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Gang Leaders Seen as Role Models, Says ILO Report

Image of Labour Minister Stephenson King

A TWO-DAY International Labour Organization (ILO) workshop on child labour has been told of a break down in law and order in St. Lucia with young people turning to gang leaders to find a “positive” role model.

Image of Labour Minister Stephenson King
Labour Minister Stephenson King

Labour Minister Stephenson King called for urgent action to address the social problems as he addressed the workshop which focuses on apprenticeships, including school-to-work transition, as a response to child labour issues.

He told the conference that an October 2016 ILO rapid assessment report on child labour in St. Lucia “found that children and youth turn to local gang leaders as role models, after struggling to find positive role models in school and the community.”

King, a former Prime Minister, who read excerpts of the ILO document, said for years he has personally analysed and assessed the deterioration in this country’s social fabric in which families are disintegrating, while others are simply dysfunctional.

“Parental guidance is withering away and seems to be a thing of the past while our young men resort to the block, blaming the system for failing them – a reflection of their behaviour and shortcomings,” he said, adding that increasingly, there has been a break down in law and order.

King said there is a school system which, though focused on the pursuit of academic excellence, has been struggling and accused of failing the youth in the design, ability and capacity to produce disciplined, competent, ethical and patriotic citizens enriched with spiritual and moral values.

King said those were key values for building a strong and dynamic society.

“This trend must be arrested and calls for serious social intervention through research, re-engineering and social action,” he said, noting that the conference is a commendable initiative towards addressing one element of what he described as ‘this social malaise.’

The second phase of the workshop sponsored by the government of Brazil will be held in the Bahamas March 9-10.

“This is the first of several planned missions within the framework of a regional capacity-building project for the Caribbean countries that are members of the ILO’s Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour,” the ILO said in a statement.

“The exercise will also be used to explore and identify other specific opportunities for the countries to receive targeted technical assistance from the Government of Brazil in the area of school-to-work transition,” it added

The visiting delegation comprises experts and officials from the Ministry of Labour and Employment, and the Ministry of Education of Brazil, the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC); and the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean and ILO Brazil.

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