Dr. Fraser- Point of View
June 17, 2011
Common Entrance, Rape and CARICOM

I was terribly aghast by a story in last week’s issue of the News newspaper that was carried under the front page headline “Father Trying to collect money for child Rape.” There was also an element of sadness for it involved the rape of a six year old girl by a seventeen year old boy.{{more}} I don’t know and the story did not outline the circumstances under which this took place. The focus of the story was, however, on the father’s alleged effort to have the matter settled by a compensation of $2,000 from the young man. This is what I find disgusting. Is this what this young girl is worth to her father? The issue of Rape which is very prevalent in this society and which has not received the kind of public condemnation that it should is in itself sickening and horrendous when committed against an adult, much less an innocent six year old girl. I imagine or rather hope that the matter is out of the hands of the father and that his proposed compensation would be thrown aside. What would prompt a father to opt for such an arrangement? Don’t tell me poverty, for what is the dignity of a human being worth? Should a six year old girl be allowed to live with this sore for the rest of her life? This has serious implications. It might not even be unique, and when you take this to its logical conclusion you can perhaps explain a lot of other things that happen in our society. We must speak out against this kind of behaviour for Rape in itself is bad, but to confront it with proposals for compensation of the kind being suggested or of any kind whatsoever is just as bad and downright nasty.

Common Entrance

The Common Entrance results have recently been announced. I was told that the results were released two days later than they should have been because Cabinet had not seen the results. Now, come on! We have to stop this nonsense. Why does Cabinet have to look at the results before they are released? Can anyone think of any good, rational reason why this should be so? In fact it gives credence to the belief that Cabinet is somehow able to influence the results. Why does Cabinet have to involve itself in everything that happens in the country?

This brings me to another point that the News in its editorial of last week touched on. Its view is that the Common Entrance is irrelevant since students are guaranteed entry into secondary schools. At the moment what the Common Entrance does is to determine and influence the choice of schools that students get into, but what has happened to a system of continuous assessment? It is all agreed that Common Entrance brings a lot of tension to students and parents. We need to release this tension and to try other options. One cannot help but be sorry for some of the students, given the pressure under which they are put. For some students, just about everything is suspended while they are expected to concentrate on preparation for the Common Entrance. One suspects that there are likely to be some psychological fallouts since Common Entrance ‘ is It’. It is supposed to separate the sheep from the goats, and those students who fail would surely have that hanging over their heads. Let us seriously begin again the discussion about getting rid of the Common Entrance and replacing it with a process of continuous assessment which if handled properly will help to reduce the tension and allow the students to perform to their potential.

By the way, is it true that parents whose cars were parked outside the Grammar School while they waited on their children were clamped by the Police?


I had a good laugh recently when the Minister of Sports in Trinidad and Tobago suggested that CARICOM should intervene in West Indies cricket. West Indies cricket is at its lowest level yet and we all are despite the foreboding signs hoping for the best. Why would anyone want to put it in the hands of CARICOM when that body appears unable to deal with its own business? At one time I naively thought that might have been a good idea, but looking at how CARICOM has been moving recently I believe you will have to be crazy to think that way now. Our Caribbean countries have to different degrees been reeling from the global economic crisis. This has, however, been made worse by the mishandling of the economies of some of our countries. We are also up against the impact of the global village where ‘Small seems to be no longer beautiful’. All serious thinkers about Caribbean affairs are of the view that some measure of integration is the only way out, hence the emphasis on the Caribbean Single Market and Economy. We had been hearing a lot of rhetoric from our leaders about the movement toward creating a common economic space through the Single Market and Economy. Recently we have been shocked to hear that this is on hold and that the focus of our leaders will be on consolidating the Caribbean Single Market. Does this make any sense at all?

Are these people serious? For one we have been without a Secretary General for some time and there is a lot of pussyfooting about appointing one. One can just imagine what goes on behind the scenes and the kind of jockeying that is taking place. There is absolutely no doubt that with the way things are at the moment there is more than ever need for solid leadership at the level of the Secretary General. It is the hope of all concerned Caribbean people that someone to match the qualities of former holders of that position is needed. Some of our leaders don’t seem to see it that way. Our nominee is Ambassador John. With all due regards to Ambassador John and meaning no disrespect at all, could we be serious with him as a nominee? I will really like to be told of the special qualities he will bring to that position. It is things like these that should lead us to believe that our leaders are not serious. The Caribbean Single Market and Economy will not solve our problems but it is the only hope of survival in this terribly competitive global village that we have. We need to pool our resources and to operate as a single space and take things to another level. Will a Secretary General be appointed at the upcoming meeting in July of the Heads of Government? We just have to wait and see.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.