|Winner of the Cool Kidz??Award, Jonathan Peter, smiles for a picture with Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, Robert??Morris and CARICOM??Youth Ambassador, Christa Soleyn.?? (Picture courtesy of??Ashlee Cox of the Barbados Advocate)??|
One of CARICOM’s weaknesses is that its citizens do not know enough about the regional body.
This was acknowledged by Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, Robert Morris, who has declared that more must be done to educate the region’s youth about CARICOM.
Stating that sensitisation on CARICOM should occur not only within the formal classroom setting, Ambassador Morris said he believed that education and sharing of knowledge on CARICOM should also take place in informal setting such as clubs, church associations and other youth groups.
He made this statement recently during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service at the CARICOM Quiz and CARICOM Cool Kidz prize giving ceremony for the Bridging the Gap Programme at the Alexandra School, Speighstown, St. Peter.
Bridging the Gap is an initiative of Principal of the Alexandra School, Jeff Broomes, which was designed to help incoming first year students have a smooth transition into secondary school.??
The programme was hosted by CARICOM Youth Ambassador, Christa Soleyn and included sessions about the regional body.?? It featured a quiz where students were divided into competing categories with the winning group being awarded, and the most outstanding child being crowned the CARICOM Cool Kid.??
Praising the Youth Ambassador for the role she played, Mr. Morris contended at: "When you start to embed that knowledge in children’s mind from the early days, you can bet that they will grow with a consciousness of CARICOM and they will keep their eyes and ears open about anything that happens to the regional movement… I wouldn’t be surprised [to see] that when these children get older they would want to be involved in the CARICOM movement."
Pointing out that more awareness building exercises could be done in the formal teaching structure, he said: "Education is key to creating that knowledge about CARICOM amongst the youth.?? We [CARICOM] have to develop programmes for teaching in the schools… of course, certain curriculum areas such as Social Studies and Caribbean History already teach about CARICOM [but that is not enough]."
Ambassador Morris emphasised that the regional body should also make use of the informal teaching settings. "I think that the CARICOM offices should ensure that they are well qualified lecturers that could go out and teach young people in whatever forum they are in, whether it is clubs[or] church groups…" he maintained.
Adding that competitions, debates and other social activities would also be effective sensitisation tools, he thanked CARICOM Youth Ambassador, Christa Soleyn and her team for hosting the Bridging the Gap Programme and including sessions that taught the students about the regional body.
According to him: "…It reinforces that it is a very good idea to make sure that young people are involved at the level where they can spread the message about CARICOM. ??The children were taught the essentials of CARICOM, their knowledge was tested and as a result they are being rewarded."