GIS Saga Continues – Report of Another Suicide Plot

Submitted by Women in Action Network (WiAN)

The Women in Action Network (WiAN) is expressing urgent concern for the lives of the Wards at GIS after receiving reliable information of another suicide plot to be carried out within hours.

It is clear that the Minister, the Board and the Management of the GIS are unable to secure the lives and wellbeing of these girls and all of them must be removed and the girls released to their parents or into alternative care.

The pressure driving these teenage girls to suicide over and over again comes from within the institution. Interim President of WiAN Tempu Nefertari recounts witnessing an example of the psychological torment inflicted on a particular ward on a recent visit to the institution and is calling for the end to this era of institutional abuse at the GIS.

Should there be a loss of life at GIS, this entire government will have the blood of those girls on their hands and will go down in history as sitting idly by and turning a blind eye to the incompetence of Minister Wilfred Abrahams. Do not let this be a case of “hard ears you won’t hear, own way you goin’ feel”. 

12 comments

  • PARADISE 2 X3 ISLAND RAN BY A BUNCH OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL BLACK LEADERS IN THE WORLD

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  • African Online Publishing Copyright ⓒ 2022. All Rights Reserved

    yep…the main reason everything has TURNED TO SHIT….100 years worth…

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  • Last thing I heard they were waiting to interview some girls who had been unavailable.

    I wonder what is the hold up now for the past due report upon which corrective action is to be based.

    SMH.

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  • Results of GIS probe ‘soon’

    The long anticipated results of the probe into the Government Industrial School (GIS) will be coming “soon”.
    This was as much as Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams would say when asked yesterday, as he had done on July 12 when also asked.
    Back then, he said the inquiry was almost complete pending the participation of the two young women who had escaped the facility. He had said the investigation was considering all operating aspects of the school, and asked the public to be patient and await the results and the recommendations proposed for the GIS.
    In April, Abrahams announced that former deputy commissioner of police Oral Williams would lead the inquiry panel, which would also comprise educator Tessa Chaderton-Shaw and former principal of Queen’s College, Coreen Kennedy-Taitt. The probe was slated to run for six weeks.
    In May, one of the girls was placed on suicide watch and transferred to the Psychiatric Hospital, from which she again escaped.
    However, Abrahams said, following an investigation, there had not been any suicide attempt. The young woman is now back at the Psychiatric Hospital.
    In June, the Women In Action umbrella group gave Abrahams a deadline to make the report public. Representative Tempu Nefertari said the network, made up of non-governmental organisations and individuals, wanted to know how the rehabilitative needs of the girls on suicide watch as well as those confined at the Barrows Unit in St Lucy were being addressed.
    “It is a problem when the adults in the society are not keeping watch over the children. The situation at hand says to us that it will not be enough to repeal laws, reform legislation and change staff; this calls for an extensive educational outreach across the society. What is Government waiting for?” she said then.
    The issue came to a head on April 16 when two wards escaped the Barrows facility, prompting a search. After they returned of their own accord, allegations of abuse emerged and advocacy group Operation Safe Space filed a constitutional motion to have them relocated.
    It was eventually successful at the Court of Appeal, which sent the case back to High Court.
    The girls were ordered immediately moved from the facility. (CA)


    Source: Nation

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  • These girls are the children of poor working class families. The markup class politicans used the fathers and mothers of these Girls at election time for vote/support, that’s it. Classsism in Barbados

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  • Wilfred, Wilfred, da report, boss da report .

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  • $40 million boost for education

