Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, thinks that Caribbean people should demonstrate that they can make a major input into human civilisation.
Jones expressed this view while addressing the official opening of the Sagicor Visionaries Regional Challenge for 12 schools in the region. Referring to the high level of rainfall which Dominica experiences, Jones queried what was being done with the surplus water.
He asked: “Why isn’t that water exported? Why isn’t it adequately bottled? The water could be shipped to these great tourist destinations. Why does it pour into the sea. That is a resource, yet we bring water from Turkey, France, out of some mountain peak in the US, but just up the road is a country with more water than the Caribbean needs.
“We are not exploiting our own resources. That comes from a level of complacency. When you are at a level of complacency, your development does not take place. You are stagnated and mediocrity becomes the hallmark of everything you do.”
The minister challenged the region’s young people to move out of the mould in which the region was stuck, suggesting that they have to make the difference and be refashioned “because we have fashioned them in a particular way”.
“We have said to them, it is not necessary to make anything because we can import it cheaper from somewhere else, which says to the youth they should not be great scientific researchers to find the cure for diabetes or HIV/AIDS,” Jones said.
“We seem to say, ‘Let someone else do it’, then import it. One of the things that we do well in the region is import. If the product is made on Mars we are going to get a spaceship to land it there, we are going to send customs brokers to clear the goods, we will take it to a warehouse, break it down into convenient parts; we are going to send it down to supermarkets, village shops and then we are going to say how please we are with that product from Mars.”
The former veteran educator suggested that the Caribbean should go through the change necessary to ensure that the region was part of the global reality. He maintained that the people of the region must not stand by with folded arms like beggars.
“We have to change that mould, we have to change that model. We have to get our teachers as visionaries as well. One of the greatest dangers that Caribbean education faces today is the dearth of visionaries in the classroom – those who challenge our students to be mentally expansive, rather than engage in simple rote.
“It must not be ‘I did it so ten years ago, therefore it must be the same ten years hence’. All of that has to change,” Jones warned.
The minister complimented Sagicor for using its own financial resources to encourage creativity among the region’s youth and promised that in the next competition all 22 secondary schools in Barbados would be participating.††
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