Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Written by Hansen –

Most Jamaicans that I have spoken with have a burning desire to go
back home. Nostalgia overtakes them sometimes to tears. Even the
hostile economic environment is no deterrent; but there is a
hesitation, and a fear caused by the rising violence in the country.
Those who migrated more than twenty years ago can't understand the
ravaging effects of criminal activities, whether they are drug
related, politically orchestrated or power driven. These times
bewilder them. These Jamaicans have stood fiercely proud of their
country. They have remained Jamaicans with culture in tact, amid new
peoples, climates, cultures and borne hardships the likes of which you
could never imagine. These give from the heart, sending approximately
US $2 billion in 2007 through the remittance pipeline to families in
need down a yard. To these stalwarts who desire a new Jamaica, I say,
"We have your ticket" in the 4th R Project. To those down a yard, I
say, "Wi have yu back!"

The 4th R is the re-introduction of Reverence into the skill-set of
Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmetic. Those of us older than forty remember
a time in Jamaica when people were respectful to each other; when any
adult could correct a child on the street; when you shared a
breadfruit with your neighbor and got a dish of ackees in return and
you both had dinner as a result of the mutual exchange. That silent
4th R was a part of school, church and home. Children learned to be
respectful of each other and especially of their elders because they
were taught respect by their teachers, community members and parents.
They acted out exactly what they were taught.

Now we ask, who taught these new offenders to act with such uncaring
violence? And the answer is that we did, if even by default. We have
not paid attention to the things that really matter; the things that
create successful nations. What went wrong? Many things! The
splintering of the family; the political divide; the brain drain from
the country; gangs became family to many and aggressive video games
their mentors; violent movies took away any shred of remorse they
would have had and modeled the way for destructive behavior. Many of
our popular musicians continue to cement false values into the minds
of our youths through their lyrics and the wheels of this fierce
culture keep turning.

You don't need to be a PhD to figure it out. What is important however
is that we also have the solution in our hands. It is the 4th R
model. This model offers a new paradigm shift in education, which
places the highest value on our children and our people. The 4th R
skill-set is developed through playful exercises aimed at developing
conscious, productive and caring people. If children are nurtured
they will flourish and become functional adults. If children are
abused, they become cruel and violent adults. If children grow up with
criticism, they learn to hate themselves and others. These behaviors
are learned in the early years and become the brick and mortar, which
build or breakdown character later on in life.

Phase 1 of the 4th R project will begin on August 25th, 2008. Two
schools in the Rockfort community of Kingston have been identified as
pilot projects to plant the seeds of the 4th R; Rennock Lodge All Age
and Windward Road Primary and Junior High School. Approximately
eighty teachers from these schools will be trained and certified in
the 4th R methodology to begin the new September term. Additionally
community parenting sessions will be conducted for the Rockfort

The model we speak of was introduced into the South Camp
Rehabilitation Center in 1995. The tangible result of that project
was a furlough and mentoring program, which was the final step in the
rehabilitation process. Teammates worked as highly focused groups in
the pursuit of specific activities in which they had interest. Teams
included for example – the Suns of God Gospel Choir, The
Transformational Unit, God Messengers, Righteous Reggae Vibrations,
Students Expressing Truth (SET), and the Council of Elders. Their
activities were directed at giving back to their community, and as
such they practiced within the closed community of the Center, and
most critical to their rehabilitation, returned to the outside
community to entertain, to mentor and to minister. By the third year
more than 89% of teammates at South Camp were voluntarily
participating in group programs. In addition, a formal request to the
Commissioner of Corrections was made by over three thousand inmates of
the other two maximum security correctional centers, for the program
to be implemented in their respective facilities. As a follow up, the
Reverence For Life (RFL) program, as it was then called, began an
extension of the program at both Tower Street and Spanish Town maximum
security institutions.

The Outcome - While the RFL program formed the dominant culture in
these institutions, violence in the prisons was almost non-existent.
For most teammates on the program, sentences were shortened and parole
granted at a faster rate than for prisoners not on the program.
During the period 1995 to 2000 when this program was active, the rate
of recidivism dropped from 90% to 30 %.

We are convinced that if such dramatic changes could be made in that
space of time within a community of men, many of whom were repeat
offenders, then the model can also be used to create a new Jamaica;
one that we can return to, to build our retirement homes and live in
peace or vacation with family without having to look over your

It is possible. It can happen if we all stand behind this project.
Like everything else it takes money to care. We will be initiating a
number of fund raising activities, membership drives and sponsorship
opportunities which we know will be of interest to you. One hundred
percent of the funds raised for this project will be ploughed back
into resource materials for teachers, 4th R books for children,
promotional 4th R materials, to compensate workshop and project
facilitators and to begin an island-wide marketing campaign.

In January, 2009 we begin the full island-wide roll out of the 4th R
project. Yes we can create a new Jamaica if we all pitch in to support
this project. Your support is vital! Our slogan…'Empowering Each
Child To Move Jamaica Forward.' Let us join hands, hearts and
resources, 'because Jamaica matters.'

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