Renowned feminist thinker Most Honourable Professor Eudine Barriteau has advocated that Government pump money into expanding the services of the famed parent educator PAREDOS across more communities to fight raging social issues.
The principal of the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill wants to see PAREDOS – Parent Education for Development in Barbados – join forces with the professional association of social workers to receive greater support from both Government and the business community for their work.
Professor Barriteau said that an investment in the strengthening of PAREDOS and placing social workers in primary and secondary schools was an overdue policy decision that would bring great benefits to society.
She said: “The expanded contributions to be made by social workers are grossly under estimated and underrepresented in planning for the improved society we all want.
“The professional services of social workers have to be taken seriously.
“All the primary and secondary schools should have at least one social worker along with a psychological counsellor.
“The schools with larger populations may also require access to psychiatric services.”
She suggested that if Government wanted to alter the creeping culture of young people using bullying and other abusive behaviours to cope, there was need to invest fearlessly and boldly in long-term social policies that benefit the entire society and introduce improvements in the educational system.
The UWI Pro Vice Chancellor gave her full support to Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw’s suggestion that parenting skills should be decentralised and offered within various communities throughout the country.
Professor Barriteau said: “The prevalence of young men shooting and killing each other are symptoms of economic hardships and deprivation, failed families, overburdened mothers, absent fathers, declining community and extra-curricular programmes in schools.
“We cannot blame the decline on any one sector of the society. It is our collective responsibility and our collective failure.
“Yet, Government has an overarching responsibility to protect the public good.”
The UWI principal made the suggestions as delivered remarks at the Ellerslie School Speech Day and Prize Giving Ceremony, held at the UWI’s Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.
Professor Barriteau praised 47-year-old PAREDOS for doing “remarkable work” in providing training and counselling to parents and children and improve family life through better child-rearing practices.
She said: “Our young children and their parents need more of this. The volunteer basis of most of its service delivery has to become formalized and structured. PAREDOS now needs to be upgraded with personnel and resources.
“There should be offices in every parish and more in major urban areas. These offices should be staffed by social workers who are paid by Government.”
Declaring that 2019 was not the same Barbados as 1969, she said she did not believe that the surge in violence was as a result of the evaporation of Barbadian values which she suggested were no longer by themselves sufficient to protect young children from the massive digital dumping of all kinds of information, most of which she said was useless and time wasting.
The academic indicated that while investing in providing sustainable support to produce well-adjusted citizens was the best insurance policy, she was aware that there were some who prescribed to the belief that the government that governs least by spending less, governs best.
But Professor Barriteau noted that such a view often masks a desire to have Government spend in other areas perceived to be far more important.
She declared: “I want to caution policy makers not to be persuaded by that kind of thinking.
“Government expenditure on social programmes is an investment in the economy of the country, in the reputation of the country, in the future of earning power of these boys and girls sitting here, and who are in every kindergarten, primary and secondary school in Barbados.
“Investment in social programmes produces far greater returns on investment than an investment in local and international public relations consultants to clean up the image of Barbados when the tourism product is endangered because crime is growing out of control.
“Investment in social programmes produced far greater returns than an investment in security guards for schools, and more prison officers or correction officers for the prisons and juvenile detention facilities”