Category Archives: Human Capital

The Murder of the Keil’s: Connecting the dots and Uprooting Xenophobic Attitudes in Tobago

IMG_0941.PNG

 

Tobago has unfortunately placed itself in the international spotlight.    The full-page headlines in many German and European newspapers over the past week that read, “HACKED TO DEATH,” is damaging to the island; there are no “ifs ands or buts” about it.  In fact, it is not the first time that foreigners have been the victims of brutal attacks and the internet is filled with information about the troubles that take place in tiny Tobago.   On their search for expectations of paradise and island living, they unfortunately met their deaths like the Keil’s or the Green’s, a UK couple currently suing the government who was assaulted a few years ago.  We strongly condemn these acts of violence.

When critical events of this nature happens on a small island it requires taking stock of where we are as a people, a society and ultimately a country.  These are not random acts of violence and while we don’t know the individual motives of various crimes because most times we cannot find the perpetrators; there comes a point when the society itself is the perpetrator and should bear some responsibility for these acts violence.  Clearly this collective responsibility is not distributed equally because at the end of the day, power is not distributed equally but as Tobagonians we must bear a cost, whether now or in the future.  In getting to the root causes of why there should be collective responsibility, the society becomes the perpetrator because of the perception and or reality of how foreigners are treated and this includes Trinidadians and even native Tobagonians who left and returned to the island.

Before we get into the heart of this commentary, I should make you aware of any bias.   I am Tobagonian by birth, American by nationality and I myself have received the “you not from here,” from some Tobagonians I have encountered during my times in Tobago.   I cannot say that I have been blatantly discriminated against, perhaps denied some opportunities based on my youthful appearance but the qualifications that accompany me which I don’t boast of is enough to be threat just by the fact I might think or ask a question or two.

Nevertheless, this is not about me but I have heard countless stories of Tobagonians who have lived abroad for many years and faced discrimination upon return.  In fact, I know of one nurse, who returned to England because what she experienced at the hospital.    The simple fact was her capacity, training and professionalism placed in a system where she went against the grain.  These stories are based on the experiences of individuals with direct connection to Tobago about that sense of “you not from here,” so I can only imagine what those without connection to Tobago may experience from some.

While I do not believe the majority of Tobagonians are suspicious of those they deem “outsiders” there is enough rhetoric in the society to suggest it is a problem.   I think it is normal for anyone from anywhere to ask themselves in their heads about the “presence of others” whether in their village, community, island, or country.   The majority of citizens would not plot or conspire to rob or murder others, much less talk out “wha dem ah do ya” or share hostile remarks that suggest “others” are not welcomed.     However, people hear remarks like these at times, and when they do hear them it suggests to them something about the society and the fact that they might be unwelcomed by some.   The majority of Tobagonians continue to be hospitable people, but hospitable people can also stay silent at things they should speak up for and this is the silent suffering in Tobago.  It is such a loud silence that we talk about it, we acknowledge it happens, but we never confront it and though as individuals we might be against it, we collective condone it because we do not collectively confront it.

Xenophobia has many synonyms, some of which includes (racism, nationalism, prejudice, racial intolerance and dislike for foreigners).  I am deliberately changing the rest this commentary to a Q&A format because in an effort to fully conceptualize why this is a serious problem that must be dealt with effectively and immediately the reader should do some inquiry (ask questions)

Q: Is Tobago a racist society?

A: Racism exists in all societies.  It is very difficult for a society to call itself racist, but understanding racism requires an understanding of power structures.   Not liking a person because of the color of their skin is prejudice, but it becomes racist when you are in a position to deny that person an opportunity of some sort. While Tobago is not a blatantly racist society like the apartheid state that existed in South Africa in the past or the United States that practiced legalized segregation, there are elements of racism that exists in Tobago like anywhere else.    It should be noted that Tobago is 95% black.    While race might not be a divisive problem within Tobago; it is a society based on class stratification (income inequality).

Q:  What is nationalism and how does it relate the Tobago?

A: Nationalism is an ideology about nationhood.   There are many forms of nationalism.  For example, patriotism includes displays of national colors, the flag, the feeling of pride one has for their country, and the duty one owes to country, like service in the military.    This is an accepted form of nationalism that people from all countries typically have.    This is what you see normally displayed during soccer matches during the World Cup or independence parades.  Nationalism in an extreme form gave rise to World War I, where these feelings erupted all over Europe and ultimately led to two world wars and the shaping of the modern world was we know it.  It is dangerous and deadly in its extreme form, especially when others factors are at work, such as militarism.  Interestedly, synonyms of nationalism includes (independence, autonomy, self-rule and self-government).    These concepts are important to Tobagonians and the turn on the inflamed political passions of people.

