By Kathy Badenock
Another day, another dollar; another week, another wasted life. In moments like these, many persons tend to point fingers: poverty, drugs, police, government, parents, schools, the list goes on and on. While none of these responses are by no means without their place in the discourse on what is wrong with our beloved nation, another important question is why are our youths so susceptible?
I dare to say that we are failing our children: all of us. Every established nation in the world recognises the importance of raising nationalistic citizens. It is for this reason that national history, culture and civics, though written from the perspective of the historical winner, is taught from primary school until secondary school. American, English, Jamaican, Trinidadian children grow up confident that their music, culture, dialect is important. Even when exposed to other cultures, they are taught to recognise that foreign is not necessarily better.
A lot of lip service has been paid to our culture, our Garifuna heritage, our history. Correct me if I am wrong, but is it still not taught in schools that Christopher Columbus discovered St. Vincent? Why is local history only being taught in secondary schools and even then, it is optional? Why does it appear that carnival is the only part of our culture? Why is history relegated to October, for Independence? Did all of our history only happen in one month? It should not be a surprise then that many of our youth are turning to dancehall music and bleaching. They are not made aware of the tremendous foundation they have to stand on. In this regard, we are failing our children. Unfortunately, we have not matured enough psychologically as a nation to recognise the need to teach our past to our future so that they can chart a new direction forward. Yes, as there is an increase in inequality, there will be an increase in the demand for protection against the effects of inequality. However, we can temper how this protection is manifested. A start is to include national history and culture as compulsory parts of our primary school curriculum.
So, how do we proceed from here? The opinions expressed earlier on are by no means new and are shared by many Vincentians. I dare say that we can look to our Jamaican counterparts as a model. Students are taught in Grade 2 about plants and animals in their community, how to care for plants and animals in their community, how to listen to and retell folktales and how to recognise the part values play in building and destroying relationships. In Grade 3, they are taught aspects of the Jamaican culture and how to relate to other cultures. While we should not adopt every aspect of their education curriculum, it is only wise practice to learn from their experience.
Our own Dr. Adrian Fraser created a series “From whence we came”. Efforts can be made to update and recreate this series in a more child-friendly format for reproduction in schools. Another suggestion is to republish the story of Turner, the slave who wrote on conditions of the Pembroke Estate and include it as required reading at some level in the education system. The options are as limitless as our ideas and would serve to breathe new life into our thinking on the possibilities of our tourism, culture and agricultural industries. This is a rallying cry to all Vincentians: when we fail our children, we fail ourselves.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].