The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - Address by Prime Minister Maurice Bishop
UNESCO Executive Board [8 September 1982]

Mr. President of the Executive Board,

Mr. President of the General Conference,

Mr. Director-General,

Distinguished Members of the Executive Board,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

First of all, Mr. President, let me tell you what a signal honour it is for me to be given this opportunity to address you in the name of the People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada and in the name of the People of Grenada.

The fact that I am here today also as the first Caribbean Prime Minister to pay an official visit to UNESCO will tell you something of the importance which we in Grenada and indeed we the people of the Caribbean and Latin America attach to the work of UNESCO under the inspired zeal and direction of our dear friend and eminent Director-General Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow.

It is only two months ago – in July – that my colleagues and I had the opportunity to welcome Mr. M’Bow to Grenada where we were able to learn at first hand some of the critical initiatives taken by UNESCO in important areas such as literacy, culture, education, communications, science and technology.

All of these initiatives, of course, have tremendous positive implications for us in Grenada, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Mr. M’Bow’s historic visit will long be remembered by all of us in Grenada.

THE MAIN QUESTION IS PEACE

Mr. President, we meet at a very dangerous period in the history of mankind, a time when the very survival of civilisation is threatened, when thousands of years of human progress and development can be destroyed in minutes if nuclear holocaust triumphs over human rationality.

For us, as it is for UNESCO, the preservation of peace in our world is the question of overriding importance, the number 1 agenda item, the indisputable imperative.

UNESCO, like all sane and rational forces in the world, recognises that there can be no educational, social, cultural or economic independence and development in an atmosphere of tension, conflict and intimidation.

We applaud your courageous and principled opposition to policies of military aggression.

Unhesitatingly, we support your Director-General’s recent appeal to all Governments of UNESCO member states as well as to all international organisations to protect the cultural landmarks of besieged Lebanon.

In our region, Grenada has pioneered the growing movement calling for the Caribbean to be declared, in practice, a zone of peace, independence and development and we have strongly supported various genuine peace initiatives advanced through the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement.

In the world, UNESCO has pioneered the struggle for a New International Information Order and for an end to war propaganda and the use of the mass media to promote chauvinism, racism, tensions and conflicts and to direct world public opinion along these dangerous and negative paths.

Mr. President, we submit that many of the distressing problems that afflict most of the world’s population – hunger, lack of culture, shortage of jobs, housing and proper health care, to name some – can be eased considerably if only a portion of the massive resources allotted to the arms race and military expenditures were destined instead for the well-being and progress of the world’s poor and disadvantaged.

Military expenditures absorb high-quality material and human resources from civilian industry, thus retarding its development and restraining the growth of socially useful labour productivity.

Likewise, military expenditures reduce employment possibilities especially in the area of social services and scientific research aimed at improving social services.

This emphasis on militarization also effectively means that tomorrow is in the hands of those who use science not for the development of futuristic blueprints that enshrine the sanctity of human life but of those who seek to negate man himself by creating for him the power of self-destruction.

Contemplate for a moment that the cost of one modern tank could pay for the construction of 1000 classrooms for 30,000 children in under-developed countries.

Staggering!

Or take the price of a Trident nuclear submarine which equals the cost of keeping 16 million children from under-developed countries in school for a year plus the cost of constructing 400 large living complexes, housing 2 million persons.

For this reason, among others, UNESCO, the U.N. and all peace-loving organisations and peoples of the world can always count on the fullest support of Grenada in the struggle for a guaranteed and stable peace.

THE GRENADA REVOLUTION

Mr. President, three and a half years ago when our people took freedom into their hands they inherited a dismal economic and social legacy left by the Gairy dictatorship, under-developed and even primitive productive forces, technological backwardness, rampant corruption, a colonial educational system, and a callous disregard for science and culture.

What we took over on March 13, 1979 was a country with no adequate infrastructure, with 40% unemployment generally and 70% among our women, with inflation running at over 30%, with large tracts of unutilized, fertile land, our major exploitable natural resource.

When the Grenada Revolution ended tyranny once and for all in our homeland it freed a brutalised, divided, demoralised people whose human rights has been thorough violated and whose collective cultural levels had been kept abysmally low by a tyrannical regime which valued mysticism over scientific planning, superstition and ignorance over enlightenment and knowledge.

The sovereign will of our people expresses in the popular Revolution of March 13, 1979 has therefore brought into focus a new cultural dynamic.

The Declaration of the Revolution while asserting the people’s right to a full life established guarantees for freedom of expression and artistic creation.

The progressive transformation of our political culture has created new conditions for broader participation and equal access in the creation and enjoyment of the products of culture.

Legislative measure, for example, have guaranteed the equality of woman in all area of national life, the rights of workers in economic management and union representation and popular ownership of the press as a means of mass education and an avenue for creative expression and national cultural development.

In the seminal challenge of national construction, we have set ourselves as a major priority the strengthening and expanding of our economy and to this end we have achieved modest success.

Although out economy is still dependently ties to the crisis-filled industrialised metropolitan countries it has been able to register a 9% cumulative growth rate over 3 years, reduce unemployment to the present levels of 22%, hold inflation at under 1%, increase capital investment from 8 – 109 (sic) million dollars in three years and begin improving and expanding such basic infrastructure as air and sea ports, roads, electricity, telephones and water distribution.

More and more, science and technology are being applied to agriculture and agro-industry.

Skills training programmes designed to raise labour productivity are in place.

