Today in “Samson on the Wall” I am going to further weigh in on the case of the Rastafari parents charged for failing to send their two children to school. It is heart-warming to see the response of the wider Barbadian public in support of the family, especially after viewing a short video clip of the 12 year old son reading the section of the Constitution of Barbados relevant to this case. This showed the public that the issue here was not necessarily the youth’s level of education, but more related to the state’s requirement for the children to attend the state prescribed institution of schooling.
My 15 year old daughter has been following what has been taking place on social media and in the news. She asked why the Barbados Child Care Board (BCCB) would want to remove the children from their parents for not sending the children to school when it is clear that they are being educated at home. She went on to say that solutions could be found, such as the parents going to a school weekly to receive lesson plans for the children to do at home, and having the work done by the children submitted to the school for their records by the parents. She also thought that this was a good opportunity for unemployed people to earn a living by being employed by the state as home school teachers. These teachers would visit the homes of various families that would like their children home schooled to give lessons. What I am saying here is that if at 15 my daughter is able to think outside the box and come up with solutions to the issue of home schooling, why are the persons tasked with the job of ensuring all Barbadian children are educated not considering or proposing alternative schooling methodologies?
What we are seeing on the part of the Ministry of Education and the BCCB is a problem that plagues our work places. Not being able to think critically is a problem that we encounter daily as we do business with various establishments. Employees are taught 1,2,3,4 – that is the job. However, if asked about 3.5 or even 5, they are totally lost and unable to think for themselves to find the answer to anything outside of 1,2,3,4. Too frequently you have to wait until they ask the boss or they just tell you outright no, it can’t be done. Critical thinking seems to be lost in our educational system and the results are devastating. This case is a perfect example. This is an area that must be looked into by the Ministry of Education, but one can only hope and pray for a positive result, since the Ministry itself suffers from the very same problem of not being able to think critically to solve problems.
The African Heritage Foundation (AHF) seems to be an organisation that has been blessed with some vision; we have shown a willingness and ability to act in addressing matters of concern in our society. An introduction to the Foundation is located on the website, which indicates that there are Operational Orders created to run similarly to government ministries – to deal with the various sectors of society. One such Order is tasked with helping to develop a more proficient educational system for the youth of this nation. Maybe the BCCB and Ministry of Education should convene a meeting with the AHF and work together in creating and implementing plans of action to address serious issues that haunt the system of education in Barbados. It is crucial that Government recognises the contributions of and values such NGOs in our society. The Government should help them in their quest to assist the Nation.
Before leaving you to ponder on what you have just read, I will add this: Law is not justice; this is evident as we have several laws in Barbados that needs amending and we as Black Barbadians descended from the African continent will never forget that the institution of the slave trade was legal under the laws of Barbados and several other countries. By law, the black man and woman could not be Barbadian and were seen as a percentage of a human being. There is a saying that laws were made to be broken, but I am saying that unjust laws need to be amended and the lawmakers held accountable. Law cannot be set in stone to be followed 1,2,3,4 blindly; we need the public and the institutions of law and order to understand this and act accordingly.
A town meeting was hosted by the AHF last night to address the case of the Rastafari family that is in the nation’s spotlight for not complying blindly with the law that states all children within certain ages must attend school. Here are the proposals from that meeting.
PROPOSALS FROM THE AHF HOSTED COMMUNITY MEETING
Israel Lovell Foundation, My Lords Hill, St. Michael
October 3, 2016
- Lawyer should request a stay on the sentencing scheduled for Oct. 7, 2016.
- If not granted, persons should turn up at the Court in a show of support to the family.
- Put the full facts of the case on social media in order to generate more support from the many persons would like to know more about this case and support the parent’s right to home school.
- Put forward a resolution to have the Jackman family keep their children.
4. RastafarI families can pull their children out of school immediately and hold school sessions in Queen’s Park until the resolution succeeds.
5.Launch a petition with as many signatures as possible demanding that custody be returned to the parents.
6.Demonstrate on an agreed date in the yard of the Child Care Board to enforce the demand.
7. Launch a protest against the Child Care Board as being unsuitable to take custody of the children.
8.Family fast on the premises of the Child Care Board. The Brethren asserts his full right to teach his children and is not backing down. His premise is that with persistence the case can be won because slavery was a law that was changed due to persistent protest.
