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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.

Editor’s note:This article was written by Edward Lawrence and published in the Oct 3rd,08 issue of the Chronicle Newspaper.

It is Indeed opportune to establish a reasonable pace in the race towards social and economic advancement.

Our journey to join the rest of the developed world must involve the total commitment of our resources, both human and material. If not, we may take decades to do so, or in a worst-case scenario, we may never get there.

It is senseless, for example, to clamour for the opportunity to be an integral part of the movement towards regional unity and our people are not in a position to reap maximum benefit. Through education and training, our people will be well placed to take advantage of any actual and potential opportunities that emerge from our alignment to significant groups or territories.

Only the possession of tremendous wisdom on the part of small nations’ leaders can guarantee the elevation in the quality of the human resource. We all may be tempted to assume that contemporary politicians in administrative, decision-making positions not only recognise the obvious, but also do the obvious, that is, spend more on the education of persons. The emphasis must be on people-centred development, this is genuine development.

Every country needs to attain the highest level of infrastructural development that is permissible under prevailing circumstances. The demands of modern industry and communication must be satisfied. A substantial part of the effort should include the provision of facilities which make trade and commerce easier.These facilities are desirable and worthy of relentless pursuit, however, of greater importance is the attempt to sharpen the skills of nationals. This is what we ought to concern ourselves with here. Infra-structural development is an evitable consequence of human resource development, hence, the emphasis must be on personal advancement of individuals.

As the century rapidly progresses, the thrust towards the education of the masses must be intensified. The absence of mineral resource should compel those in authority to look in the right direction. It is customary for the leaders of a country to formulate policies that will facilitate economic and social development. Chief among them would be the establishment of a priority list that is consistent with the needs of the country. Needless to say, this list must be set up after intense thought and consultation. This is absolutely necessary because it is becoming even more apparent that the race for sustainable development will assume greater importance as other territories jostle for positions of economic and political prominence.

Like many other nations in the developing world, our economic survival depends, for the most part, on our ability to sharpen the skills of our people and to motivate them in a manner that will increase their self-worth. Having equipped our people for survival and the world of work, they must be presented with the opportunities for them to contribute to the advancement of their country. This is of vital importance since there is the implicit assumption that those who succeed at school will be absorbed in the job market.

Our small island is confronted with the enormous task of managing its scarce resources amidst the need to educate its people up to the tertiary level and beyond. The aim should be to create multi-faceted and multi-talented people. There will always be the need for the specialists but we must seek to increase the number of people who can adapt to changing global conditions. Economic and social trends will change, there is no doubt about that! Flexibility and the ability to shift emphasis from one productive area to the next will be the key to the attainment of economic stability.

Because financial resources are scarce, there must be the attempt to seek assistance from friendly nations. Experience would have taught us that nations do not remain friendly forever. As such, there is the need to broaden our circle of friends in the inter¬national community. This, however, should be done with skill and much fore¬sight. Also, out own efforts must be planned and provisions should be made for unforeseen circumstances We must never put all eggs in one basket, This is becoming more apparent as we intensify our thrust towards tourism, example.

It will certainly be to our disadvantage if we compromise our sovereignty and allow ourselves to be dictated to by powerful nations. For the most part, some oi our traditional well-wishers have diverted both their sympathy and funds to other parts of the world. This should, in fact, inspire our leaders and others oi good repute to recognise the efforts of those who have our interests at heart and create the ambience for further discourse. Our leaders must be careful too, that they do not allow themselves to be drawn into diplomatic or political disputes involving nations who have their own axe to grind.

Our collective pursuit of excellence will be hampered by the lack of foresight on the part of leaders who fail to appreciate the fact that greater budgetary allocations must be made for education. Education here does not necessarily involve the formal setting in the classroom. The process has to continue, involving the community and its resources, both human and material. Under ideal conditions, our school would have the capacity to conduct many activities with the potential to impact, not only students under their care but the community at large.

However, since these schools are unable to do so, they ought to work collaboratively with community partners. Such a symbiotic relationship can only augur well for the development of our people.The process of educating nationals will never be completed, however, as individuals acquire skills and expertise they must be utilized in the most efficient manner regardless of their social status or political affiliation.

We must appreciate the value of the physical infrastructure. However, there must be similar concern for the development of the human mind. The capacity to engage in independent thought and to discuss issues critical to national advancement must forever be fostered. This can only happen if the facilities are put in place. Of course, there must be the will to do so. In the rural areas, the village councils or village improvement committees must get to work sooner rather than later and engage villagers in discussions or other sessions where they are given the opportunity to do some critical thinking about issues affecting them and to look at objective ways of solving them. The goal would be to develop their creative and problem-solving skills.

It is indeed the opportune time to question politicians on their strategies to realise people-centred development. They need to be held, to a certain extent, for the ignorance and lack of intellectual development of the people in their constituencies. Their level of seriousness about the issue should speak volumes about their suitability for positions of leadership. It would appear that the issue of people-centred development will be debated well into the future. This may be necessary until such time that something meaningful and far-reaching is done about it.

