The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - Education is Production Too!
[15 October 1981]

Address at the formal opening of the 1981-2 academic year, of the National In–Service Teacher Education Programme, Grenada Teacher’s College.

Comrades:

Approximately one year ago we gathered in this same place to participate in an event that is now part of the history of education in the Caribbean - the launching of a new concept of teacher education.

The NISTEP programme represents a fundamental departure from the tradition of teacher education that we have inherited in the English–speaking Caribbean.

There are two main differences.

One: for the first time in our history we have a situation where the vast majority of our school teachers are either trained or in training.

Two: this process of training does not, as in the past, remove the teacher from the day–to–day, practical situation of the classroom, the teacher remains a practising technician, even while in the process of upgrading his or her professional skills.

The NISTEP programme is a direct product of a process of consultation initiated by the Revolution.

In January 1980 all teachers in the primary and junior secondary sector were called together to reflect critically upon the education system inherited by the Revolution and to formulate directions for change.

One need that was expressed by teachers again and again, in discussion after discussion, in workshop and in plenary sessions, was the burning need for increased training opportunities for teachers.

You will undoubtedly recall that at this seminar the conclusions arrived at by teachers every day in their workshop sessions were carefully documented and afterwards disseminated to the schools.

You will also recall that the National Teachers’ Seminar was followed by a period of ongoing discussions with teachers in the redefinition of education in our country.

The launching of NISTEP just about nine [9] months after the initial consultation with teachers was the fruit of that democratic process, a process that is not limited only to the education system, but represents in fact a major feature of our Revolution.

EDUCATION AND PEOPLE’S DEMOCRACY

In 2˝ years of People’s Power, we have seen the growth of consultation with the people, a sacred principle of our Party.

In this period more and more of our people have become organized.

There has been a steady growth of membership in the mass organizations - women’s organizations, youth, farmers, workers, sporting and cultural organizations, and a corresponding increase in the activity of the masses: more community work than ever, a phenomenal increase in the number of teams competing in this year’s football league, a situation where a massive national programme like the distribution of milk is carried out not by paid Government employees, but by the mass organisations, the militant participation of our people in the defence of our country, so stirringly demonstrated in the successful manoeuvres held recently.

The steady increase in the membership of mass organisations, the increased activity of the masses, the growing consciousness of our people - all of this represents a broadening and deepening of popular participation.

Some of you will have heard of, or actually seen copies of a book (shortly to be launched) which is an excellent documentation and analysis of this process that is under way in Grenada.

Entitled ‘Is Freedom We Making’ - The New Democracy in Grenada and written by two outstanding comrades in the NISTEP programme, it represents the type and quality of material we would like to see not just read but used in our education system.

What has this new and popular democracy made evident?

(a)     It underscores the fundamental principle of our Party and Government, the involvement and presence of the people in all aspects of national development.

(b)     The replacement of old structures of privilege and elitism by new forms which allow the increasing participation of the people in the revolutionary process.

(c)     The involvement of the people increasingly calls for more, not less, education. This is why the Revolution moved in the first year to reduce secondary school fees from $37.50 to $12.50, and has not made Secondary Education free for all students.

          And this is also why the Revolution, in the past two and a half years, has provided over 300 scholarships for our youths to study at universities and technical institutions abroad.

          Popular democracy does not stand on the same ground as ignorance, myth and superstition.

          Genuine democracy - the ability to participate, and the exercise of that right - implies the right to information and the critical mastery of knowledge.

          That is why one of the slogans of the Revolution has been:

          Only an Educated and Productive People Can be Truly Free”

This close link between education and democracy is an obvious but profound one which can sometimes be overlooked, but which is important for you as educators to come to terms with.

Can villagers participate in the improvement and control of health standards in their communities if no Health Education is available to them?

Can parents contribute to and have a say in the education of their children if the people themselves are illiterate?

Can teachers perform at their best, and give our children what they truly deserve, without being trained for their profession?

Our emerging institutions of popular participatory democracy are also, for these reasons institutions of popular education.

Workers’ Councils, Zonal Councils, Women’s Councils are the practice of a new democracy.

Just over the last ten [10] days there have been one dozen meeting of zonal councils, parish councils and the other blossoming organs of popular democracy in the seven parishes.

