‘Wrong approach to education
June 3, 2005
‘Wrong approach to education

by Maxwell Haywood in New York

Opposition LEADER and President of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Arnhim Eustace has told a New York audience he is not in complete opposition to governments policy of universal access to secondary education.

Eustace however made it clear that he was against the way the policy was being implemented by the governing Unity Labour Party (ULP). {{more}}

The NDP leader, last May 26, addressed Vincentians in New York, at the Café Omar in Brooklyn. Despite the rainy conditions, a relatively large audience was present and in a speech that lasted more than an hour, he outlined his positions on various issues.

Eustace reviewed the work of the New Democratic Party (NDP) since it lost the elections in 2001. He recalled the parties protest marches, the help the party gives to school children and poor people in need of assistance, its radio programme, and the changes to the party’s constitution to make it more democratic.

But on the issue of universal secondary education, he stated that the focus should be on the primary school level where there are many problems, and not at the secondary level at this time. This, since as he saw it, the government does not have the capacity for such an undertaking.

Eustace also said the rush to implement the universal access to secondary education as an objective of the ULP’s education policy was nothing more than a political objective which is to show that the ULP had fulfilled its election promise.

On elections, the former Prime Minister wants outside observers to observe the process leading up to the election instead of observing just during the actual elections. This, according to Eustace, is important to achieve free and fair elections. He did not express confidence in the election process so far and called for the electoral list to be cleaned up.

In addition, the opposition leader addressed the issue of political victimization, which he said also affects those at the lower end of the labour market, such as those working on the roads and watchmen.

He specifically charged that a watchman was fired by a minister of government because he was listening to E. G Lynch on NICE Radio. He said that the NDP brought the issue of political victimization to the attention of the local media which did nothing about it. It was for this reason he stated that he had to go to Barbados to speak with the regional media about political victimization in SVG. He said this was how the information got out and was broadcast.

He charged that Vincentians were living in some very hard times. He said that poverty was so deep that people were beginning to use their household appliances as collateral to buy items needed for sustaining life.

Furthermore, Eustace expressed concern that other islands in the Caribbean were doing better than SVG in the tourism sector. He however noted the fact that the government should not be blamed for the banana situation facing SVG. The Leader of the Oppostion said it is not a problem caused by the ULP or the NDP. He pointed out that the origins of the banana problem must be located within the external environment in the global economy. He also stressed that the economic market forces in the global economy were too powerful for the local banana industry.

Eustace was also adamant that the Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, has too many ministerial responsibilities. He listed each of them and stressed that no one man could efficiently carry out so many responsibilities.

Finally, in response to a question about Vincentians who live abroad, the opposition leader called for a Trust Fund to be established. This Trust Fund he said, could serve to employ Vincentians living abroad who could make a contribution to SVG. He went on to stress that SVG would be worse off without the remittances sent by Vincentians in the diaspora.