By Robertson S. Henry
This question is asked because of the number of Vincentians who have been assisted either personally by Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, or through the use of his office as Prime Minister.
Prior to March 2001 when the Unity Labour Party was voted into office, there were many primary school students who were unable to secure a seat at a secondary school, because there were insufficient secondary school places! This was despite the very good academic performances by many students at what was then the Common Entrance Examination. Added were the limited number of places at the Community College, and there were instances where, despite securing a place at the College, some students were unable to attend because the economic situation of their parents prevented such.
The government of the day had no programme, and or policy in place to assist economically disadvantaged students, even when millions of dollars flowed into the country from the sale of bananas. Then there were the island scholarships scheme which were made available to children of either NDP ministers and or senators, the NDP party faithful, or big financial supporters of the NDP party. Despite the demand dictated by the number of graduates coming out of the community college, the number of available scholarships numbered about two, and only increased to three and or four, to accommodate the child of the afore-mentioned candidates who would have placed third or fourth. It was a shameful practice which left many a young man or woman out in the cold without being given the opportunity to further their education because of the political affiliation of their parents, or societal status.
It further robbed St. Vincent and the Grenadines of a national with immense potential for productivity. However, even more shameful is the attitude of many graduates who upon returning to St. Vincent and the Grenadines upon completing their studies, become anti-Ralph practitioners, or haters of the Unity Labour Party Government, which made it possible for them to secure a scholarship to study in a foreign country.
However, this attitude of ingratitude really hit home, when a young man said: “I have not seen any policy which can convince me to vote.” When pressed on the issue, he repeated the statement. However he was able to attend a secondary school, the community college, and was secured a scholarship to further his education and study in a field of his choosing; all made possible by virtue of the education revolution initiated by the Unity Labour Party government, led by Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. He returned and is employed by the government, yet is full of ingratitude. While he might not be paid in full for the work he is qualified to do, there are many persons who are performing tasks for which they are not being paid, or receiving full remuneration.
Those persons are continuing to build upon the foundation laid, so coming generations will further benefit from the many social programmes implemented by the ULP government. Other graduates have become mouth pieces in disguise for the opposition, an opposition party which never saw it fitting to institute programmes and policies which would have armed young Vincentian men and women with the skill sets to further their development. These returning graduates also engage in a practice of negativity, which seeks to discourage many young people from accessing the opportunities and subsequent benefits of the education revolution.
Instead of using the skill sets afforded them through the education revolution, those ungrateful graduates now embark on a journey to tear down the walls of a institution built through the blood, sweat, tears, and in a number of cases, sacrifices of life in order to lay down the foundation upon which many now enjoy numerous liberties. It is the many sacrifices by the children of the 70s which made possible the many social programmes which benefit many. It is the refusal to accept the status quo by men like Tim Hector of Antigua and Barbuda, Rosie Douglas of Dominica, Maurice Bishop of Grenada, George Odlum of Saint Lucia, and Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines that paved the way for the upliftment of the people social consciousness. Additionally, there are many men and women who have gone on to meet their Maker.
There are those who although still alive, are shunned by many in society for what they stood for in the past. They are seen by many as a reminder of their shameful refusal to stand with them when the occasion warranted total unity against the policies of imperialism and colonialism. But today as many enjoy the fruits of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who initiated the social revolution in the 1970s, the ingratitude shown towards the last remaining leader of this revolution, is a most shameful thing to bear. The ingratitude shown towards Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is a poison the soul of the nation can do without, as St. Vincent and the Grenadines strive towards lifting itself higher, seeking to soar higher on the feathers of the many social polices and programmes instituted by the Unity Labour Party government.