeless and angry while feeding the vicious cycle of drugs, guns and crime in our communities.