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Education: The dumbing down of a nation


Published: Sep 16, 2017

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Dear Editor,

We have known for more than a decade that our educational system and physical plants are in a total and abject mess. Under successive administrations they have gone from bad to worse, if that were possible.

All of the so-called modern ministers of education have lamented the state of affairs, wrung their hands and shed alligator-sized fake tears. Why do I state this without fear of contradiction?

Apart from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health is allocated the biggest chunk of the annual budget. In neither case, I submit, are we receiving value for money. Successive ministers in education, with the exception of the late Carlton E. Francis and now, Jeffrey Lloyd (FNM-South Beach), were not trained educators and may have not been as motivated as they could have been if they were. In the days of Francis, we were still, relatively speaking, “a sleepy nation” with a much smaller student population and less of the societal and cultural stress which we are witnessing, live and in full color, today.

It is a serious indictment on former Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald, who was humiliated like so many of his colleagues during the May general election, that tens of millions of dollars were expended on a Seventh-day Adventist facility up on Wulff Road without, apparently, transparency.

Education of the masses has always been seen, in my view, as a laboratory where the powers that be, aided and abetted by educational gurus and snake oil salesmen (we all know who they are), experiment with grades A straight down to D, with no appreciable improvement, ever. In the mean time, hundreds of dollars are literally placed in the hands of men and women who never could make a decent living in the private sector. The dumbing down of our educational system and by extension our trusting, if rude children, are going to be fatal from a national, economic and personal development point.

Yes, some say that Jeff Lloyd is ideal to lead the Ministry of Education. He is a good man, no doubt, but, is he up to the task or is it all just hype? I came to know Jeff a decade or so ago when he requested my assistance with his then talk radio show “Real Talk Live” hosted on More 94.9 FM. He wanted to study law at The Eugene Dupuch Law School. Of course, I agreed. He’s now been admitted to the Bar, elected to the House of Assembly and appointed to Cabinet. Has he ever called me to simply say thanks for my assistance, encouragement and input? Not yet, and I will not hold my breath waiting for such a call or simple courtesy. No love loss and none expected.

The FNM campaigned on one slogan: “It’s the people them time.” This is an empty slogan and was designed and crafted to pull the proverbial wool over the eyes of the unwashed masses. Yes, the vast majority of us were fed up with the now defunct Christie administration. It has now been four months since Dr. Hubert Minnis and crew came into office. The majority of the public schools in New Providence are in a terrible state of disrepair, especially Claridge Road Primary School, just around the corner from Marathon Estates, which the good minister of education lives in or used to live in. A disgrace, minister, of no small proportions.

Lloyd, in another incarnation, also headed admirably YEAST, a then social intervention program sponsored by the Catholic Board of Education. He did wonders with that program, but is he able and capable of duplicating his success with the national educational grid and physical structure? I do not think so, and Minnis will rue the day, I submit, when he placed individuals, who appear to be so full of it in Cabinet posts to which they might not be in possession of the appropriate temperament, discernment and vision which might be suited for a particular office.

When Parliament convenes, I’d like to see a complete list of all of the educational contracts awarded since Lloyd has been appointed minister of education with a complete fiscal breakdown and line itemized. Many of the same contractors who were granted nebulous contracts by Fitzgerald and his crew have been awarded contracts by Lloyd and his people.

Our educational system is beyond the pale. Unless and until technocrats actually manage the entire system, except for setting public policies, only God will be able to bring rationalization and lucidity to this unwieldly beast called education. Jeffrey, with all due respect, like myself is a serious student and teacher of the metaphysical. We are, indeed, divine illuminators but there are some of our craft who, alas, have gone rouge.

The dumbing down of The Bahamas started way back in the days of the late Paul Lawrence Adderley, God rest his soul, when he promulgated “Adderley’s Law” in the 1980s. Most of our male students drop out of regular school and graduate, often with PhDs from the Department of Corrections. The females, in the main, go on to at least UB or BTVI.

Our students and population, across the board, never recovered. Jeffrey, God bless him too, has his work cut out for him. I will next deal with the Office of The Prime Minister.

To God then, in all things, be the glory.

 

– Ortland H. Bodie Jr.


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