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Editorial: Is The Bahamas Committed To Its Own Success?

IN a pre-retirement speech at the Royal Fidelity Bahamas Economic Outlook in February, Tim Rider, Royal Bank of Canada’s vice president of sales, gave Bahamians a bit of sound advice that they did not want to hear — especially coming from a white man, and a foreigner at that.

Mr Rider told Bahamians that they cannot allow the educational “status quo” to persist if the Bahamas is to be competitive in the global economy. He pointed out that in moving to a digital platform he has been asked many times to “slow down and give folks time to adjust,” but, he said, “we cannot be slowing down. In fact, we need to be speeding up.”

And then he posed the question, a question to which all Bahamians should give very serious thought: “Should a global lender like RBC be committed to the Bahamas if the Bahamas is not committed to its own success?”

He warned that without change to bring the Bahamas up to world class standards it will continue to fail. The Bahamas, he said, cannot allow the “status quo” in education to persist if it is to be competitive in the global economy.

In his view the single factor “that is now and will continue to lead to income and wealth inequality in the Bahamas is the inadequate education and training of its citizens.”

Corruption, poor fiscal responsibility, detrimental mortgage and lending laws have had adverse consequences for the banking industry, he said.

A Tribune reporter interviewed Opposition Leader “Brave” Davis after the talk to find out his views on what Mr Rider had said. Mr Davis made it clear that he was not pleased. But he went further. He said he wrote the Royal Bank of Canada urging officials to take whatever action they deemed appropriate.

No one can fire a person for telling the truth, if indeed that was what Mr Davis was suggesting. We would suggest the bank write Mr Davis and advise him to reread what Mr Rider had said, digest it and for the sake of the Bahamian people do something about it.

We later talked with a Bahamian businessman, who had attended the function and heard the same speech.

“What surprised me,” he told us, “was that Bahamian businessmen were outraged about the presentation. I knew that they knew that what Mr Rider was saying was correct, but my impression was that they were outraged that a white foreigner dared to say such things.”

It would seem that after all of these generations the “massa complex” still courses through the collective veins of this country. This is another problem – in many cases it is a major problem.

And so Mr Rider’s good advice has been tossed through the window because he is white and he is foreign.

Well here is the same opinion – not foreign, but all Bahamian – expressed in this column 11 years ago under the heading: “Illiteracy threatens Bahamian economy.”

It was an editorial on the revue of the Coalition for Education Reform, written by Bahamian employers and trade unionists, who concluded that if not corrected the woes and corresponding low academic achievement of today’s (2007) Bahamian educational system will lead to “low economic growth and increased social instability.”

The Bahamian Coalition pointed out that too many of today’s (2007) public school youth on leaving school are unemployable. They cannot meet the requirements of a technological age. Nor are many of them well enough equipped to fill less skilled jobs.

This is what Bahamians – not a white foreigner —were saying 11 years ago. Not much has changed since then, except that there is no longer a breakdown from the Ministry of Education of the BGCSE exam results for the public to see just how dismal the averages – E and Ds – remain in the public school system.

It is the Bahamas and its people that will suffer – and are already feeling the predicted pinch — if this country’s leaders do not take Mr Rider’s and the Coalition’s warning seriously.

Comments

Porcupine 1 year, 10 months ago

You are absolutely correct. But, let's carry it a bit further in our parsing of the word "education" Preparing for the "tech" world is a skill set. Yes, that will help one get a job. However, education must be seen in its full meaning. From birth, we must be guided and allowed to flourish in body and mind. For this to occur, we must assure that a child is surrounded by those who care intimately about the success of this individual. Our children must be nurtured, loved, protected, be well-fed, be assured that they are cared about unconditionally. They must have the resources, parents, teachers, ALL those around them to achieve their full potential. A proper education consists of developing a person who has drive. The drive to become better, the drive to satisfy their employer, the drive to arrive to work on time, everyday they are scheduled. They must have a good attitude, be a team player, want to help others and want to succeed. Technical abilities are important. However, what is much more important is the attitude of this person. Yes, their attitude. The other side to this coin, changing as we speak, is the opportunity to make a living wage for a good days work. The very idea of there being a class called the "working poor" does not sit right with me. The world has gained much wealth in the last few centuries. Bankers especially, do no more good, nor provide any more essential services than the rest of us. Somehow, this gaping and growing disparity in income and wealth is deemed acceptable by society. It is NOT acceptable. All honest workers participate in the creation of a better world. That we do not all share in this creation of wealth is a crime. There is too much suffering in this world by those who have given their agreed upon contribution. There is too much skimming of the profits by those who simply game the system. A sizable portion of the money in the global economy is going to banks and bankers. This is unfair and unsustainable. I'm trying to remember who it was who flipped over the tables of the money changers. The first thing a good education should teach us is that we are all worthy of the necessities of life. The second thing is that money creation is for the government to do to benefit their citizens, not a handful of bankers. Until people the world over understand the whole idea of how money is created we will be perpetuating a system that cannot stand, nor ever be fair. A good education must not only train people to get a job, it must instill in them the ability to make this world a better place. There are two sides to this coin. We deserve better.

