Some 20 students representing 22 secondary schools across Barbados are this week in session at United Nations (UN) House, to learn how to effectively utilise traditional and new media technology. At the end of the exercise, they are expected to be better able to express their views and facilitate debate on issues relevant to their peers and national development.??

The four-and-a-half-day workshop in Adolescent Media Training is being hosted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in association with the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, and is part of the School’s Positive Behaviour Management Programme/Child Friendly Schools initiative, currently in use at 33 schools islandwide.??

While delivering remarks at today’s opening, Deputy Chief Education Officer, Joy Adamson, welcomed the introduction of such training to Barbados, noting that similar coaching had already been provided in Antigua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.?? The overall objective, she explained, was to provide young people with the expertise to use technology for good purposes. The pupils, aged 13-18 years old, were selected by their individual student councils.

"I do not believe that children are empty vessels that need to be filled.?? It is my Ministry’s belief that you [young people], your thoughts, your opinions, your ideas and your innovations, should be respected by adults.?? We are not to fear you.?? I find too often that adults, dismiss things that they are unfamiliar with.?? They say I don’t understand the music, therefore, I am not going to listen to it.?? They don’t have a Facebook account and they don’t know what it’s about, so let’s ban Facebook… We need to educate our young people that Facebook can be used beyond chatting with friends and sharing pictures… So, for some, the idea is ban, ban, ban and I do not believe that is the answer…?? We will probably be losing a battle with technology … if we do not embrace the media and the technology and utilise them to the best of our abilities," she stressed.

UNICEF Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Khin-Sandi Lwin, added that the underlying objective of the workshop was to ensure that her agency interfaced more with young people to make certain that they knew their rights and could articulate topics of interest or of concern to them.??

"One of the first sessions that you will have… is on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.?? What are the rights and the issues of violation?We want to help you acquire the skills and the power of the media…Without training you are using your cell phones, YouTube, Facebook and everything that you have access to, but if you have the right skills to use the tools, then it cannot just be between young people, but it can be used to communicate to adults who may not be as aware as we think they ??are about how you feel, and your perspectives of what your issues are," the UN official said.

Media professional and one of the facilitators, Julius Gittens, outlined that adolescents were at this stage, more than any other, forging their own identity but needed guidance on how to communicate effectively.??

"We want to help them to flex their self-expression muscle to be able to not only use video and comic strips especially to communicate their concerns, their dreams, their hopes, their fears, but also, to use the Convention on the Rights of the
Child as the basis of expression…I think this is the best time for them, as they are learning to become adults, to learn how to communicate; to learn how to solve problems through communication rather than to close their minds, viewpoints and vision because of an inability to communicate, or because nobody wants to hear what they have to say," Mr. Gittens shared.??

The training is being facilitated by Faith Motion Video and has as its basis Article 13 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child, which states: "The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice."??

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