In a matter of days, another academic school year will come to an end. At the moment, most of the students across Guyana have completed their End-of-Term tests and are awaiting their results. Once this process is completed, schools will be officially closed for an extended period of two months. This means that children will have a lot of time on their hands and should, therefore, be encouraged to utilise this time in a constructive manner.
During this period, parents are faced with the challenge of finding activities, whether they are academic or recreational, etc, for their children to be involved in. There are many different ways in which our young people could effectively utilise their time wisely. Some students who have not done so well during the past year or perhaps those who encounter difficulties in a particular subject area could use the time to do remedial academic work to catch up with the rest of their peers.
Some of the more mature students also choose to take up work-study opportunities, where they get a taste of what the world of work has to offer. There are also those who go off to ‘summer camps’ hosted by religious/youth groups or other organisations including the Government-sponsored programmes. These provide an opportunity for youths to interact with their peers and engage in extracurricular activities which would help them become well-rounded individuals.
When persons are not fully occupied with doing positive and uplifting things, they tend to fall by the wayside, most times to their own detriment. Many would agree that many of our young people are falling prey to the use and trafficking of illicit drugs and engaging in criminal activities, in the process completely destroying their lives and the great future they could have had if better choices were made and the necessary support systems were put in place to ensure their proper upbringing.
It is being said that institutions such as the family and religious groups need to take up their roles more seriously as happened before. Historically, the older generation had managed to transmit their beliefs, values, traditions, customs and institutions to the younger members of their societies and had contributed in some way to their disciplined upbringing. This was achieved largely owing to the impact of agencies of socialisation, such as the family, religious organisations, and the schools to a large extent. Today, the impact of these institutions has been challenged and undermined by new forces, particularly television and the Internet, and pop culture as a whole.
We believe that if our adolescents are to move from the less mature and irresponsible ways of thinking and acting to making more mature and responsible judgements and engaging in activities that are the hallmark of a socially productive adulthood, certain support systems must be provided. In addition to the various interventions which the Government should make, there are numerous organisations including those in the Private Sector, which could rise to the occasion and contribute more towards saving our youth population. They need to come on board and sponsor programmes that would see our children and young people become well-equipped with the necessary skills to develop themselves and the society as a whole. Coordinating and sponsoring such programmes during the ‘summer break’ when children are away from school for a long period is a good way to start.
Successful programmes typically incorporate specific components, such as providing a sense of belonging, promoting a supportive relationship with adults, and affording opportunities to enhance decision-making and leadership skills.
Further, sport could also play a very important role in bringing the youth population back on track so that they could interact with their peers and elders in a more meaningful and dignified manner. There is need to revive many of the non-functional sport groups/centres in communities as the lack of access to such facilities makes it more challenging to engage youths.
The idea is for young people to be meaningfully engaged with activities that they could gain something positive from. It is well accepted that those who have achieved successes in life or have gone on to do great things are the ones who have utilised their time wisely.