Q:  What is an example of “inflamed political passion” in the Tobago case?

A:  Tobago has an interesting political culture and elections typically arouse these inflamed political passions.   On a larger scope, politics in Trinidad and Tobago is masked in utterances of something locally known as “picong”.  When this is aligned with the political history which has a racial undertone given the historic voter bases of the main parties, some individuals cross the line and acts of racism are perpetuated, sometimes masked in utterances of ‘picong”.  A major example of this was the “Calcutta Ship” statement made by Hilton Sandy during the 2013 THA election. Despite the apology that was issued, this one statement has probably done more damage affecting the progress of what could have been accomplished between the THA and Central Government, despite the election results.  There was a communication breakdown between both entities and this hindered some progress.

Q: Why was the ‘Calcutta Ship’ an example of racial intolerance?   What is the real problem?

A: The Calcutta Ship statement whether it was deliberate or not, whether part of a campaign strategy or whether it just popped into the head of the individual who made the statement on a political platform, it played on the fears of many.  Tobagonians understand the concept of land and wealth, but unfortunately more than 85% of Tobagonians do not have deeds and titles to their lands, despite occupying these “family lands” for many years.   Almost every culture experience the conflict over land that takes places in families, tribes and nations over land and Tobago is no different.   The Calcutta Ship was the easiest way to galvanize support of an “us vs them” (the government – the Calcutta people) strategy to win the election, creating an “enemy” who will “take your land”.  Perhaps it was convenient, but we can only hope inflammatory statements of this nature cease to be a part of political discourse.

Q:  How does all this relate to the Kiel’s, the Greens and “a dislike for foreigners”?

A:  Xenophobia’s is the dislike for foreigners and this happens everywhere.  Tobago is not an isolated case neither is it the exception but the Keil’s were killed in Tobago and the Green’s were assaulted in Tobago, not elsewhere.  We are a tourist destination, domestically and internationally and while we cannot stop bad things from happening there is no need to suffer in collective silence; there is a need to speak up.   Hopefully in speaking up justice will prevail for the Keil’s, the Green’s and all those whose lives were tragically cut short by criminals occupying the Tobago space.    Additionally, in speaking up we should speak loud enough so that the world can hear us. This will require speech, language and discourse that shows we are ready to do business with the rest of the world.   Disliking foreigners and public usage of racist language even if masked in utterances of picong are things that do not belong in a society that seeks to develop itself.

 

 

Advertisements

SEA on the Chopping Block???

When universal secondary education became a reality in Trinidad and Tobago it was a good move for the country.    In principle secondary school placement for all children contributes to the development of the nation.   Our inherited colonial education system from the British has created an interesting dynamic whereby some schools are “more prestigious” than others.

Many of us would remember the Common Entrance exam.   When some students failed this exam, it crippled their development and more or less carved out a space for them in the society and the types of jobs they would eventually take on.    Fortunately, when it was eliminated, and these lifetime roles were no longer determined at the age of 11 and 12.

The successor of the Common Entrance Exam was the Secondary Entrance Assessment, (SEA).    Students now have multiple options and based on their performance are guaranteed placement in a secondary school.  With talks of the possible elimination of the SEA by the Minister of Education Dr. Tim Gopeesingh the opportunity to discuss the way forward is now a matter of public interest and discussion.

In all reality there might be good evidence for the elimination of the SEA but the question must be asked, what would determine the criteria for entrance?  The elimination of SEA is something that cannot and probably will not be done overnight because it will require some major transformation of the primary school system.   Attention would have to be given to the curriculum while continuous assessment will become the order of the day, which will have a direct impact of how students are taught.  .

Furthermore, many of our students slip through the cracks of the educational system and little or no services are provided for the academic and socioemotional challenges they face.  Before SEA is eliminated, the government and all stakeholders must provide a solution to deal with our special-needs population, whether they are autistic or diagnosed with some type of learning disabilities.   Our teachers currently lack the strategies and capacities to effectively handle these students and in many regards they are pushed to the side and labeled dunce.

Would the elimination of the SEA bring an end to the “prestige schools” syndrome?  I don’t know because this is something that exists the world over.     My position is, if and when the SEA is eliminated (which I believe it should), we have to take a hands on approach with our schools.   We would have to tackle the problem of endemic failure of all low performing schools in urban and rural areas.

