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Politicole: Low Quality Of Life Reflects Poor Education Of Bahamians

By NICOLE BURROWS

IF you want to know about the real economic welfare of Bahamians in The Bahamas, take a complete tour of New Providence island, since this island represents The Bahamas’ greatest “development”.

Official reports say one thing about our economic wellbeing, but the full story is evidenced all around you. Just open your eyes and look at it. Look at what you’re standing in the middle of when you venture beyond your home. Look at what you see out your window when you take a drive.

Driving around most of New Providence is depressing, unless you have an ocean view on the drive to distract you from the fact that you will encounter at least one of the following irritants.

BAD ROADS

We have a few nice, fairly new roads, some that are recently constructed and seem to be resilient, and some that have to be dug up over and over again, never being restored to a pristine, newly finished condition. But for every nice, new road, there are about 50 connecting to it which are in a horrible and shameful state. Cracks, potholes, caverns, tyre-puncturing particles... any number of things are in the streets to destroy your vehicle, your peace of mind, and your quality of life.

GARBAGE

Since I was in the 5th or 6th grade, there’s been an ongoing campaign against litter and people who litter, so how is littering still one of our biggest problems? Are Bahamians just a nasty set of people or a people who cannot learn? Either they didn’t get the message back then and never have, or there are new people here who don’t care about (our) cleanliness; perhaps both. Major thoroughfares like Milo Butler Highway and Bethel Avenue North are constantly draped in garbage. There is garbage in the streets and garbage in the bushes. It reflects a nation without pride; no individual pride, no national pride. Who wants to convince me otherwise? How could there possibly be real national pride about any feature of the Bahamas when, as a larger group, we have barely the simplest pride about our own health and hygiene and continue to be comfortable living amongst the garbage?

How much does it inconvenience you to keep that bottle, can, plastic bag, cup or KFC box in your car until you get where you’re going, if you can’t be bothered to use a public trash bin along your journey? I live in an old neighbourhood that used to be immaculate; now I have to remove garbage from in front of my house every day. My neighbourhood is a ghetto slum because the people who have moved here in the last 25 years live like ghetto slum people – Bahamians and immigrants alike.

And, if actual garbage in the streets and bushes wasn’t enough to contend with, we now suffer garbage in our breathing space by way of air pollution from the dump smoke, which, this past weekend, was the worst I have ever seen. How’s that for your quality of life, the standard of well-being?

LAWLESS PEOPLE

They sit on the street-side watching the traffic all day long, you’d think they’d learn how to manoeuvre in it. But they cross the road haphazardly, at any part of the street, even if it’s two feet from a crosswalk. They drag themselves across the street, because you have to wait for them, you in the car on the street made for cars. They cross when the light is green and cuss you out if you don’t let them. They walk in the street, with two spanking new sidewalks on either side made specifically for pedestrians. They walk three abreast in the street, and to hell with vehicular traffic, because they own the road and they gat bumper.

And the lawless drivers are as bad as or worse than the lawless pedestrians, given that they’re moving a ton or more of metal down the street well above the speed limit. If you travel at 50 mph down East Street, you could expect that you will injure or kill someone who is unfortunate enough to get in your way.

Idiot drivers in popular “drug dealer” cars, private buses, government and unmarked armoured vehicles side swipe you to get ahead of... I don’t know what; because where on earth are they going? The island is only 21 by seven. Furthermore, you wouldn’t know where they are going because they often don’t use an indicator, and when they do it is not unusual for them to use the wrong one. There are two directions, direct opposites of each other, so how is this a problem? There’s that D-average again catching up to us, and it’s affecting our general quality of life.

AGED AND

RUN-DOWN VEHICLES

Vehicles are left to fall apart on the side of the street; some fall apart while driving. There are many vehicles on the streets that are smashed up and worn out. Most Bahamians can’t properly afford one decent vehicle in their entire lifetimes, not without paying for three. For their whole lives, they get to drive the same, steadily handicapped vehicles which degenerate faster because of the horrible road conditions. If they buy a new car, its life span is immediately shortened after banging into a few craters in the roads. Add to that the illegal drivers – people without license to drive and people without license to live or drive in The Bahamas – who have no insurance, cannot drive, and when they slam into your vehicle you have no recourse. The disc says they have insurance, but when you go to claim for the damage they’ve caused, the insurance company tells you there is no policy in their system for that vehicle.

Even when you have police reports and take the offenders to court they manage to escape the law, at least long enough that you get so pissed off and inconvenienced you stop chasing them and end up paying for your own car repairs, or you join the band of unfortunates destined to drive a decrepit vehicle.

And, in the end, when you’re done paying for a vehicle to one of the scam artist commercial banks, just to get from work to home and back in a decent amount of time, run errands on the weekends, and shuttle your children to and from school, you are grossly out of pocket.

You keep pumping money into this one, worn out vehicle because you can’t afford to pay for three new ones rolled into the price of one. Are we not informed enough to recognise that this system of ‘ownership’ through eternal personal debt to commercial banks defeats our ability to move forward? What is the real quality of this kind of life experienced from year to year?

Where is the quality of life we should expect from a nation of richness? Why can’t we maintain our roadways, environmental cleanliness, traffic regulations and safety, and personal incomes?

The wealth of the nation sits in the pockets of a dozen people, or in the pockets of the corrupt, or the bank accounts of the families the once corrupt have left behind. Admittedly, riches being in the hands of a few, relative to country and world populations, is a global occurrence.

Certainly, if you are productive and innovative, you have every right to be wealthy. But what is the “society” and the “government” doing to ensure that people have opportunities to truly be productive and innovative?

