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Gonsalves: History is vital to the region

Carlos Atwell

Gonsalves: History is vital to the region
Prime Minister of St Vincent & the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves - FP

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History and the knowledge of it is vital, says Prime Minister of St Vincent Dr Ralph Gonsalves, or else the region will be adrift.

Gonsalves, giving the keynote address – The Importance of History to Regional Integration and Development – during the virtual Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) inaugural Ministerial Summit earlier Tuesday, said history was regarded as a subject for lesser intellectual mortals but was in fact vital for the region to understand how alienated it had become from itself.

“As former colonies we need to know our history but it seems it is the cosmopolitan countries which have shaped us yet still misunderstand us who emphasise history and a lot of us go along with the idea that history is . . . bunk. The frequent mention of history invites derision, even from those who ought to know better,” he said.

Gonsalves said history went hand in hand with sustainability and regional development and he was a supporter of the mandatory teaching of the right type of history in schools, but because so little of it was being taught, many students and teachers as well, were likely ignorant of the identity and importance of regional heroes.

“This is an indictment of our education system and perhaps of CXC itself and this is why it is so critical this discussion has arisen at this particular point in time,” he said.

The Vincentian leader said the region now had to redefine itself and look at itself with greater confidence. He said the history of the region was in its totality and those who had to teach it had to have “genuinely finished minds” or they would just be chroniclers.

Gonsalves also paid tribute to the late Sir James Mitchell, a former Prime Minister of St transition to a republic.

The summit also featured CXC chairman Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, registrar and chief executive officer Dr Wayne Wesley as well as CARICOM secretary general Dr Carla Barnett. (CA)