Will students be zoned to the nearest secondary school?  This would ruffle some feathers and probably not the best solution.  The development of specialized secondary schools is an area that the Ministry of Education and the “prestige schools” should further explore.   The fact of the matter is our secondary educational system is still colonial and unfortunately trapped in somewhere in the 19th or early 20th century.     A 21st century education system is needed to continue to facilitate the development agenda.

There is much to consider with the possible elimination of the SEA, however, if it is done correctly it has the potential to reform the educational system and thrust it into the 21stcentury, but it should be thoughtful and make every attempt to eliminate the “prestige syndrome” while creating better schools where all students can thrive and grow.

20140312-084509.jpg

Tobago Carnival 2014, its a wrap: postmortem talks

While I was not in Tobago for Carnival 2014, social media comments and the morning call-in show on Radio Tambrin provides enough evidence to draw conclusions about what happened.   All this evidence is important and those in charge of Carnival should have a listening ear with hopes of improving the Carnival Season in the near future.

Approximately TTD$9 million was spent on Tobago’s Carnival in 2014.    While it is the expectation of many Tobagonians that the Tobago House of Assembly contribute significantly to the Carnival Season, it is also important that the people know where their monies go.    After a transfer of cash from the THA in such large proportions it is only right that the people know who benefits.   This adds to any government’s record of credibility, good governance, accountability and transparency.

There is little to no evidence that documents Tobago’s Carnival as a revenue-generating event Tobago House of Assembly.  What percentage of the investment is recuperated and put directly back into the coffers of the Assembly?  While individuals such as the food vendors, the lady selling souse, and the guy who owns a bar will make some money during the season especially on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, this is money coming directly from pockets of Tobagonians into these small business owners and entrepreneurs.

What then happens to the TTD$9 million spent?   Money does not vanish into thin air; it is simply reallocated to finance something else after good and services were provided.   We know that some of the money would to things like prizes, equipment rental such as stages, sound, lighting, chairs and some to bandleaders to help them with costumes.   Those responsible for planning the season and dispensing public resources should account annually as to where the money goes but go beyond a financial report to a comprehensive report of the happenings of the entire season.     If we are to move beyond the ‘eat ah food’ mentality that has negatively plagued the island, the appropriate policies will be develop to ensure a carnival season we all can enjoy.

Such a report, if done correctly will highlight where the mistakes were made and make recommendations that will be implemented.    However, there is a need for individuals with competence that will examine what happened with ‘critical eyes’ and not ‘eyes for criticism.’  Tobago as a whole can benefit from this but all too often our judgments are clouded by party politics to the detriment of our overall society.

A significant portion of the population claims that they are excluded stating that their ideas are not welcomed at the table.  If any society intends to develop beyond its current capacity it must fully utilize its human resources, bringing critical minds to the table, to effectively plan and execute something of substance, worth and value.     No single idea is better than an idea that is built upon by others and thoroughly evaluated for faults before execution.

No one should ever question the loyal of Tobagonians to their island whether they reside in Tobago, Trinidad, New York, Miami, London or where ever they choose to live.   Our small population will have political differences but we must never allow this to delay or destroy the development agenda.     Our destinies are so intertwined that we should never allow divisions (not differences) to fester or allow a small group of people to dominate, creating an oligarchy as opposed to a democracy.

Lastly, a word on planning.   Effective planning takes time.  The planning for Carnival 2015 should begin tomorrow after one day of rest.    The Carnival fraternity must also do more and not wait on the THA to make funding moves.   They are ones who should be front and center leading the charge for a season that engages us culturally so a good time can be had by all.

20140305-131244.jpg

Perceptions of Discrimination in Employment Practices in Tobago, (political and otherwise).

While in Tobago I had many conversations with individuals about political victimization.     In all reality it was something that never crossed my mind before, but after these conversations, even if there is the slightest perception of victimization based on one’s political affiliation, it should be addressed.    I will give the context, discuss it comparatively, share a personal story (based on age discrimination), and discuss what should policy entail.

There were many time I sat wanting to write on this topic but I did not have the appropriate context.     A previous post (Labour Policy, in less than 400 words) addressed for the formation of a labour policy for Tobago, an initiative by of Division of Settlements and Labour (DOSAL) led Secretary Deon Isaac.   He hinted towards the creation of a recruitment policy.   If done correctly, such a policy will: “lift the perception ‘party’ patronage jobs and should employ global standards of non-discrimination in the workplace.”

