Barbadians should take a leaf or two … or three … from the books of those students at the Grantley Adams Memorial School.
For the past four days, scores of children at the St Joseph school have engaged in a ‘hunger strike’, vowing not to purchase meals from the school’s canteen because of their alleged poor quality and high price.
Their action began on Monday after the principal banned them from purchasing food from outside vendors whom, the children claim, provide better quality food at lower prices.
While the debate continues about who is right and who is wrong in this scenario the situation proves, once again, there is strength in numbers.
We can safely assume these children did not just wake up one morning and decide to stage a protest.
It seems their concerns about the school’s canteen were brought to the attention of the relevant authorities to no avail.
According to reports, some teachers even opted to buy food from the vendors, further strengthening the student’s claims the canteen’s offerings were inadequate.
One of the most compelling things about this ‘strike’’ is that the children between the ages of 11 and 18 were able to orchestrate it. From all accounts, students from First Form straight up to Upper Fifth have joined, signaling planned action, organized with great efficiency at that.
Their decision to boycott the canteen led to an emergency meeting between officials from the Ministry of Education and management of the school, with a senior official from the Ministry also meeting with the children to discuss their concerns.
Now while the students’ stance is admirable, the decision by some of them to jump the fence defying their principal’s orders not to purchase outside food is not. Their strike can be effectively done the right way and without being disobedient.
The vendors who sold food to the children are also to be blamed. They should not have encouraged the students to go against the school’s management.
Having said this, we hope those students who were reportedly suspended as a result of their involvement in the strike action were punished for other reasons. These students stood up against what they believed was unfair treatment, something their adult counterparts have shown reluctance to do.
Since the implementation of the National Social and Responsibility Levy (NSRL) by the last administration, Barbadians have been crying out about the excessive cost of items, especially in the supermarkets.
The Barbados Labour Party repealed the NSRL but those prices have still not dropped.
Yet, while constantly complaining about high prices, Barbadians continue to buy.
Motorists are heard on a daily basis condemning the ‘gas tax’ and pleading for an ease at the pump. Yet, at almost any time during the day around the country, gas stations full of vehicles waiting in line to purchase fuel is a common sight.
No one has been willing to take a stand or to make a decision to boycott these services until prices are lowered. Barbadians continue about their business as though all is well and they are comfortable.
Not these students from Grantley Adams though.
They have had enough.