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Study of history gives perspective


Recently, minister of Education “Jimmy” Prince spoke of the Government’s intention to place greater emphasis on history in our schools, particular our secondary schools, where far too few of our students are exposed to the subject all the way to the CSEC level.

With much of the focus in our schools being on reading, math and productivity skills, subjects like history and English literature are sometimes misguidedly regarded as optional indulgences.{{more}}

But recent happenings in our country bring home forcefully the need for us to know our own history and the history of the world in which we live to enable us to put things into perspective.

We have come out of the general elections of 2015 with the leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP) refusing to concede defeat. The party and its supporters claim that there were widespread irregularities in the poll, particularly in the Central Leeward and North Windward constituencies, which they claim were won by their candidates. The NDP has filed election petitions seeking to overturn the results of the election in these two constituencies and has been engaging in various forms of protest, including absenting themselves from Parliament.

No Vincentian can claim to be happy about the present unsettled state of affairs in our country, but historical perspective puts it all into context and allows us to see past the immediate.

In the last two Weekend issues of SEARCHLIGHT, two distinguished Vincentian historians, Garrey Dennie and Curtis King provided valuable quantitative and qualitative analyses respectively of our election results, going as far back as 1979. In last Friday’s edition, King spoke to the deep-seated distrust and political immaturity of our people, while the week before, Dennie made the connection between new voters joining the electorate, loyalty and election outcomes.

The analysis provided by Dennie shows that the ULP and the NDP each had its best performance in the popular vote while the other was in power, while King reminded us that the only times between 1984 and 2015 that the election results were not rejected by the party that lost were 1984 and 2001. King’s reminders of some of the things that were said and done by losing politicians over the last 30 years were timely.

Also, as Dennie said in his piece, if either party wanted to steal an election while it held office, they chose a rather contradictory way to do so. Additionally, in 1984 and 2001, the losing parties dared not suggest irregularities, as the elections had been conducted under their administrations. Further, anyone familiar with our electoral process knows that under our system, it would be very difficult, if not impossible to steal an election on election day.

So what is happening now on the streets and in our Parliament is nothing new. Despite this, we hope that before too long, wisdom and common sense would prevail, so that we can all get on with the mammoth task of nation building.