Mark Nicely, GUEST COLUMNIST
When will any government of this country demonstrate the political will and seek to curb the decay which is helping to plunge our beloved Jamaica into a morally bankrupt society? I ask this question against the background of Government, through its agencies, allowing for buses and taxis to continue in flagrant disregard for the law.
When I attended high school in the '90s, like so many of my peers, I was exposed to heavily tinted buses with speakers pumping loud music and lyrics which encouraged sexual activity and promoted violence in various forms. This, in my view, did nothing to enhance our focus on the formal education that our parents were providing for us at great cost to them then. I do recall that there was public outcry about the negative impact the music in buses was having on schoolchildren, and the extent to which these buses consistently sought to erode the acceptable norms and values of our society.
Additionally, the atmosphere of those state-sanctioned public modes of transportation was seen as an invasion of airspace, and also viewed as a major contribution to noise pollution at its best; distasteful and abusive based on the content of the lyrics echoed at that time.
As a student attending St Andrew Technical High School at the time, I remember that the political directorate then had declared that the tints and speakers were banned from public-passenger vehicles. Fast-forward to 2013 when as a teacher I serve as a principal of a rural high school. Nothing has changed in this regard. Both major political parties have over the years spoken conveniently about the implications for our nation as a result of the actions of operators, drivers and conductors. To date, it has been a perpetual case of 'A bag of mouth and very little action'. The current responses offered are typical of what the nation can expect as it relates to issues of morals, values and attitudes which will rob the society of open vulgarity and the culture of do as you like, 'anything a anything'.
Let me place on record, from experience, the deleterious effects of the phenomenon of these 'dancehall' buses on our education system. When any student travels on any of these buses for any extended period, he or she becomes intoxicated with the aroma for aggression, violence, 'donmanship' or a desire for sexual interaction. Simply put, many students at the end of a journey on these buses are sexually aroused. Upon exiting these buses, some of them who may care to, may spend some time fixing their uniforms, which are usually in a state of disarray, as in many instances, gyrating is an integral part of the experience. This sexually aroused student enters school - their place of formal learning - with sex uppermost in his or her mind. If it is not a situation of being sexually charged it is a display of aggression exhibited to both peers and adults. It is the teacher who now has the job of desensitising the students - a task for which the teacher is not necessarily trained, and which may not occur in that single or double session.
Even with desensitisation achieved, the student in the back of his or her mind is cognisant that this same experience becomes available at the end of the schoolday. Indeed, in many cases, students pine for a return from whence they came rather than focus on the lessons at hand, again retarding the teaching and learning process. This ugly reality affects the students' interactions at school and within the communities in which they live and operate. It is true that their thought processes and the quality of time they will spend focusing on academic affairs and the introduction to social graces is also significantly retarded.
The cancer of the negative effects of heavily tinted buses with loud music is robbing our country of quality human products, and positioning young, bright students to under perform and become future idlers and criminals. In the interest of preserving and restoring the moral fibre of our society, I call on the Government to demand that its agencies - the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the National Transport Authority - act swiftly, decisively and consistently to rid the country of this termite which is bent on gnawing away at our human capital. The officers must seek to bring into compliance operators of these public transportation vehicles, and take appropriate action where they fail to. Simply strip the vehicles of the speaker boxes and the tints that continue to contribute to the lewd behaviour that these children continue to seek after.
Dr Mark Nicely is president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association.