Categorized | Features, General

De Ole Dawg – Part 6: Contribution

What about “people first” [re-]development?

BRADES, Montserrat, Nov 4, 2015 – In the thematic picture for this series,  there are two visible lions, but – as lions run in groups called “prides”  – more are probably lurking. (Yes, “a pride of lions” is proper English, and that may well point to one root of our longstanding troubles . . . )lion and tyres

I think, lion no. 3 is the “people-first development” issue.

Why is that so?

Some basic biology: between our ear-bags we each have a 1,000 – 1,500 cc, on average 3 ¼ lb, neural network “electro-chemical” computer.  This “wet-ware” computer is much more complex than any supercomputer that Scientists have ever built. It stores memories, allows us to control our body and its limbs, enables us to speak, see and hear, consuming about 20% of the body’s oxygen intake. It is so vital that it is surrounded by a solid bone armour plate, the skull.

Surely, the brain is Montserrat’s natural resource no. 1:

ole dog

(Credit: http://www.brainwaves.com/ )

Also, in 1994 the United Nations sponsored Barbados Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States (BPOA-SIDS) wrote:

Small island developing States have valuable resources, including oceans, coastal environments, biodiversity and, most importantly, human resources.  Their potential is recognized, but the challenge for small island developing States is to ensure that they are used in a sustainable way for the well-being of present and future generations . . .

It is our brains that we use to guide skilled hands to do work, and to think about how other things can become useful resources. That is how valuable ideas, key skills, new resources, goods and services become the foundation of a vibrant economy that brings benefits to all of us. It is thus no surprise that in her acceptance speech, HE Governor Carriere said: “I believe very strongly that Montserrat’s future lies in the hands of its most valuable resource: its people.

So, if people are our most precious and powerful resource, logically, our development policy must address as high priority components of development:

  • sound nutrition and good health for all,
  • proper stimulating experiences for the young child,
  • effective education and training (and linked welfare services), and
  • support for getting jobs or starting successful small businesses. . This is why people must come first in development.

For, it’s a package-deal: you get the whole person, not just a brain, with some eyes, ears and a couple of hands hanging off of it. Starting, in the womb.

So health, nutrition and social support for expectant mothers is where it begins. It’s great to have heard the emphasis on breast feeding in recent weeks as that helps babies get a good start on life.  Our community provides some good support for early childhood education and health needs of young children. Primary education also seems generally adequate, though there is always room for improvement.

The more serious concerns are at secondary and community college levels.

Perhaps, the proposed new secondary school campus can be a “catalyst” for key improvements in the campuses and in the organisation, management, staffing, operations and matching secondary and tertiary education  to Montserrat’s likely work force needs over the next 15 – 20 years.  This will require considerable thinking about what sort of world economy and technology base will emerge in coming years, then about where we can fit in successfully given things like geothermal energy, solar energy, our Caribbean environment and tourism potential, etc. For instance, what if the world moves to plug-in rechargeable electric cars as a part of moving away from fossil fuels?

One possibility: what if the Community College and UWI centre take over parts of the Salem Campus to expand their facilities and offer a wider array of Associate Degree and even Bachelor’s degree courses?

Perhaps, they can also host executive MBAs, Master’s degrees in public administration, natural resources and hazards/disaster management, diplomas in green energy technologies, etc.?

We can already see that CXC is transforming the CAPE “A levels” into associate degrees, with strong emphases on both traditional academic subjects and technology-based ones.

Two possible offshore medical schools/universities are trying to develop programmes/ campuses here. Maybe, they can share some facilities with the possible joint UWI-MCC mini campus, and maybe, they can be a part of the new hospital project

Then, with the high and rising costs of textbooks (which can sometimes be very hard to get) we should think about book leasing schemes, supporting teachers in producing class workbooks with course notes, and moving to e-textbooks and tablet computers. For, it is surprisingly easy to produce e-books. Though, we should not underestimate the potential of using a Risograph-type modern duplicator machine to produce our own course workbooks or even just handouts.

While all of that is going on, we have to pay attention to the vulnerable and various types of social services. Nutrition, health, housing and general welfare are all important for needy families. The needy and vulnerable come in families.

On social housing, it seems there has been a long struggle to get through even the first wave of seven to ten cases. Close behind, there are four hundred people on a list for post-volcano housing support – after twenty years.  Obviously, building houses, roads and the like can help to pump up our economy while “catalytic” initiatives are being developed.

One group of those “catalytic” initiatives will have to be job placement, incubation of new small businesses, some venture financing, support to existing small businesses, and a major push to help rebuild agriculture.

