Former Education PS cautions against Sir Arthur change

The world in 2012 is a very different place from 1980; in small things, big changes have occurred that have altered our frames of reference forever,” said Dr Didacus Jules in his lecture themed, “St Lucia’s Survival Options.” The annual Sir Arthur Lewis lecture in celebration of Nobel Laureate Week saw in attendance Dame Pearlette Louisy, Minister for Education, Dr Robert Lewis, President of the Senate, Claudius Francis, deputy Speaker of the House, Dr Desmond Long, Monsignor Patrick Anthony and many other well-recognized St Lucians.
Dr Didacus Jules, who is the current Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Examinations Council, immediately captured the crowd’s attention by reading a very funny poem by James Huggins entitled, “Remember When.”
Dr Jules added, “In today’s world, the key to progress is transformation and whole systems have changed. Incremental change can no longer provide the impetus for survival in a turbulent environment.”
Dr Jules, a former permanent secretary at St Lucia’s Education ministry, noted the difficulty and challenges in facing these turbulent times.
“It is not simply about your ability to swim and tread in water but your ability to ride the crest of the most threatening waves to the safer shore.” He added that there are technologies available today to provide such enabling potential which will further cushion the impact of such an environment. To bring his point across, Dr Jules highlighted last year’s uprising in Egypt which went viral on Facebook as a typical example of how technology can be used to force change upon an environment.
He took some time to comment on Africa, hitting the international media on their lack of focus on the potential of Africa but rather depicting images of a poor and undeveloped country, adding that repeated images of such has convinced the world that Africa has no hope of ever developing.
Dr Jules also stated that the process of global convergence has profound implications for St Lucia “whether we accept this or not.”
He added, “these global currents at the least limit the options that are available to us in the Caribbean as small vulnerable economies and at worst they directly impact livelihood and jobs, cost of living and the type of future that is open to us.”
According to Dr Jules, the essential challenges that we face surround three main spheres; the political, social and economic. He also stated that not all problems will be limited to any one of these spheres but will affect all categories. An example he said is the problem of drugs which affects the political, social and economic status of a country especially in the Caribbean.
“So in addressing these essential challenges, we must recognize the need for comprehensive multi-sectorial solutions that tackle the problems from many angles and not just uni-dimensional. Through power point charts and statistics Jules also emphasized on the prime minister’s suggestion of educating the voting public. Jules  spent a little time going through statistics to show over 46 percent of St Lucians did not partake in the electoral process of the last election. “If we are concerned about the future of this country, this reality must be the subject of deep introspection and critical scrutiny by all political forces,” he said before adding, “too many St Lucians are failing to exercise their right to vote; a right earned by the blood of our fore parents . . . Where do we start this process of reconstructing citizens? It must happen at all level simultaneously—a sense of civic responsibility and historical awareness must be developed from early, even from the kindergarten classroom, our children must learn responsibility by being given responsibility.”
In addressing the need for a better approach to education and the need to provide more educational opportunities for St Lucians, Dr Jules cautioned the new minister for Education in the effort to transform Sir Arthur Lewis Community College into a full-fledged university.
“We are in danger of
taking a first rate college and turning it into third rate university,” he said adding, “if we are serious about turning anything into a university, it has to have adequate funding and a right curriculum structure.” Other than a few questions during the discussion everyone seemed quite satisfied with all the points made by the education expert.
Both Dr Robert Lewis and Senator James Fletcher—judging by the number of times they nodded their heads—seemed intrigued by the presentation.

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