A recent Tobago News article, ILP claims THA workers are being denied their basic civil rights by Theresa Grant-Caton dealt with the issue of political victimization and stated, “The stark reality is that contract employees in Tobago are afraid to publicly identify with any other party than the PNM because of fear based on political victimization” (Quoting, Lionel Coker, ILP Tobago Regional Council Coordinator)

The combination of these two provided the appropriate context to address the perceptions of political victimization in Tobago.

From the beginning of political parties patronage jobs existed.   These jobs or appointments were for loyal party supporters.  Modern day examples of this continue such as the appointment of ambassadors, high-level cabinet positions even within the US government and even judgeships.    In fact, all the Cabinet Secretaries of the Federal Government to a degree are patronage jobs but those who serve have the necessary qualifications and experience to do so.

With our small 1.3 million population compared to the close to 400 million population of the United States, patronage jobs also exists and more than likely ‘in your face’ just given the small scale of the population.   Roughly 60,000 of the 1.3 million population lives with the boundaries of Tobago and with this smaller scale there is a fine and blurry line between the existence of patronage jobs and perceptions of political victimization.        From here on out we will use the term “contract workers” synonymously with “patronage jobs.”

I don’t believe that any politician in Tobago practices blatant discrimination based on political affiliation as individuals.    This is not to say that discrimination does not exist within the institutions of the THA based on knowledge of an individual’s political affiliation.    Institutional discrimination can take many forms and the relative smallness of Tobago makes it possible to know who belongs to what political party.    For example, when hiring decisions are made, knowledge of a person’s political affiliation based on ‘hearsay’ or family association may affect the outcome of that decision even in the most subconscious way.

In the creation of a recruitment policy every possible attempt should be made to eliminate any politically related factors that may affect a hiring decision.   All attempts must be made to ensure that the process of transparent and unbiased.

With respect to current contract workers, all workers, inclusive of public servants must be sensitized to issues of discrimination in the workplace based on political affiliation.    In many circumstances, public servants such as administrators and other senior officials yield a tremendous amount of power and influence in the workplace and their knowledge can possibly lead to discriminatory practices.

Periodic evaluation of job performance for contract workers should be a norm.    Subjective measures must never be used to evaluate employees because this runs the risk of discrimination.    Appearance by all means is an example of a subjective, measure such as looking ‘too young’ as was my case when I interviewed for the position of principal at St. Nicholas Primary School in Tobago in 2012.     Interestingly, I was glad it didn’t work out, because my knowledge of Tobago would have been rather limited to being cooped up in school, but I am almost 99% sure the selected candidate did not have the qualifications in education administration or the diverse experience working in schools and with teachers.   The most they probably had was more years in education and “age” on their side.

Effective recruitment strategies as well as job performance evaluations that determine whether or not a contract worker is rehired must be based on objective measure.    One person should be used never determine these decisions but a hiring and personnel committees are established to ensure that the best candidates are hired.

Over the next few years the Tobago workforce will undergo major transformation.    As older workers retire, greater attention should be placed to competence and qualifications, not necessarily years spent on the job.  This also highlights a current problem of retirees returning as contract workers.     A recruitment policy should also address this concern whereby deeming it a conflict of interest within a certain time (one year) of hiring a recent retiree as a contract worker.

I will continue to address the issue of political victimization on this forum inclusive of other employment related issues.

Continue reading

Labour Policy Brief, (in less than 400 words)

Secretary of Settlements and Labour Councillor Deon Isaac made important policy statements during the 15th plenary session of the Tobago House of Assembly.    Acknowledging that labour policy in Tobago must catch up; Isaac began to make some exemplary connections between housing, poverty, labour and productivity.

He presented during a debate on poverty reduction linking the alignment of goals and benchmarks of the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan 2.0 (Adopted Assembly Policy, 2013-2015) to the goals of the Millennium Development Goals, a United Nation Development Program (UNDP) initiative.

Isaac addressed the importance of human capital development for the development of a Labour Policy for the Tobago House of Assembly.  The outcomes of the initiatives undertaken in this labour drive are aimed at improving productivity on the island.     Among the initiatives are an Industrial Relations Audit, which will produce data to inform policy and decision-making on labour matters.

