Enhancement of our young people is SVG’s greatest accomplishment – Senator James
This country’s greatest accomplishment in the last 40 years of Independence is the enhancement of our young people, the advancement of our human resource capital and our investment in education.
This is the view of deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly Senator Carlos James which he expressed while addressing a gathering of students recently.
“…For instance, the period from our last census in 2001 to 2012, the enrolment at the St Vincent Community College as well as at the University level has grown by over 100 per cent and this is indicative of the thrust that we have placed on education in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” James said.
James was at the time delivering bursaries to 27 students through the Generation Next Access to College Education Program.
He said that programs that assist the youth to obtain education are critical as this country does not possess natural resources. Our greatest asset is people, he said, so we must support the youth and give them the opportunity to build.
James noted that in 1979 when SVG obtained Independence, the country had a population of just under 100,000 Vincentians and at that time, we inherited only two major secondary school institutions.
He added that by 1980, the youth represented more than half of the country’s population as persons between the age of new-born to 19 stood at approximately 55,000 according to the 1980 census.
“It goes to show that during that period, young persons represented a large portion of our population. Three decades on, we have seen the rapid advancement in education, the birth of the Education Revolution, universal access to primary and secondary education,” said James who added that it is only fair to say that our greatest accomplishment in the last 40 years of independence is undoubtedly the enhancement of our human resource capital.
The deputy speaker noted that as a small state, we are faced with the challenges of overcoming the educational deficit and that is part of our post-colonial legacy.
He noted that the 2013 Economic and Social Affairs Report on inequality, noted that within some countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, the expansion of post basic education opportunities combined with pro poor policy have been shown to reduce inequality.
“It showed that investment in education, labour market institutions and regulations has in fact changed the patterns of inequality and in those countries where inequality has declined, two key factors have contributed to such declines, and again the expansion of education and public transfers to the poor.
“That sounds quite familiar to me in the context of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” stressed James who spoke about moving from half day shift systems in schooling and other initiatives to secondary schools across SVG.
“If a young child is not in school, it is not the system’s fault and that speaks to the accomplishment of our country,” said James.
James, a politician who contested the last general election in North Leeward as a candidate for the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) predicts that by 2025, North Leeward alone will have four or five qualified medical doctors.
“In a small rural fishing town in a farming village called Troumaca, we already have two medical practitioners. In the fishing community of Rose Bank, there is a young man in Cuba studying medicine. In Rose Hall there is a young lady doing medicine and in Spring Village, two students are pursuing medicine,” James pointed out.
He added that North Leeward is the first community in SVG to have a female aeronautical engineer.
“…and these are the accomplishments that we can claim proudly as our own…,” said James who added that it is all about giving students the resources so they can dream, accomplish and become model citizens to give back to SVG.