Education ministry backs men march
A march designed to encourage men to become role models for schoolchildren has the backing of education authorities, the Government said today.
A spokeswoman for the Government said: “The Department of Education has confirmed that Mr Crockwell did request permission from director Llewellyn Simmons for the Men Are Needed Middle School March, set to take place on Monday.
“Permission was granted for this event. All approved events have the expressed support of the Ministry and Department of Education, as long as events adhere to the guidelines set out at the time of approval.”
The statement, sent at 2am this morning, came after Desmond Crockwell, an anti-violence campaigner, said yesterday that Diallo Rabain, the education minister and Commissioner of Education Kalmar Richards had not told him whether they supported the march.
Mr Crockwell said that his “gut feeling” was that politics might have played a part in the Government’s apparent reluctance to back the event.
He highlighted remarks he made that were critical of a Government update on work to combat gangs, released only days after the gun murder of Ronniko Burchall, 30, in December last year.
Mr Crockwell said at the time that the release was a “kneejerk reaction and response to many of the concerns that many of the community members are having”.
He added that he thought some in the Government had taken the criticism as disrespect.
Mr Crockwell said: “Some politicians are in it for egos.”
He added that if their egos were challenged, they would try to hijack community efforts to improve the island.
Mr Crockwell claimed: “It happens in this country politically, which stifles our progress economically and culturally and racially.”
He said he believed that plans for the event had not been taken seriously and that a communication breakdown with the Government had taken place.
Mr Crockwell added: “Either way, it’s not our fault.
“My hope is that they allow the children to join us in the march.”
Mr Crockwell said: “We have dealt with every single person in the top brass of eduction.
“We still have not got a confirmation from the ministry that they are in support of what we are doing.”
Mr Crockwell said that Dellwood Middle School, in Pembroke, and the Whitney Institute Middle School, in Smith’s, had both expressed an interest in taking part in the march.
The event is scheduled to start at Dellwood Middle School at noon, travel along Angle Street, Court Street and Dundonald Street and end with a rally at Victoria Park in Hamilton at about 12.40pm.
Speakers are expected to include Leroy Bean, the gang violence reduction co-ordinator, anti-violence advocate Antonio Belvedere, and Anthony Peets, a school counsellor.
Mr Crockwell said that he met Llewellyn Simmons, the director of academics at the education ministry, in “late September or early October” about the march and that he had “given the OK” for the event.
But Mr Crockwell said that he had received an e-mail last month from Mr Rabain that said that Ms Richards had not heard anything about the march.
Mr Crockwell added that he had contacted Ms Richards, who asked him several questions about the event.
He said that he had responded to her questions on December 3, but she had yet to reply.
Mr Crockwell added that he had got a good response from both schools.
He said: “They thought it was an excellent idea. We have their full support and co-operation.”
Mr Crockwell added that the response from men who wanted to support the march had been “overwhelming”.
He said: “The first thing that comes out of anyone’s mouth is that this is needed.
“Men are the first ones to speak about it. They think this is an excellent idea.”
Mr Crockwell explained that the event was to encourage men to do more to help the young — but also to celebrate those who had already stepped up to keep youngsters on the right path.
He added: “There’s always room for improvement in everything we do.
“There are a lot of good fathers. There are a lot of good role models.
“We need to encourage that — because it’s easy for men to get discouraged.
“We have to reach out to men who are not involved in their children’s lives — there is a lot of children looking for their fathers.”
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a statement from a Government spokeswoman received this morning.
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