‘Still under’ colonial system
ENOUGH HAS NOT been done since Independence Day for Barbados to truly call itself independent, says president of the Clement Payne Movement, David Comissiong.
Speaking on Saturday during the Pan-African Coalition of Organisations fifth monthly University of Independence Square initiative in The City, Comissiong said there was ample evidence the old colonial system was still in effect.
“We are still under the old colonial system where the average black man was a worker and his or her place was not to participate in business ownership or to own significant pieces of land, characterised by a Westminster form of governance – usually a two-party system which divided the people and confined their participation to the five minutes in an election booth once every five years.”
He said while Independence sparked some “good things”, Barbados was still plagued with an economy too dependent on tourism, drawing a comparison to Singapore.
“In Singapore, they understood tourism was a stopgap measure as the future had to be built on industrial development, but we in Barbados made the fatal error of not focusing on industrial development and it has come back to haunt us. Westminster still choking we.”
The attorney-at-law added that the people of Barbados had been reduced to “hailers of either the Barbados Labour Party or the Democratic Labour Party” without being able to make a meaningful contribution to politics, stressing there was no reason critical issues could not go to national referendum.
Also speaking was political science student Cheryl Moore, who said the decision to introduce fees at the University of the West Indies (UWI) was helping to create an elitist society, something which she said was already being propagated at the secondary school level.
“You have the argument that all schools teach the same curriculum and on the surface this is true . . . but at fourth form the students are guided into particular professions [according to the school] and a problem arises when only a few people can make it into these schools due to the challenges of poverty.
“We have to admit the chances are greater for those who come from the older secondary schools, who come from the middle and upper classes, to have a better opportunity to have a profession and not just a job, and be extremely successful large-scale entrepreneurs, sit on boards, head organisations and the like,” she said.
Moore said this was equalised at the tertiary level with institutions such as UWI, but the new fee policy there was threatening to make it just as elitist as the secondary level.
“This new policy is already defective. The educational system in Barbados is now under threat but will continue to be satisfactory to the majority of the elite, very few of whom actually continue their education in Barbados anyway.
“How could an educated society allow an inept Government to return for a second time in office? How could such an educated society not demand better governance, and how could such an educated society allow a policy like free education to be eradicated?” Moore asked.
The event included entertainment from the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Chorale, artistes Ab-Anes-Ib, Charles Odell and Lion Soul, as well as contributions from Kinaya Barashango and parliamentarian Trevor Prescod under the theme Let’s Get Barbados Back On Track. Comissiong said the purpose of the event was to use the public space to engage in serious discussions on the crisis Barbados was facing. (CA)