A-Musings: A Cry for Help

Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.

I’ve been doing these a-musings for about 18 months, and quite a few people have been kind enough to tell me that they enjoy reading them. Then there are even kinder people who tell me how much they appreciate what we have been trying to do for education in Saint Lucia for the past decades. Well, now it’s crunch time. We cannot continue going it alone without help. We need assistance.

InTime Education Television (IETV) is a not-for-profit channel that provides educational content to the homes and schools of Saint Lucia. It is the Caribbean’s first and only TV station dedicated to education 24/7, but few in Saint Lucia seem to care. As an acquaintance, an importer of foodstuffs, once told me: “It’s easier to sell chicken backs than education”. People need to eat; they don’t need to learn. His millions have grown while mine have dwindled.

C&W, a.k.a. LIME, has always been an ardent supporter of education and a great company to work with, which is amazing really considering the pretty strong opinions I voiced about its pricing policy before Digicel arrived on the scene. In today’s “if you’re not for us, you must be against us” society, C&W’s attitude has been a refreshing rarity. Years ago, the InTime team and C&W collaborated in piloting the use of computers in a limited number of primary schools. The project was so successful that we at InTime decided to seek a third partner, in addition to the Ministry of Education, to help make the program a reality in all infant and primary schools.

We approached The Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) who evaluated the project and agreed to provide computer hardware. Intime would provide books, interactive online content, and training for over 900 teachers; LIME would provide island-wide connectivity to all 86 schools. Intime and Taiwan shared the project costs that ran into the millions. This was without a doubt the biggest, costliest, private, benevolent investment in education ever made – or ever likely to be made – in Saint Lucia. Yet even today, the InTime Project receives no government grants or subsidies; it is entirely dependent on support from viewers, businesses and private sources for its survival. We need help.

The project also provided every school with a 40-inch flat-screen TV. Believing that hardware is useless without content, InTime started a television channel to bring educational content not only to every school but also into every home. Initially, the programs were the same as were used in schools to allow children to share and enjoy at home what they had learned at school. Subsequently, the program base was expanded to appeal to all age groups.

If we ask anyone in power, in government, in the private sector about the importance of education we get the same positive answer. If we ask what they think of our efforts they are full of praise. If we ask for assistance or an advertising dollar, their response will be “What’s in it for us?” Are we the only ones who understand, and are willing to pay for, the future benefits of a better-educated society?

One of IETV’s main objectives is to provide information about Saint Lucia. To this end we have produced thousands of videos that deal with historical, cultural, ecological, social, and geographic aspects of communities that will provoke an interest among the population in learning more about their country; schools will use the programs for instruction. Once online, each program will be part of a series of electronic textbooks available to all at no cost. Cost should never be a barrier to better education.

The content of our programs is an attractive addition to any company’s contribution to education, entertainment, national awareness and pride among schoolchildren and adults. Many programs are produced in two versions, English and Creole to allow us to reach out to all sections of the community. Success breeds success. We need your support. Our fresh 4-hour loop is shown 6 times each day on all cable networks; we also provide NTN with daily educational content. Each loop contains one hour of basic educational content, Kindergarten through Primary 6. Another hour presents up-to-date, global news from “Democracy Now”. The 3rd and 4th hours vary in content: The Environment Hour, Everything St Lucia, Creole Language Programs, History, Science, General Knowledge, the rivers of St Lucia (Lazy Rivers & Upstream), Geogalottery, and a host of other locally produced programs.

Sponsorship packages range from EC$200 to $5,000 per month. Individual donations are welcome; every little counts. Please call Germaine at 450 9929 to discuss how you can help keep this valuable educational resource alive. And remember, I am always available at walkerm@candw.lc. Please get in touch.

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