A recruitment policy for contract workers is another initiative that we can expect Isaac to lead.     As we know, the Tobago House of Assembly provides employment for a substantial portion of the population.    A recruitment policy will lift the perception of ‘party’ patronage jobs and should employ global standards on non-discrimination in the workplace.

The Division of Settlements and Labour is the smallest division of the Tobago House of Assembly.   The Secretary suggested an integrated approach of the Department of Labour and called for it to be “more robust, more visible, and more proactive.”   To support this, widespread Human Resource training will be something that the THA would get the ball rolling on in the upcoming months.    The goal is to get this to filter down and across all Divisions within the THA to promote productivity of the government sector.

A final initiative expressed by Isaac was to bring the salaries of contract workers the across the THA to “symmetry and scale.”   This suggests that workers with similar contractual appointment will be paid on a similar wage as probably opposed that decision being left up the individual Divisions.

With Isaac at the reigns of DOSAL the Department of Labour will come into its own while gaining functionality.  He should continue to work on defining the Department, keep focus on an integrated approach aimed at improving productivity, provide a great deal of public education and make links to the development of a strong private sector.

Culture should be taught, not caught

In 2007 a colleague and I received a grant to study education at the primary and secondary school levels in several Caribbean Islands.  While in Jamaica we visited Edna Manley College and the person we met with shared with us the following, “Culture should be taught, not caught.”  This profound statement have since guided my own research interests because in all reality culture is everywhere but most times it is taken for granted.  

 

In Trinidad and Tobago we are currently in the peak season of one aspect of our culture – Carnival.  While Carnival is a great highlight of our culture there are so many other aspects of our culture that we shun or label taboo because it was not taught to us.

We will use the religion as an example to demonstrate why culture should be taught and not caught.  We must preface conversations about culture against the backdrop of history and the fact that islands likes Trinidad and Tobago, countries like the United States were the meeting places of the different culture whereby groups emerged as ‘dominant’.   This dominancy was based on race and the underpinnings of racism maintained these structures from colonial times onward.

I can vividly recall when I started asking questions about different religions in Trinidad and Tobago.  Given that Tobagonians are predominantly orientated towards Christianity, trips to Trinidad as a child gave me the opportunity to ask questions about Hindus and Muslims.   Are East Indians the only ones allowed to Hindus?   Why were Christians mostly black?   Why were Muslims both Black and East Indian?    Mommy carefully explained to me that I was mixing up race and religion.

In 2006, I became friends with a few people who were converts from Hinduism to Christianity and I was able to ask a few questions because I had no clue about Hinduism.   In 2010, I drove from New York to Florida to attend a Hindu wedding of a friend and it was my first time in Hindu temple.   Taking nothing for granted especially the need not to offend, I read up on etiquette, do’s and don’t but the pundit did an amazing job explaining all the rituals he performed during the ceremony.   In 2012 while in Trinidad at the Port of Spain market, I quickly made friends with a vendor and he invited me to Hindu wedding of his son.  While I was unable to attend it highlighted how friendly Trinibagonians can be even to complete strangers.

Our current Prime Minister the Honorable Kamla Persad-Bissessar has connections to both the Hindu and Spiritual Baptist faiths.   For some, this might be difficult to comprehend.   While I believe this is a personal choice (though I would love to ask her), it is not hard for me to comprehend because I took it on myself to learn about both the Hindu religion (or should I say culture, its more than a religion, its more of a lifestyle) and the Spiritual Baptist faith.    There are many similarities; the lota and the taria are just the beginning.  If we should examine the cosmology of the spectrum Spiritual Baptist faith, ‘India’ (spiritually) is a familiar ground in the discourse among practitioners.

photoTraveling in a car one day while in Tobago the issue of a national day of prayer became center stage of the conversation.   While I mostly listened, I disagreed with those who objected to the national day of prayer because the conversation revolved around the fact that Prime Minister was Hindu and she called a national day of prayer and the questions of the day was “who are we going to pray to?”

Normally I would not engage in conversations because I don’t discuss religion publicly, but it highlighted the fact that though we claim diversity we rarely engage each other on deep cultural levels such as religion.

I thought about the time my grandmother went to down to the Creek for the cremation a business man who made labels for her seasonings and she told us about it when she came back.   But still I ask: how much do we engage each other on these deep cultural levels?

I will take wild guess and assume that East Indians in greater numbers are converting to Christianity than Blacks are converting to Hinduism, if they are.   If you know of any, please let me know.

I deliberately choose the Hindu-Christian dynamic because we don’t know enough about each other religions and I believe that learning about it would dispel some of the assumptions and fears of things we don’t understand.

