The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Cave Hill Campus is being called upon to rally its intellectual resources to help guide the country’s at-risk men away from crime.
Minister of Entrepreneurship, Small Business and Commerce was reacting to January’s unprecedented spate of violence, which claimed the lives of nine people and which this weekend prompted some Barbadians to launch a season of prayer.
Amid promises from the country’s law enforcement and political leaders of a firm response to the country’s social problems, Minister Sutherland was adamant that academic institutions also had a role to play in the fight.
“Your role must be to mentor these young men and with the help of the village elders, guide in the development of their soft skills, to allow them not only to eek out a daily living, but to help them to develop legitimate business enterprises,” he said.
Sutherland was addressing high-ranking UWI officials on Monday morning at the official signing of a memorandum of understanding between the university and Pitchlt Caribbean for the facilitation of new business development and entrepreneurial courses.
“I can readily identify the need for our academic institutions to meaningfully embrace our young people, especially our at-risk male youths, who live in the catchment communities of the University of the West Indies,” he said, adding that in his opinion men were most troubled.
“Males are challenged in this country and if you continue to look around at what is happening today, it’s not the females, it’s the males. Hence my deliberate mention of the males, and the need to rescue the males.
“Room must be found to engage the ideas and innovations of our disadvantaged youth, including our males who are not wired to conform to the status quo and who, if left unchecked, will use their creative energies for less than desired, productive national outcomes and we continue to see that,” he said.
Sutherland added that while many of Barbados’s at-risk youth may not necessarily thrive within a formal university environment, the university population had an obligation to find meaningful ways to engage surrounding communities.
“Please note that I am in no way suggesting that these persons be brought onto campus in breach of the university admission policy or into any unfamiliar environment where intimidation would render them incapable of surviving. I am in no way suggesting that, but rather as academics raised by the village yourself and like myself, it is my view that you have a national responsibility to give back to your own and to develop these communities through relevant life long interventions,” he said.