Programme Action Officer with Soroptimist International of Barbados, Danielle Maycock (second from left), explaining the type of books available in the new Library and Resource Centre to (from left) ??Federation ??President of Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Patricia Black; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Lucene Wharton-Issac; and patron of Soroptimist International of Barbados, Senator Frances Chandler. Partly hidden at left??is Sisporansa Stanford, president of Soroptimist International of Barbados. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The Government Industrial School (GIS) continues to produce residents that go on to excel in academics and, by extension, society.

Principal of the Female Unit, located at Barrow’s, St. Lucy, Erwin Leacock, explained that a lot of these achievements went under the radar because the school had to protect the dignity of these individuals.

Mr. Leacock made this disclosure today, during the opening of a Library and Resource Centre, donated by the Soroptimist International of Barbados, at the institution.

The school has the legal responsibility of keeping in secure custody, juveniles – under the age of 16 – who are sent there by the law courts. Residents must have been accused and charged by the police for committing an offence.

"The Resource Centre that the Soroptimists facilitated is welcomed because it forms part of the education of these young women. A lot of people may be aware, or unaware, that the education here is not token. We have a full slate of CXC subjects and the certification. We have a number of young ladies who have received their full education here and have gone on to [the Barbados] Community College or university. But all of this has been done deliberately under the radar because we have to respect the dignity of those persons," Mr. Leacock pointed out.

He added that the young ladies at the GIS were referred to as ???residents’ because the institution, which currently had a complement of 20 females, was viewed as their home. The principal lauded the Soroptimist International of Barbados for the continued commitment to the school, adding that they had become part of the family, as well as much needed surrogates to the residents.

"One of the things we follow diligently is to appreciate that we admit girls into our custody but we discharge women and it is our responsibility to ensure that just like a parent, we socialise them, we mentor them, [and] we educate them to be successful and independent women,"Mr. Leacock emphasised.

President of the Soroptimist International of Barbados, Sisporansa Stanford, said the club donated the Library and Resource Centre as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations. She urged the residents to take full advantage of the facility since women in some parts of the world were not allowed the privilege to read or to be educated.

"As Soroptimists, we encourage education and we seek to empower young girls and young women. This is part of our initiative to strengthen and empower young women to become leaders and to be independent and to hold their heads up high. The information in your Resource Centre is for you do be educated, to have knowledge, [and] to effect change. Therefore, I ask you to care these books, care these materials for the others who will be coming after you. Take advantage of these resources," she stressed.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Lucene Wharton-Isaac, officially declared the centre open. She said the Soroptimist International of Barbados had proven to be a very valued partner both to the GIS and the Ministry over the years.

"The club has established very cordial relationships and implemented several mentorship programmes especially to assist the female residents at the school in building their self-esteem; improving their self-worth; their general deportment and developing interpersonal and communication skills through a series of workshops and other educational programmes," Mrs. Wharton-Issac asserted.

In addition to this, the Permanent Secretary said a local chapter of the club was undertaking another initiative that would cater to "at risk" youth.

"This project is intended to be a residential facility. We look forward to the realisation of this project. We know there have been a few challenges along the way and we will continue to give you our support. We will continue our intervention with the Ministry of Housing and Lands so that we can come to a conclusion shortly with the provision of a suitable area of land.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs appreciates all of the efforts and initiatives taken by Soroptimist International of Barbados and we are sure that this centre will have a very positive impact on the female residents. It will be recognised as a great resource for education and will enhance their lives," she declared.


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