We Must Invest More if Our Leaders of Tomorrow are to be Useful Leaders!

There are some statements that drive me up the wall, especially when they fall out of the mouths of politicians. One such statement is “our youth are the future.”

Consider the following: “Darren Julius Garvey Sammy, who was born 20 December 1983, recently led the West Indies to its second victory in the ICC T20 World cup tournament. On making his One Day International (ODI) debut against Bangladesh in 2004 Sammy became the first person from Saint Lucia to play international cricket. Three years later he made his Test debut against England, taking 7/66, which was the best bowling figure for a West Indian in his first Test since Alf Valentine in 1950. Sammy was appointed West Indies captain in October 2010. He scored his maiden Test century in May 2012 during a match against England. Sammy also plays in the IPL and the CPL.”

It is so easy now to talk about Sammy after he has proved himself. Easy to talk about his “potential” way back when and to seek to benefit from his achievements with flower speeches about our young people being “the future.” How many who talk that way lifted a finger to help Sammy the boy achieve the envisaged potential? Might Sammy have been an even greater player had he been given the opportunity to excel when he was fifteen or sixteen? Or did no one see his potential back then?

 The SLPs Castries South hopeful Ernest Hilaire poses with aspiring dancers from Faux A Chaud in need of more than just hand-outs and selfies with politicians!

The SLPs Castries South hopeful Ernest Hilaire poses with aspiring dancers from Faux A Chaud in need of more than just hand-outs and selfies with politicians!

I have always said our children are not the future; they are our present. And we should do for them the best possible as early as possible, in other words, now.

The second thing that makes my blood boil is when people use the word extracurricular activity in relation to sports, music and the arts.

Consider this, referencing a Faux a Chaud dance group: “As a youth advocate, I strongly believe in the importance of academics. However, there are more components of becoming a well-rounded individual. Extracurricular activities like dancing are great ways to socialize, enhance time management skills and improve overall productivity. Aren’t these dancers moving forward?”

The above comment was posted on the Facebook page of the SLP’s candidate for Castries South, Ernest Hilaire, a few days ago.

Of course it’s the silly season, but there should be limits to how far we permit our mouths to take us, even as politicians. It sickens me to see politicians with the youth, deprived and elderly, shamelessly suggesting how much they care about the shut-in, the poor and children obviously in need of special attention. Nowhere is it suggested that what the pictured needy citizens receive is paid for by taxpayers, not with money out of the politician’s private bank account. If only they would recall the wisdom in “when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” I well remember the late Romanus Lansiquot eating out of a calabash in Black Mallet while promising the rastas to legalize ganja!

But I may have digressed.

As a self-proclaimed youth advocate and intellect, Ernest Hilare should know informed people do not refer to the arts as “extracurricular.” Forget whatever Kenny might say about that; better to seek out the wisdom of Derek Walcott.

Extracurricular activities fall outside the regular curricular of modern schools. Volunteer activities also fall under the extracurricular umbrella.

In the real world the arts and sports form part of the formal and regular education system. Studies have also proven that a well-rounded educational experience that includes the arts is closely linked to academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

But again, ‘tis the season where politicians will say and do just about anything when addressing the near-inebriated and conveniently deaf, dumb and blind. On the other hand, sober minds are also looking on and listening.

Over the last four years, millions of taxpayer dollars have been devoured by the Ministry of Creative Industries, which has become little more than a STEP programme for the arts. Just a few weeks ago the prime minister feted “creatives” at his official residence if only to pose for selfies with many a starving artiste. At this juncture I cannot help but ponder: What is the point of spending millions on a Jazz & Arts Festival when few of our schools boast art programmes? When will we finally realize that our children are not the future, they are our now; and we have a duty to invest in them if they will be useful leaders of tomorrow! Placing the arts at the top of the totem pole will also make a big difference. Meanwhile, bet your bottom dollar you will witness dozens of youngsters, like those pictured here, on stage at many a political rally this silly season, only to be forgotten thereafter.

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