This week, I attended a two-day conference consisting of chief education officers and teachers’ union leaders from Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, and St. Vincent & The Grenadines. Also present was a management consultant from Jamaica and a Trinidadian woman from UNICEF.
There was a presentation from the consultant and then questions and comments from the audience. I knew I had issues I needed to raise concerning the way forward mentioned in the presentation and was just waiting for the right opportunity. I have to say, it is interesting to contribute knowing I was the only person not of the Caribbean and that the education system still contains oppressive hold-overs from colonialism. There were no outward displays of animosity though and I think many in the room agreed with my comments – phew.
After listening to the comments of others, they were getting increasingly passionate. Comments were on point and with the way they were presented, I would have wanted to clap even if they were speaking in a different language. I knew I couldn’t live up to the same level of passion and clarity of speech but I did it anyway – phew.
Today, Friday, I am back working in the office and focusing on the sexual exploitation awareness project I am working on with Amanda, a fellow student (& roommate). The program will likely be called “Preventing Exploitation with Artistic Community Engagement” with the acronym of “PEACE” (I do still enjoy naming programs with cool acronyms).
Lessons of plays, videos, interactive lectures and one hour of art include:
- Sexual Exploitation
- Drugs & Alcohol
- Media (masculinity/femininity)
- Social Change
Amanda and I will co-facilitate each lesson and I am focusing my planning on lessons 2 and 4 combined with their use in sexual exploitation.
The first program will occur over five weeks in a Castries secondary school starting next week. Excitingly, there are a number of agencies wanting to continue the program in a variety of settings across the island of St. Lucia. The Education Management Development Unit of OECS is also interested in expanding the program across its ten member countries (the ones from the conference plus Martinique).
It is also important to note that the project is based, in part, on Amanda’s work with Children of the Street Society in British Columbia, Canada. While the content needed to be adapted to Eastern Caribbean realities, the concept and many of the plays are coming from their program.