Confronting crime — Part 2
Beyond policing and on to the role of educationSunday, June 06, 2021
Clinton A Hutton
National Hero Marcus Garvey, who came from a long line of anti-slavery/anti-colonial fighters, had a profoundly deep grasp of this slavery/colonial construct and waged a determined philosophical, political and pedagogical struggle against it. Fortunately for us, multiple volumes of Garvey's philosophy and opinions, his policy statements and initiatives, as well as his pedagogy dealing with this colonial and internalised colonial problem are available to help guide us out of this existential cul-de-sac, if we are so inclined.
For the 468 years of slavery and post-slavery colonialism, the schooling and educating of our people, informally and formally, were aimed at framing an identity and an agency to conform to a belief system rooted in white superiority and black inferiority. Put another way, for 468 years schooling and education in Jamaica were not centrally rooted in the three 'Rs', but on the shaping of black identity as an agency in the service of whiteness. They were rooted in a philosophy, a curriculum, and pedagogy of black self-denial: That sense of value and agency of worth realisable only to the extent that black people became masters of the imagery, psychology, and notion of blackness designed by whiteness.
Unfortunately, this system of schooling and education, to an important degree, continues to operate nearly 60 years after Independence. Its focus is now on the three 'Rs' while wilfully avoiding the continued presence and agency of the colonial philosophy of being, faculty of interpretation, psychology, and pedagogy. It has become part of the Independence, political, philosophical, and pedagogical landscape. And so, in the days of their lives, many of our young men who are in a continuous struggle to prove that they are men engage in the perpetual re-enactment of plantation sexism and racism, which we have internalised and failed to dismantle to an important degree.
The neglected communities in which these 20 schools of which Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang spoke in February are located are largely violence-prone sites in which socially, politically, and economically marginalised young men compete with each other in gangs for respect, power, and control over resources. They do not constitute all of the young men in each community, but they are at the centre of its struggle for control.
Some of the characteristic features of these communities are:
(1) high levels of unemployment;
(2) power is often concentrated in the hands of young men who are often in gangs;
(3) male-male conflict for dominance, tends to be an ongoing existential reality;
(4) the space is ontologically a hyper-masculine entity in which social relation seems to express itself in the internalised rituals and rhetoric of the late plantation patriarchy;
(5) homicide is more prevalent in this space compared to other spaces;
(6) the gun seems to be the main symbol of power, authority, and male sexuality;
(7) the pursuit of education, that is, the three 'Rs', tends to be regarded as feminine;
(8) the relationship with the police is too often in the mode of raids and (temporary) occupation; and
(9) alienation is rife.
Although I cannot expand my thoughts here, apart from hiring high-performing principals to be in charge of the schools in these communities, as well as appreciatively increasing the ratio of male teachers, we have to reconfigure the physical/psychological learning environment along with a reconfigured curriculum and pedagogy respecting the teaching of boys the three 'Rs'. A good successful example of this is the Mico's Pre-University Men's Programme (PUMP).
But the teaching/un-teaching of the philosophy of self and agency — the most pervasive continuous mode of schooling and education this country has experienced — must be dealt with, with a sense of conscious appropriate urgency. And, if truth be told, there are people in this country who are uneasy with interrogating the colonial philosophy of knowledge, identity, and agency, which pervaded Jamaica's pedagogical landscape. To them it violates the national motto with divisiveness, inspires or stirs up hate, and urges us to get over it, as it is the historic-emotional and interpretative state of being, which is not real and has nothing to do with learning and identity after 1962.
Connected to this is the need to institute an official mentorship programme in these schools to mentor/counsel/coach boys in life's journey, self-connectivity, self-discovery, self-realisation, self-actualisation, character-building, civic-mindedness, career pathways, etc. The need for a robust ongoing verifiable mentorship programme comprising parents and teachers, guidance counsellors, deans of discipline, coaches, professionals, entrepreneurs, etc — some trained and certified in the principles of mentorship — as a formal part of the secondary school system, cannot be overstated. This kind of formal intervention could be immensely useful in schools in general, but specifically in schools located in the communities under discussion.
It takes over 60 times the amount of money to keep a young man in prison annually than in school. Put another way, what it takes to keep a young man in prison for one year could keep over 60 young men in school for the same length of time. That is what it is currently costing taxpayers to keep a prisoner in prison for a year compared to keeping a student in secondary school for the same time.
Then there are the various costs for hospital equipment and care expertise needed to treat the injuries of victims of violent attacks that would lead some perpetrators to their imprisonment. Factor into this the costs to the economy of people with their varying levels of expertise, ingenuity, and labour skills taken out of the productive process in the short term, medium term, or permanently, because of violence done to them. Then factor into this the socio-cultural, emotional, psychological, mental costs of violence to the victims' families, the community, and the nation. Factor into this the pedagogical costs. And this is only looking at violent crime, not crime in all its categories.
At the level of emotion, psychology, safety, etc, the public health consequences of crime for the nation and the economy are huge. The view on dealing effectively with the crime as reportedly expressed by Dr Chang in the Jamaica Observer, posits a multi-sector approach. In other words, it requires more than policing to come to grips with the crime problem. I agree with that assessment and hope to see the requisite policy shifts to take crime fighting beyond policing.
Clinton A Hutton, PhD, is director of the Institute of Technological and Educational Research, Mico University College, and retired professor of Caribbean
political philosophy, culture and aesthetics at The University of the West Indies. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or email@example.com.
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