A-M u s i n g s: With hands wide open

This is a tough one to write because it is not in my nature to borrow or beg. I always pay for my own lunch, do not borrow money from banks, and make sure I can pay my own way. But now, after more than a decade, perhaps two, of service to this community, enough is just about to become enough.

In the past, InTime has donated millions of dollars worth of books, computers and televisions to Infant and Primary Schools throughout the island. Many children who would otherwise not have been able to purchase them have been able to enjoy the benefits of having their own textbooks. The televisions are used assiduously.

The provision of textbooks is one important aspect of our efforts to introduce and sustain an integrated, multi-media approach to education. Other aspects are teacher-training workshops, the maintenance of on-line websites for use in ‘our’ computer rooms, and the IETV television station that broadcasts 24/7 all year round.

IETV is an essential component in our multi-media approach. Access to over 3,000 videos that illustrate and demonstrate the content of the books greatly enhances classroom methodology. The teacher can choose to use books, computers, whiteboards or TV screens in her classroom teaching and can further augment school lessons by having pupils watch the programs at home with the family. IETV’s daily scheduling is linked to the school curriculum, which allows teachers to plan their teaching around anticipated programs and thus add a great deal of variety and spice to their teaching.

In this way, IETV becomes part of the family TV-fare and we can truly say that we are bringing education into all the homes in Saint Lucia. Hardly a day goes by without some parent approaching one of our team – our faces and names have become household items – to thank us for what we are doing for Saint Lucia. Interestingly, and quite cutely, most adults preface their remarks with “It’s too easy for me, of course, but your programs are just right for my kids, and I like to sit and watch with them too.” It seems that what once seemed a ‘Mission Impossible’ is becoming a reality and more and more St Lucians are turning to educational content for their daily entertainment (LIME 32 & Karib 102)

As an additional incentive to making education available islandwide, we provide every other commercial TV station with access to our programs via dedicated FTP sites from which each station can download – at no cost – programs for airing on their own channels.

Originally, we aired a two-hour loop 12 times daily. The enormous success and acceptance of our channel has enabled us to increase our output to 4 hours of fresh educational content each day, Monday to Friday, with repeats at the weekend. Our four-hour loop now contains elements previously inaccessible to teachers, pupils and the general population. We air, for example, a daily one-hour program of international news. This initiative adds a new dimension to the daily news fare served up by other stations.

We also air a series of programs called ‘Teachers TV’ which deals with teaching methodology, learning and discipline issues, extension programs, etc., filmed in real situations with real pupils and teachers. I think we can boast that never before has any Caribbean station attempted to offer help and advice about education on a regular, entertaining basis to teachers and parents – and perhaps even students. Through a very successful collaboration with International Artists, we also offer a regular thrice-weekly half hour program of classical concerts that are proving to be immensely popular among our viewers. It is most gratifying to discover that if you offer people quality – and incidentally, expect more of them – they will accept and embrace quality programming. No other station offers anything but the regular run-of-the-mill popular music.

These are only a few of the many innovative programs that we offer the St Lucian populace; I could go on and on, but suffice to say, that all this costs money, a lot of money, despite the incredible effort and dedication the staff at IETV show to ‘the cause’. There is not, not anywhere, a more motivated, creative, hard-working team of editors and producers than the team at IETV, who give their all to the cause of education on the island. Without support from local businesses and enterprises, IETV will be compelled to cease operations in the very near future. What a shameful reflection of St Lucia’s attitude to education that would be!

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