9. Launch a national dollar drive in support of the family. The money that is collected from this drive will be used by the family to assist with their home schooling needs.
10. Get friends and family to sign affidavit on family
11. Draw up and Endorsement Sheet of people who know the family and are willing to go on record asserting that the children are being educated competently.
12. Offer from the Muslim School in Barbados to have the children attend and work with the Family until the issue is resolved.
13. This could imply getting an Affidavit from Brother Rachman, which would assure the authorities that the children are attending an approved home school.
14.Convene a small group to contribute to designing a home school curriculum. The Brethren is clear about what he wants to teach his children.
15.Lobby and advocate for changing the provisions in the Education Act so that more than one person, not only the Minister, has the authority to approve home schooling.
16.Get a lawyers Affidavit for exemption from immunization; have a nutritionist verify the children’s health; and do an exam to prove the children’s competence.
17.Challenge the jurisdiction of the Courts to decide the best way of educating his children.
18.Challenge the constitutionality of the policy of the Ministry of Education as it pertains to home schooling.
A suggestions for possible plans of actions that were not voiced at the meeting was to get UNICEF involved in matter at hand. Calls have also been made to have the Barbados Child Care Board compensate the family through legal action.
The people have spoken.
The African Heritage Foundation meets on Thursday the 6th October at shop no.21 in Pelican Village at 5.30, on the agenda will be the formulating of a home school curriculum creation working group. This group will be housed under the education arm of the African Heritage Foundation and will have the full support of the entire organization. Persons who would like to be involved with this working group are invited to the meeting Thursday. If you are interested in finding out more about the African Heritage Foundation, you are also invited. Each and every one of you who has taken the time to read this article now has the responsibility of sharing it to help to build public awareness of the community meeting’s proposals for possible plans of action.
I am going to end this article with a testimonial from someone who attended last night’s community meeting.
“Last night I had the pleasure to be among concerned citizens of Barbados, in a gathering hosted by the African Heritage Foundation. This gathering of amazing citizens convened in solidarity with the Ras Tafari family, whose lives are being disrupted by the ambassadors of the former colonial masters, disguised as institutions with the intent to protect and serve. Tonight was a blessing for me to be in the presence of this family. The father's words echoed those of a Tibetan spiritual leader. A real African freedom fighter. He has courageously chosen to remove himself and his family from the war zones of this western influenced society and devote himself to the spiritual, mental and emotional well being of his children as his life's purpose. He prefers for them to stay close so he can continue to nurture them away from the toxic ways of post-colonial societies. He is the freedom fighter of freedom fighters, yet his message the entire evening was about more love, more attention to the children of our community, more respect and consideration for our babies. More guidance so they can avoid land mines buried shallow amidst the madness that most aspire to excel within. The BARBADOS CHILDCARE BOARD is attempting to TERRORIZE this happy family. They are attempting to savagely remove these beautiful children, with the assistance of the constabulary forces of the queen. They are hell bent on destroying two innocent children, traumatizing them and their families, with court sanctioned terror. I would feel very comfortable, ...actually honored having my children sit at the feet of this brother, with his depth of reasoning, his desire for freedom and his passion to grow, educate and nurture human beings free of westernized traumatic thoughts. He is fighting for your rights even though you don't know it yet. He is way more advanced than most. He needs our support.” Bro Heru.
If you would like more information on the upcoming meeting, please call or message via WhatsApp (246) 268 7084 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We in Barbados cannot always be so reactionary; we need to be able to anticipate and proactively address problems in our society, but that would call for vision and critical thinking.
So in concluding, I say kudos to the AHF for work well done and I hope others will join this organisation and help to strengthen it. I also hope that the Government can see the usefulness of this NGO and give it the support it needs to go forward. I think the AHF is the real Commission for Pan African Affairs and if assisted by Government, we would see actions of implementation that would assist in the positive upliftment of our society.
If you are reading this article and know Government Ministers, please encourage them to read this article. I suggest the Government of Barbados make the AHF an ally. The people are watching; the youth are watching and they are noting what is being done. Advocating for Ganja licences for the Rastafari and Pan African Organisations is on the AHF’s agenda. This is another matter that the government needs to consider seriously. Act now Mr Minister, so that later will be greater for us all.
I am Simba. Give thanks for your time.