Lions Club, Ministry of Education to meet on Public Speaking competition
September 27, 2013

Lions Club, Ministry of Education to meet on Public Speaking competition

Ronald Christopher, president of the Lions Club South, says his organization is hoping to meet soon with the Ministry of Education, to discuss the upcoming secondary schools public speaking competition.{{more}}

The competition, scheduled to begin next Tuesday with the preliminary rounds, hit a snag when the partners had differences of opinion about the topics up for discussion.

If the impasse is not resolved soon, the competition, with the finals scheduled for October 24, may have to be postponed.

“We are trying to have some discussion with the ministry and we are supposed to set a time and date; as soon as that happens we would talk,” Christopher told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, when he was contacted by phone.

Christopher also said that it is his hope that the matter is resolved before next week’s scheduled start.

“We are willing to make sure this thing happens, because this thing is bigger than us,” he said.

Last week, a local newspaper reported that the Ministry changed three of the four topics to be used in the preliminary zones of this year’s competition, a move, the Lions have reportedly described as “high-handed”.

According to the report, the topics chosen by the Club for the Zonal competition were: Zone 1: “The regularity, intensity and nature of crimes committed in St Vincent and the Grenadines is causing panic among the citizenry of the state”; Zone 2: “St Vincent and the Grenadines no longer produces athletes and sports persons fit for the international arena”; Zone 3: “The call for reparation should be driven by overwhelming public opinion and not by politicians”; Zone 4: “Drug and Alcohol dependency, particularly among young adults, is a disease too often overlooked”.

In a letter dated September 13, the Ministry of Education informed the Lions of changes to the first three topics as follows: Zone 1: “The commission of serious crimes in St Vincent and the Grenadines has not yet reached the level of causing panic among the citizenry of the state”; Zone 2: “The production of athletes and sportspersons in St Vincent and the Grenadines for international competition is on the rise”; Zone 3: “The call for Reparations for native genocide and slavery is in effect a summons for the righting of historical wrongs.”

According to the newspaper report, the Lions said as a non-governmental body, they will not accept this level of “governmental interference”. They also advised that they will not be hosting the competition unless the Ministry “withdraws this edict, develops a proper protocol of non interference and engages our club in a respectful manner.”

The secondary schools public speaking competition has been sponsored by telecommunications provider LIME, for more than 30 years.

SEARCHLIGHT made attempts to contact chief education officer Louanne Gilchrist, but was unable to do so.