Those in public office, who assumed these positions based on the promises that were made during election campaigns, should be made to honor these promises and eventually, held accountable for the lack of development of these people. Programmes must be tailored to achieve consistency with their aptitudes and inclinations with the result that the people can find employment to take care of their basic needs. In the absence of this, there will be nothing short of a waste of resources since a significant proportion of them will fall through the cracks created by short-sighted mercenaries who feast on the ignorance of people.

A perpetual challenge of this country is the fashioning of the collective will in a manner which brings benefits. It will take more than “flag days” and recitations of the national pledge and majestic declarations to instill patriotism in our people.

Certainly, there is a need for individuals to feel that their efforts are valued and rewards are delivered accordingly. Meritocracy, the principle of just rewards and equity arc valuable starting points from which our efforts at unity should begin. Collectively, it is easier to reap maximum rewards.

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Sometime ago, my friend and fellow blogger Dan Tanner shared his thoughts on the education system here in Dominica. While his thoughts were unique and were directed more towards how women – not get the same rights and opportunities as men in Dominica.

One thing I’ve learn about the whole education system here in Dominica, and in most Caribbean countries – that our school system (in general) is not giving kids the basic reading, writing, arithmetic and science skills needed to be competitive in the high-tech world out there (at least, that’s my general assumption, and let’s not argue it here).

Many kids enter primary and secondary schools were they’re taught these basic subjects, but we all know that there is much more to life that those basic subjects and unless you have an exceptional (thinking outside the box) teacher who is willing to break out of the mold, your child isn’t learning the crucial things he or she needs to learn in life. It’s a whole new ball game whenever you step out in the real world as an adult and if you’re not equipped, then you’re going to be left behind.

Think about your own personal experience for a moment. When you got out of high school, did you know everything you needed in order to survive in life, let alone succeed? If you were lucky, you knew how to read and had some basic history and math skills, and if you were even luckier, you had good study habits that would serve you well in college.

Most likely you were not prepared for life, unless you had parent who did you that favor. It’s a fact, many of us screwed up our early adult lives because we didn’t know those necessary skills – and we’re paying the consequences now.

That’s a part of life, you might say, learning these lessons. But it’s also possible to prepare your child a bit before they go out on their own, and if we can’t get the schools to teach these skills, then you should do it ourselves.

The following is a basic curriculum in life that a child should know before reaching adulthood. Probably there are many other skills you can add to this list, but at least it’s a starting point.

Also please note – that these subjects should not be taught by lectures or textbooks. They can only be taught by setting examples, by everyday conversations, by showing, and allowing the child (or teenage) to experience these things on their own (with you supervision at first). Once you’ve walked them through the skill a few times under your supervision, give you child the trust t it on his/her own and to let them learn from their own mistakes. Just be sure to check back every now and then.


  • Saving. Don’t spend more than what you earn, so simple and yet very few young adults understand it or know how to follow. Teach your child from a early age to put part of money he/she receives or earns in the bank. Teach them how to set a savings goal.

  • Credit. For many adults this is a major problem. Teach them how to avoid it when it’s not necessary, and how to avoid getting into too much debt, and how to use a credit card responsibly.

  • Retirement. It’s important to start investing in retirement when you’re young and should be aware of the different options available. Also know the pros and cons of each, and how to do each.

Thinking skills

  • Reading. Sure, kids are taught to read (well most of them), but school often make reading boring. Show your child the wonderful imaginative worlds there are out there. And show them how to find out about stuff in the world through the Internet, and how to evaluate what they read for credibility, and logic.

  • Critical Thinking. Nowadays, we are taught to be robots, to listen to the teacher and not to question, to accept what we are told and not to think, to be good employees and to shut up. Critical thinking is one of the most important skills not taught in school.


  • Motivation. Teach your child that discipline isn’t the key to achieving a goal, but its motivation and passion. Show them how great it feels to achieve a goal. Start them with small, easily achievable goals, and let them develop this skill.

  • Procrastination. It’s a problem we all deal with as adults (and even as kids). Now, I believe that there should be a time for goofing off, being lazy, and having fun. But when there’s something to do that we really need to do, how do we get ourselves to do it? Learn the reasons behind procrastination, and how to address them. How to beat procrastination?


  • Cleaning. Nowadays too many adults grow up without knowing how to do laundry, to clean a house properly and keeping it clean. Develop a weekly and monthly cleaning routine. Teach your child all these things instead of just telling her what to do.

  • Organization. How to keep things organized and in their place; to keep a to-do list, how to set routines, how to focus on the important tasks.


  • Enjoy life. Kids don’t have much of a problem with this, but some awareness of its importance and how to do it, even as an adult would be helpful. Set a good example of this, and your kids will follow.

  • Find purpose. Teach your children the importance of this and show how to do it yourself. Whether the purpose is making your family happy or the purpose of finding your calling, having a purpose in life is extremely important.

Do you have any skills to add to this list? Let us hear them in the comments.

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