For as long as we can remember, employers and a host of other interested parties have bemoaned the parlous condition of this nation’s educational systems.
We have on occasion lamented the fact that there is a major disconnect in our country as regards schooling and education.
As things now stand, we are – as a people – spending more and more on schooling while reaping year in and year out harvests of uncouth youth; thousands of near-illiterates and tens of thousands of youth who are woefully behind in mathematics and basic calculation. We have been at this losing game for most of the past five decades.
Into the breach marches Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education.
As news reports show, Fitzgerald and some of his esteemed colleagues seem to be of the view that once you corral ‘just the right type of folks’ and turn them into a Committee, you can somehow or the other hammer out a consensus on education in The Bahamas, moving forward.
He also seems convinced that once you bring representatives of the various political parties to that sweet place where they can discuss and plan and hope for the best that somehow or the other, they would birth a vision for this nation’s educational future.
As we learn, the ‘Fitzgerald Group’ has agreed to work together to develop ideas that will transition into a plan and ultimately policies, which will govern education in our country for the next 15-20 years.
And then this boast to beat all boasts:-“It is not a PLP plan. It is not an FNM plan. It is not a DNA plan. It is a Bahamian Plan. It is a plan for the direction that education is to take for the advancement of the Bahamian people.”
In truth, it is a plan by the few, involving the few and which is intended for the many.
This is fundamentally anti-democratic.
And of course, wishing and hoping otherwise can and will achieve nothing of real value for the Bahamian people.
Indeed, no matter how clever this or that Committee might wish to see itself, the fact remains that governance is always best when it involves the people, thus our suggestion that the Minister of Education might yet – be well-advised – to get on with delivering the promises made by his party in their Charter of Governance.
The Bahamian people elect governments to do their best during their five-year term of office.
More to the point, Committees do not produce visions.
Parties envisage how they would lead if given the opportunity.
In office, they either succeed or fail in the effort!
This then is the crux of the matter: – Today’s Progressive Liberal Party is called to deliver on promise already made.
We would have thought that moving forward requires far less elite intervention and far more mass participation in decisions that matter to the so-called man in the street. We would also have thought that the Progressive Liberal Party [granted its long involvement with the masses of our people, would do all that it could to re-build this vitally important connection.
It is one hell of a thing when full-grown men and women could decide among themselves that each and every one of them has precisely and exactly what the Bahamian people need, moving forward.
We refer to those fine ladies and gentlemen who now fill seats on a so-called ‘Political Committee for a Shared Vision for Education 2030’ as it was called into being by Minister of Education, Jerome Fitzgerald.
As we have reported in the Journal:-“…The group has agreed to work together to develop ideas that will transition into a plan and ultimately policies, which will govern education in our country for the next 15-20 years…”
The minister thanked Prime Minister Perry Christie for his support and for sanctioning the meeting.
The Committee in question has space on it for former Education Minister, Carl Bethel and Member of Parliament for St. Anne’s Hubert Chipman and FNM Senator Desmond Bannister.
And then, there is Mark Humes, Chairman of the Democratic National Alliance. The Journal also indicated that Minister Fitzgerald also expressed gratitude to the representatives of the government who have been called upon to serve on this committee which included National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin, Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin and Chairman of the Council of The College of The Bahamas, Alfred Sears.
Where are the professionals in Educational Development? Where are the experts?
Also serving on the committee is President of the Senate Sharon Wilson.
And yet, we hope and pray that they are not embarked on a voyage of futility.