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Friday 6 December 2019
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Reginald Dumas
Reginald Dumas

REGINALD DUMAS

I MAKE NO comment whatsoever on the quotations I have set out below.

1. “The chief purpose [of schools and mandirs established by the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha] was to bring a western-type education via the national school curriculum to our community that was more than 65 per cent illiterate. And to anchor our people in our ancient Hindu traditions was a prime purpose of [the Maha Sabha’s] creation.” (Satnarayan Maharaj, TT Guardian, September 29, 2018)

2. “If I were to identify the most significant achievement of people of East Indian descent, I would say that it is in the education of their generations. East Indians came to appreciate more than anything else the importance of a well-educated child, and would have been emboldened by the experience of indentureship and the difficulties they had seen in climbing the social and economic ladder of liberating themselves from poverty without being educated.” (Suruj Rambachan, Express, June 30, 2019)

3. “(W)hy have blacks so significantly fallen behind in education? My parents’ generation drummed into our heads that education was the way to success; their parents had done the same with them. Gypsy sang about the little black boy more than 20 years ago; before him, Sparrow had urged the centrality of education.

“They have both been ignored: I now read a 2016 report that of 78 primary schools throughout the country on academic watch, 48 are in Port of Spain and St George East, and six in Tobago. Who in general comprises the student bodies at those schools? What has happened? And if that’s what is taking place at the primary level, what of beyond?” (Reginald Dumas, Newsday, August 5, 2019)

4. “As to the scholarships this year, Sat’s pride and joy Lakshmi Girls’ got 40, but Tobago across all schools got a total of two.” (Theodore Lewis, Sunday Express, November 24, 2019)

5. “In February 2016, the Minister of Education announced a National Consultation on Education which would ‘build an education system that (would) be the envy of all.’ And Newsday of January 12 this year quotes him as saying that his ministry has been ‘able to, over the past three years,…shift our focus to prioritising literacy, numeracy and penmanship for all our school-age children…’

“I see. But in an article nearly four years ago I quoted a commentator saying that Finland, one of the world’s leading countries in education, was ‘prioritising the four Cs – communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration – (and) progressively building the kind of future workforce the country needs…’ Being able to write nicely and count correctly is good. But being able to think analytically and communicate effectively is crucial. Then you can start on the long road to being ‘the envy of all.’” (Reginald Dumas, Newsday, July 15, 2019)

6. “(T)he phrase [‘black and ugly’] is mostly used by our own race to bring down each other…People need to be comfortable in their skin and this even applies to how we wear our hair. I have my son wearing his afro and there are people who want me to cut it because they believe that certain schools will not take him because of it…So if I grow my son’s hair and put it in cane rows why should that be a problem?...(W)e have been brainwashed for so much years that you don’t know you are brainwashed already, that you think your free choice is your free choice.” (Terri Lyons, Guardian, March 5, 2017).

7. “And let me be perfectly blunt: we blacks spend too much time and effort blaming one another and others for our deterioration. Particular condescension is reserved for those of Indian origin (who reciprocate the sentiment); they are held to be all untrustworthy and thieving.

“Blacks are, I suppose, all honourable. But while we sneer and grumble, the others have been climbing above us.

“What are blacks doing to stop our decline and lift ourselves? When will we understand that we have primary responsibility for our condition, and that we must shoulder that responsibility and not leave everything to God, CEPEP and a Glock .45? Or fall back on the easy faux-historical excuse of ‘the legacy of slavery,’ without a clue – since we know virtually nothing of our history – about what that legacy really is?” (Reginald Dumas, Newsday, August 5, 2019).

8. “Black man, take a page from Sat/ Be proud and promote your own history/ Doh care if it cause controversy/ Make education a priority/ Opportunities for your pickney/ Black man, take a page from Sat/ Strengthen your institutions/ Like your credit union and religion/ And when they ask you what unity is dat/ You tell dem you takin’ a page from Sat.” (Calypsonian Brother Hamidullah, 2002)

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