RDF SYMPOSIUM - ON COMMEMORATIVE MAGAZINE
Declaration of Principles
NY Governor Pataki
Want to go home?
DEXIA - New Approach
Mo n Mo Music
Productivity and Economy
Health & the Diaspora
A Call to Action
Do You Remember When?
Technol. & Intel. Capital
Planning for Agriculture
Security & Development
Dominica State College
DSS in Partnership
Dominica & Integration
Education for Survival
Globalisation & Caribbean
Skills for Internet Age
Legacy of Rosie Douglas-1
EDUCATION FOR SURVIVAL IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY
by Dr. Clayton Shillingford
This one-day Symposium is being held at a critical point in Dominica's economic and social development. It will be carried out under the auspices of the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences (DAAS), the Rosie Douglas Foundation (RDF), and affiliated Dominican Associations in the UK, US, Canada and elsewhere. As indicated in the title it will attempt to define the role of "The Dominican Diaspora in the Development Process" at a time when the economic survival of the country is under threat.
The Education Panel aims to create greater trust and understanding between resident Dominicans and either returning nationals or overseas residents to see how the potential for significant contribution to national development can be achieved.
The Statistical Digest published in October 1999 on the occasion of the 21st Anniversary of Dominica's Independence showed that:
Dominica's fortunes depend to a very large extent on our position in the global economy. We have to persevere against the unsentimental forces of globalization. Education will be an important corner stone to our development strategy. Our neighbour to the northwest, Cuba, has been able to survive in spite of severe pressures because they adopted aggressive programs in education and health. Costa Rica has been called the Switzerland of Latin America because of their superior educational system.
Our citizens must know and be able to enforce their rights as consumers and citizens in a democratic society. This can be achieved through public debate and discussion and information about the quality of service for which consumers are paying. It is not unusual in Dominica to hear frequent announcements that essential public utilities, water and electricity, will be shut off and to hear the statement from the utility company that "we regret the inconvenience to the public". The problems are chronic and the causes are well known. Inefficiencies are passed to the public in higher rates.
Citizenship must stand on a sound understanding of our history (slavery, colonialism, dependence, poverty) and culture (music, art, folk lore, cuisine, language etc).
We must mount aggressive voter registration and non-partisan education drives in every community including our non- resident communities. Our citizens should be taught to watch dog all Government decisions, including appointments of persons to high positions to ensure their commitment to justice, fair play and the national interest. We must increase our activities in coalition building by integrating our efforts with other Dominican or international institutions that share our mission and purposes.
Native Carib Dominicans should be brought into full citizenship in our country in work, education, and health services.
Relevance of Education
Our educational institutions should examine the curricula in great depth to assure relevance to the social and economic development needs of our society. In that context, agricultural training should be high on the agenda, as should computer literacy. We need focused attention to provide accelerated education to women, older citizens and other disadvantaged citizens to close the gap between those who are reasonably "fluent" in computer concepts and applications and those who are being left behind. The impact will be a marked effect on productivity and quality of life for our citizens and a leap forward for the economy.
We are living in a world in which the pace of technological innovation is increasing daily. We have an urgent need to move with the times. We must provide a broad education to our people of all age groups in computers, contemporary science, medicine and health. We have an immediate need for continuing education of the adult population to improve their knowledge and to upgrade the skills of those who are already employed. That is the mission of DAAS and RDF. That mission must be broadened to include every citizen. We should spend time creating new things not recreating old ideas. We must close the digital and literacy divide among our people.
Productivity is low both in the private and public sectors. Measures of productivity have not been included in the Statistical Digest nor in the 1998 "Review of the Economy". We need to accomplish more with our existing physical and human resources. We need to work smarter and faster through education, better communications, appropriate technology and information. We have to persevere against the unsentimental forces of globalization.
