September 23, 2005
Twenty-five years of education Cuba-SVG

by Caspar London

Twenty-five years ago, a Revolution in education began in this country, initiated by an organization named the Youlou United Liberation Movement (Yulimo) and carried on by the United People’s Movement (UPM). Young men and women were sent to the Socialist Republic of Cuba to study, so we could have a cadre of qualified professionals to serve the development needs of the country. {{more}}

During the 1970’s and 80’s Yulimo, and later the UPM, were the vanguard organizations advocating a new socio-political economic order for the development of the country. Their programme of transformation of the social order had as its first priority the educational development of the people. The process was started internally with political classes for its members and was extended to the masses through its three journals, Freedom, Justice and Beacon.

As a Socialist-oriented organisation, Yulimo and then the UPM, developed fraternal relations with Cuba and in 1975/76 approached the Cuban authorities for assistance in granting university scholarships to Vincentians youths and students. The Cuban authorities were willing to assist, but had preferred to offer the scholarships through the government instead so there would have been a state to state cooperation in the field of education.

The then government showed no interest in this area of development of our people. As such, the educational and professional development of Vincentian youths were held back.

Yulimo and the UPM felt that the position of the then government was not in keeping with the aspirations and desires of the youths and students who wanted to be university trained. Thus, Yulimo negotiated through the Cuban Communist Party for scholarships and was successful in having Vincentian Students sent off to Cuban Universities.

During these twenty-five years of cooperation between Cuba and this country in the field of university education, hundreds of Vincentians have been trained in the areas of economics, engineering, medicine, dentistry, accounts, telecommunications, agriculture and many other fields of study.

It was once said by past chairman of the Public Service Commission, Dr. Kenneth John, that the Cuban trained professionals were the most disciplined and conscientious workers in the public service. This speaks well of the Cuban graduates.

It is a pity that we are so caught up in partisan party politics that many do not remember this revolutionary breakthrough moved in university education in this country 25 years ago. I salute all the brothers and sisters of Yulimo and UPM at that time who made this education revolution possible. The comrade Renwick “Kamara” Rose, who put in yeoman service to make sure that students were sent off to Cuba yearly. It is fitting that those in authority in the field of education recognise his contribution in this area and pay tribute.

• Caspar London was a member of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cuba Friendship Association, which was very active in the 1970s and lay the groundwork for eventual relations with the Republic of Cuba.