In Search of Vincentianism

By Tricia Reddock

Opinion: It is possible to look at the recent elections that ushered in an historic, 5th consecutive term for Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party, from several different angles and perspectives.
As I observed the elections unfold, it struck me that Vincentians tend to vote for party and/or
personality as opposed to the social and political issues that affect everyday life.

I suspect this is due to lack of information and education about the electoral process, Vincentian history and current events, as well as the prevalence of a deeply partisan political tribalism. This phenomenon has a negative impact on the entire democratic process. For this reason, I will focus my attention on deconstructing the concept of the education revolution. It was a central theme in the list of accomplishments ULP touted to make their case to the electorate that they ought to be given the mandate to govern for the next five years.

The nation has, for all practical purposes, achieved the goal of at least one university graduate
in each Vincentian household. Over the past 20 years, the ULP administration has increased the number of annual full ride, national scholarships to tertiary level educational institutions all across the globe, from less than ten, to about 50 this year. In addition, hundreds more receive tuition assistance.

We proudly send our young people to Caribbean, North American, European, and Asian
institutions to achieve post secondary and graduate degrees in various disciplines.
I would like to advance this idea: We do ourselves an injustice when we think that sending
students to foreign lands for a tertiary degree is the education revolution in its entirety. That
simply does not go far enough. It is incomplete because we’ve neglected to do our own
homework as a nation. We failed to ground them in Vincentianism, or to define what that means.
These young adults have not had the benefit of a thorough education in the history and culture
of their own country over the course of their academic career up to secondary school.
We graduate students from secondary schools who are taught social studies designed to
prepare them for the regional CXC examinations.

There ought to be a mandatory dedicated course on civics, history and culture, solely focused on developing and defining a uniquely Vincentian national identity, starting from the first year of primary school all the way up through secondary school graduation. This will set the foundation for a holistic education revolution. Implementing this plan will achieve these four objectives:

  1. It will establish a shared national identity.
  2. It will yield citizens who are thoroughly versed in the constitution, laws and electoral
    process in St. Vincent.
  3. It will instill national pride.
  4. It will foster more cooperation among citizens who will understand the shared
    responsibility of nation building, while decreasing division and tribalism.

At the same time, it will be important to also work from the top down to include the adults. To
this end, I propose the government conduct civics, history and culture education via mass
Replace the politically partisan, often divisive chatter on the radio, with educational
programming, including TV and the internet.
Instead of constant, noisy and chaotic political chatter, why can’t we offer substantive
information on a regular basis? Educational shows that discuss our history, culture, laws, and
the current activities of government, using various genres such as: news/talk show formats, televised plays, sitcoms, game shows, or any other form of visual creative expression to convey information while engaging the viewer.

Each media outlet can set aside airtime dedicated to the enlightenment and education of
ordinary citizens.
I believe that this holistic approach will round out and complement the existing version of our
education revolution.
Within 15 years of implementation, the nation will gain an informed electorate able to
intelligently engage in substantive public discourse, who together can achieve unity of purpose,
while simultaneously developing citizens capable of cooperative nation building.

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