Friday, April 12, 2024

JEFF BROOMES: Neval a positive role model for youth


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THE FORMER chief justice, Sir David Simmons recently warned that there are gangs operating in Barbados. This is an admonition with which I totally agree. These gangs extend their hurtful tentacles into our schools and impact quite negatively.

This open statement from someone of the quality of Sir David should not be left to float in the wind and land in the sea. The new development poses a serious threat to our children and, indeed, to our civil society. It reaches far and has dangerous implications.

Children who should be focused on the education being provided to them are now forced to focus on many other things. These children who should be maturing consistent with our values and principles are now forced to rebel against anything that is guided by rules and regulations. 

Children are now quick to say they are not “snitches”. Cooperation and respect for the guidance of teachers is challenged as these young people now focus on being agents within the schools being directed by bosses to whom they must be loyal. Sad, but true.

The manifestation of the gang culture pervading the schools is three-tiered. Yes, the passing of drugs and recruiting of drug clients exist. This negatively affects students’ ability to focus on what is the real purpose of school. This infiltration of drugs drags the school that much closer to the bad of some of our communities.

Individual and group fights that are extended for long periods by targeted acts of bullying also disrupt the school environment. If one refuses to conform to what representatives from one group or the other seeks to establish, he or she becomes the easy and consistent target. Again this disrupts all that is good and meaningful about school.

A most alarming and damaging developing is the community-on-community fights that are raising their ugly heads. The children see themselves as the virtual junior varsity emulating the acts of their more senior gang members. The fights are often vicious and involve a variety of weapons. I anticipate that something tragic will eventually emanate from them.

Some people see schools as war zones and ascribe such to one school leader or the other. That’s a simplification that leaves the problem unaddressed, a serious act of intellectual laziness. School is more challenging for today’s children than we can ever appreciate.

The authorities must heed the warning from Sir David and not allow the misled minority to define our schools. I say minority because that is just what they are but they seriously disrupt the entire school environment. 

We must, therefore, identify and promote those who step aside from the negativity and project themselves into a positive, purposeful and serious commitment to society. I am forced to honour and express my deep respect for one such former student.

Neval Grazette is a former student of Alexandra School. He was a dedicated student and a good sportsman, especially in the area of cricket. He was exposed to many challenges and many temptations. The fact that he was a serious asthmatic made his challenges worse.

This young man was awarded a scholarship by the Barbados Cricket Association to do “A” level studies in England. He used the opportunity well and, as the school authorities said to me, he is the best we ever sent there. He built on that and recently graduated with a master’s degree.

He consistently used his influence to redirect school children in a positive way. His short teaching stint was a dream for me as his principal to smile about. I was moved to attend his recent wedding to a lovely young lady. Neval, keep moving upward and allow others to see you as the alternative to the gang culture. Let your values and decency define our youth.

Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as vice president of the BCA and director of the WICB. Email:


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