Education is restrained without an environment to facilitate its innovations, but the problem of the Bahamas is worse, still, than a lack of environment and opportunity. Students are graduating illiterate and innumerate; they can’t speak, read, spell, or write, they can’t add, multiply, or divide. And as their numbers grow so do the gaps in economic welfare.

It has been established that you don’t need a college degree to excel in business, but when you have no academic achievement coupled with no ability to reason and think in an organised, rational way, which is the entire point of education, then you are deadweight on a society, especially a struggling one.

Few people pay attention to you or what abilities you may have; they’re not combing you with microscopic eyes to find your worth and value; they toss you by the wayside. And all because your government and society couldn’t find a way to make holistic education a priority for you and allow you true liberty in your own land.

There are so many lost and missed opportunities, so much ignorance about what is owed and earned, so many people being taken advantage of. And corruption is a layer atop the ignorance which results in a sort of deliberate blindness to what is happening beneath the surface of our lives.

In a recent BBC World News interview, the interviewee reaffirmed that the key to creating wealth is education and job creation through entrepreneurship, the latter being “where job creation happens the fastest”.

But we, in The Bahamas, continue to advance the inept and incompetent and then push them out into a world of touristic servitude, mindless, uninventive labour, in some implanted resort property, with their only hope of elevation being based in the improbable event that they will get an inclination and a chance along the way to study medicine, law, accounting, banking, or engineering, and be groomed to perpetuate the cycle of inequality and limited opportunity.

We are now trying to catch up to what should have been done at least 30 to 40 years ago. With the present fractured condition and limited educational attainment of large numbers of Bahamian people, what real promise does the future hold?

How do you erase/ minimise the impact of decades of poor education (miseducation, and brainwashing)?

Maybe you don’t... maybe you can’t. Maybe poor education, through its far-reaching and penetrating tentacles, will inevitably result in an irreversibly low and declining quality of life and the death of our economic freedom.

• Send comments via Tribune242.com or nicole@politiCole.com.

Comments

Honestman 5 years ago

You are spot on with your observations Nicole. The fact of the matter is that the governing party has no desire to improve the general education of the populace. Why? Because an educated electorate ask questions and demands accountability. Better to keep 'em dumb and gullible then we can buy their votes for a tea shirt and a microwave!

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asiseeit 5 years ago

Agreed, how would the political elite get elected if the people where educated? The short answer is that they would not get elected. The other major organization that does not want an educated population is the church. You think educated people would listen to and give to 75% of the churches out there if they where educated? Not a chance!

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TheMadHatter 5 years ago

Exactly, the Church ranks at least in the top 5 of biggest problems we have in this country. Oh how I wish they could all just disappear overnight. Then we might start to focus on life instead of death.

TheMadHatter

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duppyVAT 5 years ago

Nicole: You need to do a study of conchy joe vs black neighbourhoods and find out why they are different. That will get the haters going off their rockers.

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Andrewharris 5 years ago

I find that so many young people lack basic comprehension skills. They do not understand so much of what they hear (they don't read). They also lack any desire to learn anything new (or just anything). They have no interest in anything. They just gossip and whats app and watch reality TV. It is shocking the level of ignorance. I wonder where we will be in 5 /10 years. What will happen. And theses ignorant young people are very fruitful...they multiply. This is real cause for alarm.

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CatIslandBoy 5 years ago

This article accurately chronicles the sad state of affairs in our country. Unfortunately, much of the blame for our sub-standard academic achievement, disrespect for others and the rule of law, and cavalier attitude towards the proliferation of garbage and junked vehicles cannot all be laid at the feet of the government (PLP nor FNM). We parents have largely abandoned our collective responsibilities and left the task of educating our children completely to the schools and the television sets. There was a time when parents played an active role in their children's educational process. They made sure all homework was done, attended all PTA meetings, and even dropped by the school to check on the quality of the teaching in the classroom. There was also the looming, unspoken fear of the "rod". While the political establishment is a direct beneficiary of an illiterate voting populace, they are not the driving cause.

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Economist 5 years ago

You are correct CatIslandBoy, teachers tell me that in most cases, not all, the students who do better are the ones where the parents take a positive role.

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duppyVAT 5 years ago

If you really know how POORLY the public school system is doing ........ based on BJC/BGCSE pass rates and cohort completion rate ............ it will blow your mind!!! That is 75% of the student population of the country. There is no "D" average ....... its "F".

These schools and principals AND teachers and parents and government MOE officers must be held accountable. THERE IS NO LONG TERM PLAN TO FIX PUBLIC EDUCATION

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avidreader 5 years ago

An interesting article from the point of view of a young person. However, for the average reader to more fully understand and appreciate the background of some of the deficiencies the writer points to it is absolutely imperative to read widely in Bahamian history which is more interesting and in some cases more surprising than many people realize. This small country has gone through great social, economic and demographic changes in a relatively few centuries and has passed through periods of very difficult conditions. Of course, back then there were far fewer of us to educate, house, feed, employ and take care of in their old age. Population increase has played havoc with most countries on this planet and our small group of islands is no exception. However, all is not lost since with the advent of enlightened leadership in the hopefully not too distant future there could be some relief in sight.

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shortpants 5 years ago

BJC/BGCSE pass rates and cohort completion rate ............ it will blow your mind!!! That is 75% of the student population of the country. There is no "D" average ....... its "F". And do most off you care to find out why. When these children are placed in these classes to do there exams it seems to be that everything on the paper is different from what they have been taught or studied for .So what they do is just try and filled out as much questions that they know.You cannot teach one thing and put something totally different on paper this is why we have D and F grades ask the students out their .

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duppyVAT 5 years ago

Please explain further (everything on the paper is different) Shortpants

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