    By Shawn Cumberbatch shawncumberbatch@nationnews.com
    Government is planning a $40 million shake-up of the education system to be funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
    It will include major curriculum reform, upgrading the physical and digital infrastructure of at least ten primary schools, special needs students being integrated into regular classrooms, increased professional development for teachers and principals, and the creation of new digital and printed textbooks.
    There are also plans to adapt assessments and examinations for primary school students in Classes 1, 3 and 4, with Government having announced it will abolish the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination, also known as the Common Entrance or 11-Plus Exam.
    Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley told the recent St Philip Speaks town hall forum that she will be meeting with the Ministry of Education after Crop Over to discuss recommendations on education reform. This included the future of the Common Entrance.
    However, with her administration seeking to borrow $40 million from the IDB to implement the major changes, the bank shared details of some of the plans in a July 27, 2022 “project profile”. The IDB said the 17 pages of information were disclosed under its access to information policy.
    Curriculum reform
    Once the loan is secured, $9 million is to be spent on curriculum reform “to improve the quality of instruction by consolidating the existing curriculum and by integrating new growth areas such as computer science (coding/robotics), blue economy, skills for green jobs, and climate change and 21st century skills”.
    “The new curriculum will seek to improve overall learning and decrease learning gaps by gender. The revised curriculum can be taught in different modalities (online, in person, hybrid). Loan resources will be used to contract technical assistance to work with the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training on all aspects of the curriculum reform,” the project document outlined.
    The revised curriculum will benefit about 17
    842 students in 60 primary schools and 19 751 students in 21 secondary schools in select subject areas.
    Some $4 million will be used to “develop a curriculum framework guiding the curriculum review process, create an information and communications technology strategy for education, and adapt assessments and examinations for [students in] Classes 1, 3 and 4”.
    Another $1 million is to be allocated for professional development for teachers and principals. This will involve defining teaching standards for those using different modalities; preparing them to teach the new subject areas using student-centred approaches; the development of self-awareness and approaches for teaching boys; and training faculty at the Erdiston Teacher Training College to teach the new subject areas.
    Further plans include $4 million to “create new digital and printed textbooks, teacher guides toolkits, materials and equipment to successfully implement the new curriculum”.
    This was in addition to another $4 million to “promote a more inclusive education”.
    It will include “the development of an inclusive education policy, the design and testing of inclusive education in a select group of schools integrating special needs students into regular classrooms by providing the necessary support services to them; and the execution of a communication strategy.
    “This component will target at least two schools to pilot special needs education and two principals to promote the adoption of an inclusive education plan in their schools,” the education reform proposals stated.
    “Considering the limited information available about special needs students and schools, a study will be done to provide an assessment of this sub-sector, including an action plan for completing the inclusive education policy and design the initiative to integrate special needs students into regular schools.”
    Outside of curriculum issues, the authorities also plan to use $18 million of the IDB loan “to improve the quality of the physical and digital infrastructure by upgrading at least ten primary schools to meet sustainable and resilient best-practice standards, and building code requirements”.
    This included “cost-effective measures of energy and water efficiency, upgrading of connectivity in schools, and provision of devices
    to students and teachers”.
    Maintenance plans
    “Loan resources will be used to strengthen the technical capacity of Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training’s Education Technical Management Unit responsible for infrastructure projects, to ensure the mainstreaming of climate standards and to develop school maintenance plans,” the project information added.
    The proposed education sector transformation will be pursued under the Skills For The Future II: Digital Transformation For Inclusive And Quality Education Project to be executed by the ministry.
    Officials said while access to education in Barbados was high, learning remains a challenge, particularly for some boys; the curriculum was outdated; and classroom practices were teachercentred, authoritarian, traditional in terms of gender roles, and abstract.
    This was in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating existing inequalities and problems of the education system; a lack of an inclusive education strategy and intervention; outdated physical and digital infrastructure; and the absence of a cohesive sector management system.
    “In response to these challenges, the Ministry of Education . . . developed a strategic plan 2022-2027 and created the Education Reform Unit with the mandate to implement education reform,” the IDB team said.


    Source:NATION

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  • Rising above trauma of abuse
    By Maria Bradshaw mariabradshaw@nationnews.com