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joeblow 1 year, 10 months ago

You make good points, but on the other side people have to learn to manage their resources and make better decisions as well. If the average Bahamian who starts work at 18 saved $250 monthly, by age 65 they would have over $112,000 saved without interest. Instead people have children before they are financially ready for them, they buy lunch everyday, buy cars, expensive cell phones and expensive weaves, never thinking about or planning for the future. It doesn't matter How much money you give a fool, they will squander it. People will buy what they want and beg for what they need! A part of education is learning responsibility and developing financial common sense as well!

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Porcupine 1 year, 10 months ago

I do not argue your points. I agree. Yet, the very system we ALL operate in is rotten to the core. The numbers suggest that it is beyond just taking responsibility for ourselves. Way too many are suffering. This need not be.

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DDK 1 year, 10 months ago

I believe the flipper of the money tables was Jesus Christ. Excellent points!

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 10 months ago

The system is NOT rotten ......... if you have money, name, and colour ..... three schools get over 80% of the results and the scholarships etc.

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Porcupine 1 year, 10 months ago

Otherwise, an excellent editorial.

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joeblow 1 year, 10 months ago

Bahamians by and large are reactive survivalists. Our leaders go through the motions without any real vision or plan beyond getting re-elected! Our people seldom plan 20 or 50 years ahead. We are reaping a whirlwind from poor choices, lack of discipline and wasted opportunities.

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banker 1 year, 10 months ago

Everything that Tim Rider said is true, but he didn't go far enough.

I remember Crisco Butt, the 2nd-most corrupt prime minister of the Bahamas genuinely perplexed when he lamented that "tiny St. Lucia has 2 Nobel Prize laureates and the Bahamas has none". The dim-witted, "soft", brain-dead moron couldn't figure it out.

We will not "Forward, Onward, Upward, Together" until: 1) We acknowledge our criminal first prime minister and publicly remove his name from our consciousness and seize the treasury money back from his family. 2) Acknowledge that the education system was corrupted by Loftus Roker and spend it back to first world status. 3) Jail anyone and everyone who got rich by being a Member of Parliament, and freeze and seize all of their assets, onshore and offshore. 4) Shut down the webshops, and freeze and confiscate the assets of the beneficial owners. 5) Disband the Christian Council. 6) Enact legislation to disband or limit union activity and put a legislative cap on salaries of union officials to that of their highest paid, dues-paying member. 7) Re-educate boys and girls as young as 8 years old about sex and single-motherhood, and re-introduce societal stigma to sweethearting and out-of-wedlock childbirth. None of this shiite that the baby is God's child who might grow up to be Prime Minister. 8) Legalise marijuana and free and pardon all of those who have been convicted under those retrogressive statutes. 9) Cut the civil service by three quarters and introduce technology to provide government services. 10) Diversify the economy by hiring foreigners to run our country. 11) Throw out the Bahamian dollar and get real money to run the country. 12) Ban the PLP and jail most of them under RICO laws -- Racketeering, Influence and Corruption and re-write history to show what a mess that those criminals have made of a beautiful country.

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Porcupine 1 year, 10 months ago

Banker, Your reply made my day. So long as there are enough honest, hard working radicals fighting for justice, we may stand a chance.

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Dawes 1 year, 10 months ago

All good ideas, unfortunately never to see the light of day, unless complete collapse occurs and whoever takes over after has the will to do what is needed. Though on the first point i disagree with some of it, agree with taking the money if obtained illegally.

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DDK 1 year, 10 months ago

11 out of 12! What currency do you suggest?

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OrdinaryMan 1 year, 10 months ago

banker - !!! Good to see you back, especially with your as-usual insightful observations about your beloved Bahamas.

Sigh. It's genuinely too bad you and a group of similar-minded Bahamians are not in charge of your country's future - seriously. Still, I hope your current professional sojourn is enlivening that practical, empathetic mind of yours. Perhaps the future holds a more engaged return to Bahama-land someday.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 10 months ago

What is the "educational status quo" of which the Editor (a white lady) speaks?????? That Massey report was skewed and not a valid or reliable study to base our educational system on in the first place. It only reinforced the existing educational status quo.

When we correctly define that term (educational status quo) in The Bahamas ........ then the conversation of educational reform can really begin.

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