Again, we have the St Helena £ 250 million airport project as a yardstick, we have means and opportunity. So, if not now, then when – and why?

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What about “people first” [re-]development?

BRADES, Montserrat, Nov 4, 2015 – In the thematic picture for this series,  there are two visible lions, but – as lions run in groups called “prides”  – more are probably lurking. (Yes, “a pride of lions” is proper English, and that may well point to one root of our longstanding troubles . . . )lion and tyres

I think, lion no. 3 is the “people-first development” issue.

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Why is that so?

Some basic biology: between our ear-bags we each have a 1,000 – 1,500 cc, on average 3 ¼ lb, neural network “electro-chemical” computer.  This “wet-ware” computer is much more complex than any supercomputer that Scientists have ever built. It stores memories, allows us to control our body and its limbs, enables us to speak, see and hear, consuming about 20% of the body’s oxygen intake. It is so vital that it is surrounded by a solid bone armour plate, the skull.

Surely, the brain is Montserrat’s natural resource no. 1:

ole dog

(Credit: http://www.brainwaves.com/ )

Also, in 1994 the United Nations sponsored Barbados Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States (BPOA-SIDS) wrote:

Small island developing States have valuable resources, including oceans, coastal environments, biodiversity and, most importantly, human resources.  Their potential is recognized, but the challenge for small island developing States is to ensure that they are used in a sustainable way for the well-being of present and future generations . . .

It is our brains that we use to guide skilled hands to do work, and to think about how other things can become useful resources. That is how valuable ideas, key skills, new resources, goods and services become the foundation of a vibrant economy that brings benefits to all of us. It is thus no surprise that in her acceptance speech, HE Governor Carriere said: “I believe very strongly that Montserrat’s future lies in the hands of its most valuable resource: its people.

So, if people are our most precious and powerful resource, logically, our development policy must address as high priority components of development:

For, it’s a package-deal: you get the whole person, not just a brain, with some eyes, ears and a couple of hands hanging off of it. Starting, in the womb.

So health, nutrition and social support for expectant mothers is where it begins. It’s great to have heard the emphasis on breast feeding in recent weeks as that helps babies get a good start on life.  Our community provides some good support for early childhood education and health needs of young children. Primary education also seems generally adequate, though there is always room for improvement.

The more serious concerns are at secondary and community college levels.

Perhaps, the proposed new secondary school campus can be a “catalyst” for key improvements in the campuses and in the organisation, management, staffing, operations and matching secondary and tertiary education  to Montserrat’s likely work force needs over the next 15 – 20 years.  This will require considerable thinking about what sort of world economy and technology base will emerge in coming years, then about where we can fit in successfully given things like geothermal energy, solar energy, our Caribbean environment and tourism potential, etc. For instance, what if the world moves to plug-in rechargeable electric cars as a part of moving away from fossil fuels?

One possibility: what if the Community College and UWI centre take over parts of the Salem Campus to expand their facilities and offer a wider array of Associate Degree and even Bachelor’s degree courses?

Perhaps, they can also host executive MBAs, Master’s degrees in public administration, natural resources and hazards/disaster management, diplomas in green energy technologies, etc.?

We can already see that CXC is transforming the CAPE “A levels” into associate degrees, with strong emphases on both traditional academic subjects and technology-based ones.

Two possible offshore medical schools/universities are trying to develop programmes/ campuses here. Maybe, they can share some facilities with the possible joint UWI-MCC mini campus, and maybe, they can be a part of the new hospital project

Then, with the high and rising costs of textbooks (which can sometimes be very hard to get) we should think about book leasing schemes, supporting teachers in producing class workbooks with course notes, and moving to e-textbooks and tablet computers. For, it is surprisingly easy to produce e-books. Though, we should not underestimate the potential of using a Risograph-type modern duplicator machine to produce our own course workbooks or even just handouts.

While all of that is going on, we have to pay attention to the vulnerable and various types of social services. Nutrition, health, housing and general welfare are all important for needy families. The needy and vulnerable come in families.

On social housing, it seems there has been a long struggle to get through even the first wave of seven to ten cases. Close behind, there are four hundred people on a list for post-volcano housing support – after twenty years.  Obviously, building houses, roads and the like can help to pump up our economy while “catalytic” initiatives are being developed.

One group of those “catalytic” initiatives will have to be job placement, incubation of new small businesses, some venture financing, support to existing small businesses, and a major push to help rebuild agriculture.

Again, we have the St Helena £ 250 million airport project as a yardstick, we have means and opportunity. So, if not now, then when – and why?