    At the age of 16 when most students were busy preparing for exams, Pierre Cooke found himself embroiled in a major court battle, as he fought to be emancipated from a family member who had been his primary caretaker.
    After suffering in silence from years of physical, emotional and verbal abuse starting from the age of 11, Pierre found the courage to confide in an adult and this ironically happened when the one thing which was his escape from the abuse – his education- was being threatened.
    Six years after that traumatising ordeal which resulted in ongoing therapy and a total separation from his abuser, the young man continues to use education to his advantage.
    Despite the legal troubles and setbacks, he has stood strong and confident and is now graduating from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, with first class honours in law.
    In an interview with the Sunday Sun, Pierre said that court experience, coupled with encouragement, mentorship and financial assistance from child rights defender, attorney and former magistrate Faith Marshall-Harris, propelled him into the legal arena.
    Good debator
    “Everyone told me because you speak well or you do a lot of debating or you argue, you should be a lawyer, so that is how it started out. It developed beyond that when I started to interact with the law around the age of 16, which was the beginning of my court situation. It was then that I actually got the first experience of seeing how the law can protect people,” he said.
    “So seeing advocates like Mrs Marshall-Harris step up and say there are laws against this treatment – going into court and speaking in front of the judge; submitting affidavits to share my experience and go through all the processes around how we can legally protect Pierre, for me that was when I saw that although I was in a very vulnerable position and I thought I had no protection, the law was there to support me.”
    He admitted, however, that there were times throughout the proceedings, during which he was made a ward of the state, he felt almost as if protection from the courts as well as the Child Care Board was eluding him.
    The former student of the Alleyne School made headline news on March 7, 2016, albeit anonymously, since he was still a minor, when a group of church members from the Grazettes Seventh-Day Adventist Church, came to the Nation newspaper to express concern that Pierre, one of their members and an ardent lay preacher, had been taken to the Psychiatric Hospital at the request of the family member,
    after he had reached out for help and reported his abuse.
    Recalling that tumultuous period, Pierre, who was head boy at the Alleyne School at the time, said it all happened when the family member threatened to send him back to Guyana, where he was born, and so prevent him from sitting his CXC exams.
    Pierre, who came to Barbados at the age of 11 to live with the family member after his grandparents who raised him emigrated to Canada, said he basically walked into an extremely abusive home.
    “There was physical, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse,” he revealed, as he spoke about situations of neglect, withholding food and being locked out of the home. While he and his sibling were at home, they were not allowed to open the windows and all the doors were locked.
    He said he was often badly beaten and on one occasion all along the main street in front of his home and in front of neighbours, to the extent that police were called. But in the end, he added, they too became convinced by the family member that he was a bad boy and deserved this treatment and nothing was amiss.
    He was also forbidden from speaking to neighbours, could not go outside and play like other boys his age, but was subjected to every form of housework.
    He recalled on one occasion speaking to a church member about the abuse who in turn contacted the family member. This, he said, ended in disastrous consequences and he never confided in anyone again.
    That was until that day when the threat of him not doing CXCs loomed large.
    “Alleyne School for me was my getaway in many ways. I flourished at school. I always came first in class and I was always on the principal’s honour roll. I didn’t want to take what was happening at home to school. It was only at that point when I was told that I was not doing CXCs that I said to myself, ‘I can’t have this’.”
    Despondent and afraid, Pierre went to school and broke down in tears, spilling everything to the guidance counsellor.
    Reported matter
    She in turn reported the matter to the principal and the Ministry of Education where she got the permission to do a “manager reporting” and that was when she sought out the services of Marshall-Harris.
    However, while Pierre started to feel as if he would finally be rescued, he said his interaction with the Child Care Board left him in more despair. He added the family member convinced that department he was lying and that there was no abuse, that it was all in his head and that he was in need of psychiatric treatment, since at that time he had expressed suicidal ideation.
    Pierre was shocked when he was whisked off to the Black Rock, St Michael institution by the family member and an officer of the Child Care Board, but the concerned church members publicised the situation and he was released after spending a weekend among adult male inmates and not allowed any visitors at the instruction of the same family member.
    His grandparents who lived in Canada tried to have him relocated there, but despite the petitioning of his attorneys (Marshall-Harris and Nailah Robinson, both of whom represented him pro bono), the court was not moved to let him go abroad. This meant he had to be supported in Barbados financially and because he was a minor in a situation of migration, he could not access free education.
    That started his long legal walk to freedom.
    For an entire year after successfully completing CXCs despite the trauma he was experiencing, he was now in limbo. At this point Marshall-Harris took him into her law firm so he could have some independent means. Thereafter, she, along with others she inspired to assist, funded his two years at the Barbados Community College where he studied law and international relations, emerging with an associate degree. He admitted that it was while working with Marshall-Harris that he learnt to manage finances and save towards his education.
    Pierre also credits his foster parents George and Aleta Maynard who sheltered and supported him for those two years; his paternal aunt and grandparents, church members as well as teachers and the principal of the Alleyne School for seeing him through that tumultuous time.
    “They say it takes a village to raise a child. I am a product of the village. I am a prime example of that. There were several village members who helped to support my development,” he fondly recalled.
    He is now depending on that same village to see him through to Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad to pursue his legal certificate
    since he is well aware that it will be an expensive undertaking.
    With the legal experience that rocked his world at a time when he felt helpless and vulnerable, Pierre has now found himself catapulted into a life of service.
    At present he is the Prime Minister of the Barbados National Youth Parliament. He is also involved with the Healthy Caribbean Coalition and was president of the Law Society during his final year.
    While Pierre has never spoken publicly about his experience and admitted that very few of his friends
    know what he went through, he intends to use his legal knowledge to fight for the rights and protection of vulnerable people, particularly children.
    “In every element of law there is the sphere of rights and protection. I was driven throughout the law programme by this sense of urgency to represent – a sense that I needed to be an advocate, to find a way to represent marginalised groups, to find a way to support people who have no support system. Some of the work I am most excited about is children’s rights. I want to be able to help more persons understand that they have rights and they have to be protected.”


    Source: Nation

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  • I wish the young man much success in his endeavours. An admirable aspiration to help those who are suffering what he himself suffered. He can feel their pain and therefore he will fight harder.

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  • @Donna

    A lovely story.

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  • William Skinner

    @ Donna
    That is the story I referenced to you in another post.
    Very impressive.

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  • “They say it takes a village to raise a child. I am a product of the village. I am a prime example of that. There were several village members who helped to support my development,”

    Good work on the part of lawyers should also be recognized and appreciated. 👍 Marshall-Harris and Nailah Robinson represented him pro bono👍 thus launching him on this incredible path.

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