Employees should be trained to develop the attitude that we are all in the same boat and should it sink we will all sink as well. We need a new spirit of entrepreneurship. Greater effort should be devoted to identifying leaders in our ranks. Leaders and good managers will not arise through nepotism, favouritism and victimization. As an example, I was at the Ministry of Communications and Works during a recent visit. Some of the employees were playing calypso on the radio and dancing in the hallway during working hours. Presumably they had nothing productive to do. Our attitude towards work must change. Monetary or other reward system is a benefit from work and productive activity. We must learn that truth. The culture of indifference, "tou chaud tou flam" and "chou poule" must go.
Productivity must come as well from our prisons and juvenile detention facilities. Both facilities should engage in rehabilitative and training programs.
The Government and private industry should take an immediate look at our talent and human resource wherever that may reside. Why should we employ non-nationals in our development efforts when we have as good or better-qualified persons in our national pool? Moreover, non-nationals do not have the intensity of interest and background knowledge to ensure relevance of the project and the appropriate skills for implementation. Hence the vast library of reports on projects in Government offices that are dust collectors. Our professionals must partner with donor agencies, NGO's, international financial institutions like World Bank and IMF to ensure practicability of their proposals. Through collaborative effort, we must take a closer look at not only ways to develop local markets but also regional markets. Private and public sector must partner to ensure that curricula are compatible with employment requirements of business and service industries. Additionally private and public sector must provide opportunity for high school and returning University students to have internships in the real world of work.
There are many problems related to racism, discrimination, and poverty that our society has been reluctant to address. For many there is still inadequate access to health care, jobs, and other basic services. Gender discrimination and sometimes violence against women is still part of our society.
The first requirement here is to provide the vote to our nationals who reside abroad. They can bring a different perspective to bear on the political debate and national priorities. The move to build institutions like DAAS and RDF plus multiple Dominica Associations around the world provide new avenues for creative thought, investment, marketing opportunities, and leadership. We must be watchful at all times that our leaders are not on a campaign of aggrandizement and self interest.
Teachers should be required to do refresher courses to upgrade their knowledge and skills through a continuing certification system. Then since teaching is so central to our educational endeavours, the private and public sectors should make that profession as rewarding as possible.
Parental counseling should be provided. Parents should not only care for children, but also assist in the development of character, discipline, work ethic, ambition and guidance for them to become productive citizens. Mentoring should be targeted especially at our youth, but can be extended to adults as well. A program to help with homework and development of a positive attitude should be implemented.
Male students are performing worse than female students. Many teachers are women; this may have an effect in terms of absence of male role models.
Many of our citizens are not literate. We should develop new forms of education for them. We must stop violence against women and the underprivileged in our society.
We must now deal with literacy defined as reading and writing as well as literacy in computers and technology. There is an immediate need to bring the current school population into the computer world as well as to train workers in basic computer applications. This action is essential to increase productivity. Clerks are still handwriting invoices and receipts. In businesses inventory control is still a laborious exercise of "taking Stock". I have already alluded to computer and technological literacy. But we must establish the necessary foundation of reading and writing. Language arts should include Spanish and French as we move to closer collaboration with Latin America and our French neighbours.
The brain drain
Knowledge is power. Dominica has that critical mass of brainpower scattered throughout the Diaspora. It is time to make a collective effort to engage that power for the survival and growth of the nation. As a small nation in a rapidly growing global economy we must challenge all the old ways and find new creative means to protect the national interest.
We must teach our people and visitors to respect our fragile environment. Legislation may be in place to protect our forests, soils, water and air quality but we need to educate people to not only obey the law but to ensure that the image of the Nature Island can be maintained. Concern for the environment is critical to our development as a viable ecotourism location.
DAAS a cosponsor with RDF of this Symposium are seeking "practical solutions to Dominica's social and economic problems and attainable development goals". Both are non-profit, non-governmental organizations. Together their mission is to help Dominicans gain understanding, acquire relevant knowledge, and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world.
Beyond the recommendations cited above, I would like to endorse some of the recommendations made by Lester Telemaque in a Discussion Paper on the DAAS website titled Improving Education in Dominica. His recommendations refer mostly to Dominican youth.
I have paraphrased his recommendations below:
Lester Telemaque is a primary school teacher by profession. If you wish to communicate with him, his address is: Pointe Michel, Dominica Tel: (767) 448-7598/4806