ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The request for more technical schools in Antigua & Barbuda to rid the streets of idle youth was made by villagers attending Thursday night’s police town hall meeting held at Villa Primary School. The meeting was called to discuss the growing trend of gun-related crimes in the area.
During the question-and-answer segment, several residents made a case for more technical institutions so the youth can have an outlet for their excess time.
“We are from a fishing community and up to this time there is no school that teaches fishing and that’s sad. We look down on fishing … there are Chinese businesses coming here and are reaping our waters. We have about five fisheries between Antigua & Barbuda, yet we don’t have one trawler. If you put a trawler out there with 30 or 40 youth on it then they will be out there for three or so months making money,” villager Luther Lee said.
However Public Relations Officer of the Antigua & Barbuda Fishermen’s Co-operative Gerald Price rebutted saying there are ways for individual interested in fishing to learn the trade as there are a number of seminars and training workshops held by the Fisheries Division and by his organisation.
“The Fisheries Division Officer (Cheryl) Appleton and her team have done courses on navigation where fishermen and other persons interested are invited to attend. The co-operative also (has) meetings and discussions on how fishermen can get themselves organised. Why people like to make statements like that? This is not true. There are opportunities that exist for fishermen to learn if they go to the meetings,” Price said in an interview yesterday.
“And what better way to learn than through another fisherman by going with him and learning the techniques. We have a lot of young fishermen from Point to Keeling Point ages 20 to 30. There are persons who went away for training on navigation, net and long-line fishing and would be willing to share their knowledge; fishing is not a secret thing,” he added.
However, former educator Denise Harris said children need basic education that is acquired in the classroom before they can move on to any technical institutions.
“If Mr Luther is going to teach them something they are going to need the basic education because if he going to tell them to measure five feet and they don’t have the basic education as to what five feet is, what he teaches is not going to make any sense. We have to think about education.
“Stop talking about technical school, they need basic education; primary school education and when they work hard to get to secondary school we let them go, and as a former educator (I know parents) expect the teacher to do everything,” Harris said adding that it takes a community to raise a child.
Harris said it was time for parents to take responsibility for their children and be role models for the youth to follow.
Lee added that even when jobs are available, the workforce is mostly made up of Chinese, Columbians, Venezuelans and Cubans.
“The opportunities are not there anymore, although there is work going on and this is an area we need to look at because this is very important. We can’t just demonise them and say they don’t want anything to do because when there is something to do the corners are cleaned. When they are not working, they congregate.”