Bring back Values and Attitudes
There were repeated calls from The Fourth Floor for a revitalisation of the Values and Attitudes campaign. A strong value system understands that it is wrong to steal or dupe persons of their property.
Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin holds the distinction of heading the military and later the police. "I thought that Values and Attitudes programme would be the beginning of a new understanding. But it was stillborn ... yet it's all in Vision 2030."
Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson launched the programme in 1994 with the expressed intention of addressing indiscipline, incivility and violence but lack of societal buy-in caused it to falter. Even though the programme did not get the desired traction, clamour for enhanced values and attitudes continued over the years. So in 2003 there was a relaunch when it was announced that the new invigorated campaign would include a media blitz of positive messages crafted for radio, television, print and billboards.
Difficult getting placement
Angela Patterson, who directed the media aspect of the campaign recalls that it was all voluntary work. Even though the creative work had been cleverly crafted calling for respect for each other, it was very difficult to get placement in media. The programme died a second time.
The Fourth Floor does not believe the role of values and attitude has received the requisite attention given its potential to significantly influence change in society and that this country is urgently in need of broad societal consensus on what is acceptable behaviour and what is right.
The nurturing of good human relations and the values-based culture anticipated at the start of the programme in 1994 were never achieved, the group acknowledged.
Gail Abrahams, CEO of AMCHAM, remembers: "I was pretty young when Prime Minister Patterson introduced that programme and my parents were very excited. I grew up in the country and I couldn't do certain things because the community was always looking at you. We have to get back to the situation where we get the village caring."
Start at home
Abrahams suggested that attitudinal changes need to start in the homes and continue in the schools. She balks at the parenting skills of some she has met along the way who seem to think that their children's education rests solely in the hands of teachers. Parents are traditionally a child's first teacher.
The Holness administration has announced that a National Values and Attitudes Committee is to be reestablished and will be co-chaired by Education Minister Ruel Reid and his Opposition counterpart The Rev Ronald Thwaites.
Additionally, the Government has allocated $233 million to the Jamaica Values and Attitudes (JAMVAT) programme which will help finance the tertiary education of 4,000 students. Under this programme, Government finances 30 per cent of the student's tuition cost and the students contribute 200 hours of public service aimed at developing the nation's capital.
Education Minister Ruel Reid has observed that a strong educational system will foster appropriate environments and equip citizens with the skills necessary for building social and cultural capital. The minister is taking personal responsibility for leading Jamaica's transformation in this area but he cannot do it by himself.
In advance of a holistic approach to solving crime, The Fourth Floor issued a strong call to civil society actors, including the churches, to become engaged in the process of transformation by helping to build wholesome, law-abiding and resilient communities.