CHAPELTON, Clarendon — A group of youth councillors in Clarendon recently used their platform at a special forum at the St Augustine Place of Safety to encourage wards not to ascribe to the “fully dunce narrative”, instead should cancel the dunce culture by being “fully bright”.
Since the song Dunce Cheque by dancehall artiste Valiant was released last year, the term “fully dunce” has taken root among young people who may think education is not an option.
However, in a bid to counteract the dunce rhetoric, deputy youth mayor of May Pen Ashanti James, in delivering the keynote address, noted that being dunce may put them at a disadvantage because they may be stigmatised and so should seek to self-actualise. “When I was younger I was scared to say ‘I’m dunce’ because I don’t want people to look at me in a bad way. As cliché as it sounds, education really is the key to success and I am encouraging each one of you to ensure you get a good education no matter what your situation may be,” she told the combined group of 57 wards who gathered in the common area on May 27.
Rohan Burrell, assistant manager at the St Augustine Place of Safety, said the management team decided to put on the forum and invite the youth councillors due to the “glorious reviews” that were given by some of the wards when they last visited. “They also seemed to be a group of young people who knew what they were about and we thought they would have been quite impactful in a positive way as they are all in the same age group. When children see others who are just like them making a positive impact, it acts as a motivator for our wards to aspire for greater things,” he explained..
“The expected outcome was just to trigger something good, a changed mindset, some amount of introspection and an improved attitude. Some wards would have flooded the office with more questions about the presentation by the deputy youth mayor and would have shown more interest in the process of self-actualisation, so I think it is safe to say that the objective was met,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Burrell further noted that the dunce culture was targeted as it lends itself to children being misguided with the wrong things being promoted, while doing good now seems taboo. “We wanted our wards to know that there was nothing fashionable about being drug users and abusers, there is nothing cool about sitting at the back of the class with no subject and the chopper lifestyle while very appealing with what it can give, such rewards are costly and are usually short-lived. Cancelling the dunce culture can only promote literacy and increased knowledge because knowledge equates to power.”
Ashanti said she was grateful for the opportunity to speak to her peers in such a setting as part of their Child Month activities. “Being here was as much fun as it was a learning experience. We were invited and I spoke on changing the dunce culture and how we should temper the type of music that we listen to and how much we soak up from social media. We need to take stock of ourselves and see if our behavior now is helping us to move in the direction we want to go in the future. I had a small talk with some of them after the main session and it taught me to appreciate life even more after hearing their experiences.”