Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by John Goddard
It is time for the government to consider new ways of moving Barbados forward. First, tourism has served us well but needs to be expanded, and new industries developed.
Educational tourism has room for development. Apart from the encouragement of offshore universities, private citizens can be given incentives to establish boarding schools catering to secondary students from all over the world.
When I was a schoolboy, there were four such schools accommodating both day boys and boarders: The Lodge School, Mapps College, Presentation College, and Codrington High School. Those of us who attended such institutions learned to be tolerant and to appreciate different cultures.
Very importantly, the island earned much-needed foreign exchange and Bajans found work providing cooking, laundering, and cleaning services. I suspect that with a reformed educational system, we could attract wealthy foreign students looking for a new educational experience.
Moving from education, I wish to turn to Sports and Culture. Any serious government must see the enormous benefits of investing in Sports and Culture. If our athletes are to reach world-class standards, we must first provide adequate resources, starting with a brand new national stadium.
In the sixties, a Democratic Labour Party government built the first national stadium, but the present government must do whatever is necessary to ensure that our athletes are provided with a facility that would motivate them to do their best.
The winning of a bronze medal in the Women’s 400 metres by Sada Williams at the World Athletics Championship should shame us into recognising that she did it without being able to train and compete at a national stadium in the land of her birth. In short, we contributed very little to her success.
Secondly, more must be done to promote sports at primary and secondary schools. At present, Physical Education is the Cinderella subject in our schools. That attitude must be brought to a screeching halt.
In the same way that we view skipping classes in Maths seriously, we must adopt the same attitude to Physical Education. There must no longer be excuses for children not wearing game uniforms or hiding elsewhere on the compound during Physical Educational periods.
Encouragement must be given to parents to let their children with sporting abilities continue playing sports even in senior school. The idea that academics and sports don’t mix has been debunked ages ago. In fact, when I was a schoolboy, the brightest boys were also the top cricketers, footballers and track and field athletes.
On the issue of culture, there is no doubt that this small island is blessed with an abundance of talent. What our artistes need is support.
There is no point in having a Cultural Industries Act if it is not going to be fully used to develop those we now refer to as creatives. If our musicians, singers, dramatists, visual artists, craftsmen and women, and food specialists among others receive the help they deserve, the world market is open to them and Barbados will benefit from a new and lucrative industry.
With regard to funding, I know that the lottery presently provides some financial help, but that is not nearly enough.
I think it is necessary to have the Lottery run by the state so that the profits can be used to finance Sports and Culture.
And while we are at it, sports persons and creatives ought to be benefitting from duty-free items that are necessary for their businesses.
Barbadians must move beyond being consumers of technology to being innovators. Government should invest in a facility that can be used for gifted information technology specialists to produce video games for the local, Caribbean and international markets.
All we need is to garner a very small part of the video games trade and we can provide decent work for our youth while earning valuable foreign exchange.
For society to advance, the health system must improve. Since assuming the reins of power, the present administration has imposed a health levy, appointed a highly paid Executive Director for the QEH, and constructed a new Accident and Emergency building. Unfortunately, there has been very little change in service delivery at the hospital.
If anything the waiting time at the hospital has increased.
I think it is time for a dedicated gun crime unit at the institution where victims of gunshots can be taken for urgent treatment. One main advantage of this initiative is that it would free up staff not dealing with such injuries, to attend to other cases of emergency.
At present, too many resources have to be diverted from treating genuine illnesses to trying to treat those who suffer gunshot wounds. The levy should be providing enough money for us to run a more efficient hospital.
Another concern is the quality of food served at the tertiary care facility. Sick people need nutritious and tasty food to facilitate healing. Too often, the food leaves much to be desired and does not take into consideration the dietary needs of patients. Better can and must be done.
The truth is that with effective leadership, this little rock can really “punch above its weight”, as opposed to lining up with our begging bowls looking for scraps from countries who care nothing about small states such as ours.
John Goddard retired but was always an educator.