Religion is a matter of choice and individuals don’t choose to be born into the families they do and it is only natural that they adopt these practices of their parents until they can make a choice to do otherwise.

A few days ago I stumbled across a Facebook photo that I had to share.    It was a photo that depicted a Greek god besides a Yoruba Orisha.   Greeks gods have become a part of the mythology of Western Civilization while the Orisha are depicted as ‘evil’.   In our Trinibago minds we can easily find evidence of this aspect of racism.   Mention the word obeah and see where conversations go.    Often it is associated with Spiritual Baptist faith, the faith that was once illegal to practice in Trinidad and Tobago.

The argument here is Afro-Trinidadians and Tobagonians have lost a significant part of their own heritage because their ancestors were forced to convert to Christianity any religious practices deemed too “African” were labeled as evil, suppressed and declared illegal.    East Indians who came to Trinidad and Tobago under different circumstance though they experienced religious discrimination and while some converted there were periods where the Hindu community experienced a reawakening of Hinduism in Trinidad.

So culture should be taught and not left for chance.    First, it gives us an opportunity to examine our cultural practices and reason and rationale why we do the things we do.    Second, when culture is not left to chance our understandings of the cultural practices of others can be viewed equally with our own and not superior or inferior to others.   Lastly, when culture is taught and not left for chance we would not speculate and label the practices of others as evil but instead we can find similarities and engage each other from the vantage point of I don’t know, make me aware, without attempts to put down or even convert.

The Cow Jumped Over the Moon: Lessons on Democracy and Devlopment or Nursery Lies

Note:  A version of this article appeared in the Tobago News on April 14th, by the same author titled: Addressing Human Capacity.    The article was slightly updated.  The author is a freelance writer, journalist, and former Assistant Editor of the Tobago News.

Democracy and development are two powerful concepts that cannot be separated; however, gaps often occur which leads to stagnation. The most important linkage between democracy and development is education.     In a developing island like Tobago, the democracy that emerges will be authentic given our unique culture, but the principles of democracy worldwide are the same.    Without a historical lesson on democracy that will take us back to Ancient Greece, or early America in a more modern context, whether it was Plato in Greece, or Thomas Jefferson in America these minds understood the importance of education to support democratic ideals and institutions.

With that said we must now turn our attention to the human capacity required to drive development and support democracy.    In this 21st century our education system at every level must be scrutinized because it is a gateway for access, aimed at preparing every citizen to contribute to the development of the country.    And mind you there are many brilliant minds across the island of Tobago, but to a degree we are not mining these minds and ultimately our human capacity is severely reduced.

During one of the face-to-face with the THA in Charlotteville, this concept was evident by the concerns raised by one parent who spoke about the need for trained teachers to for early childhood education.   Later on came the confession of Dr. Duke who spoke about the human resource challenge at the hospital.  People were moved to tears when one man who spoke about the passing of his wife due to an aneurysm, the human resource challenge on the island, in fact the nation should have been declared a state of emergency.    (In a timely update, close friend and teacher on the island suffered from an aneurysm last November and nothing could be done to help her, neither in Tobago or Trinidad. Fortunately, she was able to seek treatment and brain surgery in the United States. She is lucky to be alive.)

brain

Many of us are familiar with the concept of “brain drain,” and while it is true that many people leave to further their education, we need to closely examine this concept.  Perhaps, it is not brain drain, because all brains are created equally.   Maybe it is what we pour into our brains that account for where the deficits begin.   Case in point, if children as young as five and six are using cell phones and iPads, it is insulting to their educational capacity by lying to them and teaching them about cows jumping over moons.   Mind you, we are not against nursery rhymes, but as one parent said, he would not want his child to be lied to.     So for starters, our brains are filled with lies from the very beginning, and that brain drain concept is almost a lie, if not a total lie, because the humans are present and the capacity is limited.

Furthermore from observation there is a pervasive class system within our educational system in Tobago if not totally discriminatory based on geographic location.   We must simply as a few questions to find the evidence of this.   First, Which school is our best school? Where is our best school?   Who has access to this school?  If we can answer these questions with a resounding “all our students island wide have access to the best schools and the best teachers, irrespective of their geographic location,” then there would be no point of this article.

We do understand the challenges Tobago face and it must be addressed on all fronts but we must also understand that democracy is an experiment; you have to try new things.  If we are experimenting, we must find solutions and strategies that work.