Submitted by David Comissiong, Barbados Citizen
The Sunday Sun newspaper has reported that Minister of Sport, Youth and Culture, Stephen Lashley, recently addressed a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) gathering on the topic of “50 Years of Independence: The Barbados Story“, and informed the DLP faithful that Barbados Scholars should NOT be required to return and work in Barbados, but should instead be facilitated to work in foreign countries and to send back “remittances” to Barbados.
Well, with all due respect to Mr Lashley– one of the more thoughtful and forward thinking Ministers of the DLP Administration— I totally disagree with this sentiment and with the philosophy on which it is based!
Barbados is a relatively young, economically under-developed country, with very limited NATURAL resources. Thus, our nation’s fundamental developmental strategy must be one that is firmly based on the cultural and educational attainments and assets of the people of Barbados, and on our people’s capacity to evince energy, initiative, creativity, drive and a spirit of self-reliance in the development of their own country.
In other words, if we are serious about developing our country then we should be able to understand that the primary architects and builders of the economy of Barbados MUST be the Barbadian people themselves, and in particular the brilliant, young, highly educated and trained scholars of our nation.
It is an undeniable fact that virtually every single progressive nation on this earth not only seeks to hold on to its most brilliant and highly educated young people, but even go beyond this and seek to entice to their shores the brilliant and highly educated young people of other nations!
Take the little east Asian nation of Singapore as an example. The Government of Singapore actually gives Singapore Government scholarships to brilliant foreign students in order that they might receive their university education in Singapore and be persuaded to settle permanently in Singapore! And the same holds true for larger countries such as Canada and the United States of America.
So, why then should our nation pursue a strategy in which Barbadian citizens and taxpayers– at great expense and sacrifice to themselves— finance the university education of our country’s most brilliant young sons and daughters, and then send them off to use their skills to contribute to and develop the Canadas, USAs and Singapores of this world?
If, after 50 years of supposed “Independence” we still have not learnt that we— and in particular our talented and educated young sons and daughters– have to consciously and passionately assume the role of being the primary craftsmen of our own national fate, then we are well and truly lost as a nation.
No, Brother Lashley, we don’t want the brightest of our young people working in and developing some-body else’s country and merely sending “remittances” to their Barbados-based family members! Rather, we want them right here with us in Barbados, making their contribution to the further positive evolution of our national culture, and utilizing their intelligence, education and talent in the development of our economy and other social, political and cultural structures.
By all means let us permit them to remain outside for an appropriate period of time in their pursuit of knowledge and new experiences and insights, but let us fundamentally understand that there is no quantity of remittances that can compensate for the loss to the nation of the direct intellectual and cultural input of its brightest and most highly educated sons and daughters.
And finally, I need to make the following point to Minister Lashley and to all the other Ministers of our Barbados Government :- it is your job and DUTY as Ministers of Government to put the relevant policies and mechanisms in place to facilitate and foster the active involvement of our very own educated and trained youth in all aspects of our national development effort. And if you don’t understand this, then you have missed the whole point of and reason for being a Minister of Government!