Vital social services such as health and dental care and secondary education have been made free of charge to our people while housing subsidies for the poor have eased substantially the costs of building, repair and renovation.

1982 has been declared by our Government as the “Year of Economic Construction” and hence this has been the main focus of our national development efforts.

But for us development is not and cannot be merely an economic process.

It must also be cultural, educational and scientific and must assist in the social advancement of our people.

Mr. President, in this sense, our Revolution is the creative and historical action of our people, re-ordering our environment and is the process refashioning our own being and identity.

Measures such as the Centre for Population Education’s literacy campaign, the establishment of free secondary education, the construction of multi-purpose community centres, the creation of a National Council of Science and Technology, our total support for and encouragement to the cultural development and expression of our people, together with the legislative measured cited before and with the active participation and involvement of the people through their mass organisations and organs of popular democracy, serve to guarantee the right of all Grenadians to culture and the growth of cultural, political, social and economic democracy.

The result has been an upsurge in creative activity.

Today, the people are making poetry of their lives and aspirations.

Our youth and women are making contributions to the development of new cultural forms.

There has been a significant increase in reading and publishing, and a veritable explosion of popular democracy by the people through their monthly participation in parish and zonal councils, worker and farmer councils, and youth and women councils where every conceivable subject from the budget to bananas to basketball is discussed and examined.

Indeed, the essential principles guiding our cultural development revolve around culture as another discussion – a critical discussion – popular democracy, as a human right to be exercised by all, as an expression of national identity and sovereignty.

THE 5 PILLARS OF OUR EDUCATION STRATEGY

In the area of education, our perspectives are based on 5 main pillars:

(1) Continuous Education:

        In attempting to bring about this, we have:

- started the National In-Service Teacher Education Programme – NISTEP – aimed at providing professional in-service training to all unqualified primary school teachers;

- improved the teacher-pupil ratio from 1:51 to 1:30;

- started a programme of worker education at the workplace for all workers in the public sector and increasingly for workers in the private sector;

- established a number of skills training institutes and programmes for workers in agriculture, fisheries, tourism and the public service;

- launched a massive literacy campaign through our Centre for Popular Education – C.P.E. – as a result of which illiteracy is now down to less than 3% of our population.

(2) Education for All:

        In phase 2 of the C.P.E. programme, we hope over the next few years to bring some 10-12,000 of our people into adult education courses in English, Mathematics and basic sciences.

- We have also greatly expanded our pre-primary (for 3 to 5 year-old children) and day nursery facilities;

- making science and mathematics compulsory for all students;

- opening a number of new agricultural training centres and generally expanding the technical and vocational capacity of our people.

(3) Integration of school and community

This integration is being achieved through the formation of Community Education Councils (CEC’s) which have responsibility for school curriculum, assistance and general supervision of the schools and for preparing students for their eventual involvement in society.

As an example of their potential, I can point to the fact that in January 1980 the CEC’s repaired 66 primary schools over a two week period while all the primary school teachers in our country were involved in a National Seminar.

This resulted in a material saving of just under $2 million.

This integration is also being achieved through our Community School Day Programme (CSDP).

Through this programme, people from the communities in which schools are located go into the schools one day a week when the unqualified teachers are attending their NISTEP classes to teach the children different skills such as sewing, handicrafts, carpentry, and gardening, or to take them on educational sigh-seeing tours to places of interest in our country.

THE CRITICAL ROLE OF UNESCO

Mr. President, we have taken not of the Fact that ever since UNESCO made clear its support for a New International Information Order it has been the target of vicious attacks by the monopolists and the reactionary media barons who control the present flow of world information.

But the call for a New Informational Information Order, brought to world attention mainly through UNESCO initiatives, such as the historic [312-page] MacBride report, [known also as Many Voices, One World], has now solidly become an agenda item of the great international debates.

Your organization can count on Grenada’s fullest support in your pioneering and courageous attempts to make this call a living reality.

In the fields of science and technology, UNESCO has played a vital role in asserting the development imperative of expanding and democratizing these areas.

Your efforts to establish various funding mechanisms such as the International Fund for Science and Technology, whose objectives are to facilitate the more rational and just transfer of resources to under-developed countries, have been noteworthy and historic.

The struggle to democratise science and technology are inextricably ties to the struggles for new international economic and information orders.

From this platform, therefore, we want to urge the developed, industrialised countries that have not yet done so to make substantial contributions to these critical mechanisms.

In conclusion, Mr. President, our Government and people appreciate UNESCO’s past assistance to our educational pristine project and to our participation in Carifesta, the region’s major cultural event.

These UNESCO initiatives have opened up new vistas, new possibilities, new demands from our people, all of which can only be realised through further and expanded assistance to our region.

We look forward to further co-operation between ourselves in Grenada and in the region with UNESCO.

We recognise and applaud your organisation’s sensitive response to the needs of our America by the establishment of the Major Project in Education.

You can be assured of Grenada’s unqualified support for this project because the objectives of the major project are in concert with our Revolution’s goals of educational opportunity, improvement in the quality of education and democratisation of education.

We wish to suggest adoption of the concept of major projects in other pressing areas of human need that fall within UNESCO’s frame of reference since such mechanisms can assist greatly in promoting international understanding, co-operation, social progress and peace.

Indeed, Mr. President, Mr. Director-General, distinguished members of the Board, mankind needs several such major projects to ensure that the timetable of progress is advanced and that we enter the 21st century with the door behind us closed to poverty, illiteracy and disease.

Thank you very much.

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