THE EDITOR: I write in response to the “Statement on education of children of African origin” published in the three daily newspapers recently in TT.
The two-part statement is about 2,300 words long. It does not state who is the author but has the names of 23 well-known largely Afro-Trinidadian “endorsers” such as Dr Euric Bobb, Reginald Dumas, Dr Ralph Henry, Dr Vanus James, Dr Winford James, Prof Theodore Lewis, Prof James Millette, Aiyegoro Ome, Kelvin Scoon and Eintou Springer.
It is a surprise that vocal Africanists Prof Selwyn Cudjoe and David Mohammed are absent from this black team of educators. Zena Ramatali has been thrown in as a token Indo-Trinidadian to add colour, I guess.
Is the mysterious author of the article Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley? His name does not only appear in the first paragraph of the statement, but also as the instigator of this inquiry. The first paragraph reads: “During the Emancipation Day celebrations last year, the Prime Minister conceded that people of African descent has fallen behind in the society.”
Who are the successful “others?”
The thesis of the statement is based on the assumption that black children have not been performing well in schools as “others.” I say “assumption” because no data (statistics) have been provided by the 23 endorsers on how bad these children are performing and behaving compared to others. Is it marginally or significantly? How are black children under-performing in rural schools? In Tobago also? The statement does not say.
With no empirical data to support their claim that black children are not treated equally, what does this statement say about these black professionals? If these endorsers are the best and brightest intellectuals in the Afro-Trinidadian community, then God help this nation.
The endorsers do not also reveal the identity of the “others.” However, based on the demographics of the society, we assume that the “others” are mainly children of East Indian origin.
Is the black agenda of these 23 endorsers to abolish denominational education with the objective of destroying Indian success in the Hindu, Muslim and Presbyterian schools? They should learn that the problem is not the success of Indian children but with black “national” culture and mores. Why are Afro-children not achieving in other denominational schools run by Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists and Adventists where the majority of children are blacks?
I would like the unknown author or agency, who commissioned the team, to also do a study on the “others” in the education system, particularly on Indian children. It should be similarly entitled “Statement on education of children of Indian origin.”
Afro-PNM Government failed black children
These are the questions that should be addressed:
(1) Are Indian and non-black children the main target and victims of bullying in schools?
(2) Are these children “taxed” for money when they are arrested, pushed and kidnapped in the toilets?
(3) Is their hair pulled when they are frisked, terrorised and tormented by bullies?
(4) Are Indian children and Indian teachers shown gross and greater disrespect by Afro-children?
(5) Are Indian children tormented and heckled more during election campaigns because they are perceived as United National Congress (UNC) supporters?
(6) Are black children instigated to behave badly towards Indian children and teachers by talk show hosts, racial calypso and by their politically-passionate parents?
The team of endorsers should admit that it is the Afro-led People’s National Movement (PNM) that has failed black children in education for the 48 years that it has been in Government. The PNM governed for 48 out of 64 years (75%). In the 1956 general election, the PNM was able to make political manoeuvres to get a clear majority in the legislative council with Dr Eric Williams being elected as the Chief Minister.
From 1956, the PNM has been suffocating the aspirations of black children to become dependent on free, subsidised or easy access to government jobs (eg Cepep, security forces, public service), houses (eg HDC), scholarships (re: Yuille-Williams), etc.
Carnival destroying black children
The team of endorsers should also be honest to themselves to admit that Carnival has also disrupted the education of these children. As the single, largest festival for blacks to frolic freely, Carnival has done tremendous damage to the morality and psyche of black children with its urging to wine, wine, wine, jam, jam, jam, jook, jook, jook on the bumper.
With its public nudity and sexuality, Carnival culture is destroying black children. As Sat Maharaj used to say, while Indian children beating book for Carnival in February, others beating pan just before the Secondary Entrance Assessment exam in March and April every year. Please take note, Education Minister Anthony Garcia.
A similar study has to be done on Indian children and adults who have “fallen behind in society.” Or are Indians a jolly people who are not “lagging” behind in any sector of the society and are being treated fairly under Rowley, an Afro-Tobagonian Prime Minister?
If Indians are performing better in education, why are they not the majority among school principals, deans, heads of department, administrators and the majority lecturers and professors at UWI and UTT, as well as permanent secretaries and directors in the public service and security forces?
Based on the report, shouldn’t Indians also be running the country if they are more educated?