The NDC under Franka Bernardine’s leadership will focus on developing our people’s academic and technical education.
It is an accepted fact that Franka Bernardine was one of the best performing ministers under the Tillman Thomas NDC administration of 2008 to 2012. Then, Bernardine served as Minister of Education and the new and innovative policies rolled out under her stewardship is a lasting legacy of that period. It is no surprise therefore, that people development through education and training will be the thrust of the new leadership of the NDC.
Our NDC leadership team is committed to making educational opportunities for all our children, boys and girls, a priority. The NDC is committed to rebuilding and enhancing the school books programme that the current administration has dismantled and politicised. Educating the nation should never be a matter of politics.
Grenada has the highest poverty rate in the Eastern Caribbean. One of the main reasons for this is that we lag too far behind the rest of the Caribbean in too many areas of training and education. It is critical for any government to invest in education. During her inaugural address, NDC Political Leader, Franka Bernardine, forcefully made the point that we can’t develop a country without developing your people. Furthermore, she correctly stated that we can only improve our economy by upgrading and improving the skills of our people.
The NDC will move training our people to the higher level so that they can aspire to much more than low end, low paying jobs. The NDC is very clear in its knowledge that we are a talented and capable people. That is why we must train our people sufficiently so that when we attract world-class investors, we will have a world-class workforce right here on island. This vision for our people is not too ambitious at all, because we have proven repeatedly and in a wide range of areas and disciplines that the best in the world comes from right here in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. That’s why we are determined that every Grenadian deserves a fair chance.
Training should be multi-faceted and across all the sectors. So that in addition to enhancing the school books programme, The NDC believes that any caring government serious about developing our people, will also focus on technical training. We say that technical training must be introduced at the primary level so that the special talents and capacities of our young people can be captured and nurtured from an early age. Our young people who are naturally inclined to technical and vocational skills should not be lost in an overly academic environment where their talents are not properly harnessed. The current government is performing woefully in this area. Only a change of government will fix this.
We must make better use of the skills of our returning nationals. We must have an open mind and give opportunities to every Grenadian regardless of their political leaning or social and economic background. Education helps to break the poverty cycle. Breaking the poverty cycle is now a critical need because, among other things, Grenada has the highest poverty rate in the Caribbean outside of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
When the scholarship desk was established under the guidance of Sister Franka Bernardine as Minister of Education, it was envisaged as a professional and unbiased agency, without political influence. Based on the way this current government operates, it is impossible for this desk to be run in the way that it was intended. Many young Grenadians who are not aligned to or supportive of this government are forced to curb their right to freedom of association, speech and conscience, in order to obtain a scholarship. The NDC finds it abhorrent that our people are subjected to such political abuse.
The National Training Agency, which was also established under the guidance of Bernardine as Minister of Education, has not been developed in the way it was intended. An NDC government will give all the technical and financial support that agency needs to realise its fullest potential and mandate. Enhancement of technical training must be emphasised and enhanced at all levels.
The NDC is committed to delivering the UWI campus or in any event, a second university campus in rural Grenada. This is one way in which we can take our country to the next level of development.
We in the NDC are not surprised by this government’s failure to pursue a robust education policy. A highly trained, informed and well-developed population will be detrimental to the tactics they use to survive.