Trinidad and Tobago became independent in 1962. Without a doubt, we have made tremendous strides.
I graduated from secondary school in 1962, the same year we
became independent. I can categorically state that I have enjoyed a very comfortable standard of living. If I have not gone further, it would have been due to my constrained drive and the prevailing ideology of the day to educate oneself and then serve government or private enterprise.
However, on a macroeconomic, social and political level, the ideology of our successive governments could have been more humanitarian and functional. For example, our educational policies, in many ways, were pie in the sky.
The governments of the day tried too much to reproduce the policies of the UK and US without attempting to examine, through indigenous research, our reality that not everybody could have benefited from a grammar-school-type education. I would say we did not have a true understanding of the structure and dynamics of schooling and citizenship. Indeed, this flaw continues till today.
Our health policies, developmental plans for infrastructure; our approaches to crime, prison reform, poverty reduction; addressing the needs of the physically, economically, emotionally and mentally challenged are also all the victims of our confused ideology and laissez-faire approach to governance.
Too many of us in leadership positions in Trinidad and Tobago seem not to have developed the propensity for political morality, integrity, servant leadership, critical thinking, indigenous analysis, innovation and creativity. We still rely too much on social mobility, paper certification and “contacts”, rather than on commitment to the nation, aptitude, competence and original thought.
For the impending elections, I would like to hear more about how our aspiring political leaders intend to respond to the imperatives of better social living, a more vibrant and world-competing economy, a better and more responsive education system, and more effective approaches to crime, justice, health care and schooling.
Rehashing old policies will not appease me. Our leaders have to understand that a new civilisation worldwide is unfolding and new perspectives and strategies have to become the norm.
Raymond S Hackett