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The real revolution in education

The real revolution in education

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One of the highlights of our annual Independence celebrations is the Secondary Schools Public SpeakingCompetition, eagerly awaited each year by students, parents and the general public. All praise and thanks to the Lions Club South for continuing to organize the event. The continued enthusiastic response is itself a tribute, both to the efforts of the Lions, as well as to the quality of presentation of the students.

Having been absent from the country, it warmed my heart and stimulated my brain to read about the competition in the mid-week edition of the SEARCHLIGHT this week. Moreover, it was such a pleasant departure from the negatives of the past weeks and months, with reports of murder, violence and crime crowding the front pages of all our papers. It also gave a positive spin to our Independence celebrations, which meshed well with the national exhibition displaying the work of our entrepreneurs.

The public response to both events was also very encouraging, a sure sign that all is far from lost in this fair country of ours and that there is real hope for the future. There are negative elements for sure, but within our young people, there resides much of which we can be proud and which we must provide the opportunities for blossoming and full scope for development.

A lot of food for thought was served up, indicating the tremendous talents within our youth, the creativity of thought and action. We cannot just hope that those in authority listen, but press them to go further in being ready to respond to these positive openings. Our country certainly needs that if we are not to stagnate, or worse, to regress.

The winner of the 2017 Public Speaking Competition continued in the vein of excellence demonstrated by many previous worthy winners. Jaykwarn Donald-Payne not only gave us a stark reminder of the danger to world peace emanating from the occupant of the White House in Washington, but also provided clear ideas of how to revolutionize the education system and make it not only more pupil-and student-friendly, but more productive as well.

A lot has happened in relation to the “Education Revolution” in St Vincent and the Grenadines, but this was a manifestation of the revolution “from below”, by those who are engaged in it on a day-by-day basis. It would be a real pity if the ideas advanced were not used to stimulate deeper discussion and debate about the education system itself and how best it can be reformed/revolutionized to suit our purposes.

Incidentally, just a few hours before the finals of the Public Speaking Competition occurred here, I listened intently to a discourse between two European parents, one from Germany and the other British, about the merits and demerits of their respective educational systems. It is important that we get our parents and educators more engaged in such discussion, since too many of us have outdated views, shaped both by the past and the pressures of succeeding in the present.

It would be interesting to note how parents, for example, react to the ideas of shortened school hours to allow more time for extra-curricular activity. In addition, the open call for the physical condition of schools to be greatly upgraded to facilitate the flowering of our educational talent is one which should be high on the agenda, as Government prepares its 2018 Budget.

All in all, our educators, parents, administrators, Government and the general public have been presented with a challenge. Are we up to it?

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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