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Back to school in new school buses

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Our congratulations go out to the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) for its astuteness in seeking, and obtaining, the assistance of the Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan in addressing a critical need in the education sector – transportation for the nation’s schoolchildren. Our thanks too, once more, to our Taiwanese friends, for donating the 10 school buses to help to meet the challenge.

There is no need here to further make the case for the provision of transport designated for a school bus service. That is palpably clear from the numbers of students and pupils left alongside our roads daily awaiting transportation. It is one of the disadvantages of having a privatized and unregulated bus service, left to the whims and fancies, not just of owners and operators, but even of drivers and conductors.

Securing these buses, right at the beginning of a new school year, is a most positive step. The bold advances in education, under the umbrella of the “Education Revolution”, can only be sustained if there are the necessary support services, such as adequate transportation in this case. We are pleased to note too that the school buses have not just been provided, but terms and conditions for their operation have been specified, which considerably enhance the initiative. Additionally, more support is being provided for students from the Grenadine islands, who have historically been at a disadvantage. This too must be commended.

The big challenge is now to live up to the lofty expectations and standards set. Too often in the past, whether under this administration or previous ones, there have been failures to stay the course. Regulations are only partially enforced or not at all and some are allowed to flout such regulations, thereby undermining standards.

We urge vigilance and impartiality at all times in ensuring that the game is not only lifted, but maintained at the levels set. It cannot be another big fanfare today and back to the old ways tomorrow. There will be the inevitable criticisms, genuine or otherwise. These must be given consideration and, where necessary, improvements made; but there must be no slackening on this road to progress.

Over the years, the people of SVG have benefited from the generosity of friendly governments, institutions, organizations and even private individuals. If truth be told, we have not always demonstrated our appreciation of such donations by ensuring that they are put to the best use, and in the case of plant, machinery and equipment, well maintained. It is a common complaint and blame lies as much with administrators as with beneficiaries and the general public.

Let us begin to make a turnaround now with the school buses, for the sake of our nation and its students, our future.

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