Worker Education classes at work places and in the communities serve to deepen the collective consciousness of our people - who we are, where we have come from, where we are going.

Already, over 3000 of our workers, small farmers, women and youth are actively engaged in these classes throughout our country on a regular weekly basis.

We now have weekly classes in 65 work places and 30 communities and we confidently expect that these figures will double over the next six [6] months.

Our people as the makers of our history, not from the self–alienating viewpoint of imperialism, but from a point of view which affirms our right to self–determination, our proud spirit of resistance, our collective determination.

At the level of the formal system of education, we have spared no efforts to realize our basic goals.

Our Party has always upheld certain fundamental education principles:

(a)     EDUCATION, the right of all - a right not a privilege.

(b)     EDUCATION, a continuous and lifelong process.

(c)     EDUCATION, a key factor in the creation of the New Grenadian Man and Woman, aptly   summarized in the words of JOSE MARTI:

To educate is to prepare for life.

What have we done to implement these principles?

These three principles underlie all our efforts at developing a new education system.

The Centre for Popular Education [CPE] extends the right of education to all our citizens who have never before been able to take up this right.

It institutes the principle that one is never too old to learn, that education does not end at school–leaving.

Its basic conception is that the education of our working people is an urgent task of the Revolution, if we are to apply new levels of science and technology in the productive process of national development.

The dramatic increase in university and technological scholarships made available by the Revolution means that today in Grenada the children of the poor and working people who want to pursue higher studies an do so, at no cost to themselves, once they have the necessary qualifications.

In fact, it can truthfully be said that today there are more university places available than qualified nationals to fill them.

This situation is not likely to persist for a long time as the establishment of free secondary education for all will in turn make it possible for all university opportunities to be used.

Your own NISTEP is an excellent illustration of these three principles at work.

First, it has set aside the idea that only a small number of teachers with O’ Levels deserve to be trained for the job that they are doing.

It insists that all of our children deserve to be taught by trained teachers.

NISTEP, like all the other in–service training programmes established by the PRG, is based on the principle of continuous education - the need to consistently upgrade one’s level of competence in order to keep abreast of innovations and developments in a rapidly changing environment.

As teachers you are called upon to be active participants in the dynamic processes at work within the Revolution.

EDUCATION SHOULD SERVE THE BROAD MASSES

Whom and what should education serve? Whom and what has it served in the past?

I understand that in this first year of your training you have discussed this question.

You have seen that traditionally education served an elite, the ruling class.

It served, it reinforced a whole system of privilege and exploitation.

Today, teachers are understanding that education should be a part of the process of developing a free and just society.

Whom should education serve?

It should serve the broad masses of working people, the producers of wealth in the society.

What should education serve? It should serve the process of transformation from a colonial territory to a liberated, self–reliant nation.

EDUCATION IS PRODUCTION TOO!

In a modern education system, sisters and brothers, education must be related to production. There are a number of reasons why this must be so, and I would like to use this opportunity to highlight three of them.

Firstly, education must be related to production because production is the basis of any society.

For Grenada to survive, we must produce and for Grenada to grow, we must produce more.

Education is production too!

It is the worker in the cocoa, the nutmeg, the banana, in agro–industries, fisheries and tourism that produces the wealth of our country.

Without this basic production, Government would have no money with which to provide the health care, the roads, the social services and of course, the education of the people.

Since the development of our economy is and must the major goal of all Grenadians, education also must play its part in increasing production.

It is only as our economy develops that our education system itself can develop.

Do you realise, comrades, that the average age of our farmers is 62 and our agricultural workers 56?

If our economy is to grow, we must reverse this situation and encourage more and more of our young people t work at the land, our country’s true wealth.

Secondly, education must be related to production because the biggest problem facing our society at this time is the problem of unemployment.

We can no longer tolerate a situation in which our youths leave school clinging to certificates which make them feel that the only job possible to them is behind some desk.

We can no longer tolerate an education system where, as has been said so often before, a child can pass from kindergarten to university and never see a cocoa tree, or a banana, or a nutmeg.

Rather, our educational system must produce the skills that can be absorbed in our economy - we must produce the agriculturalists, the mechanics, the engineers, the hoteliers, the boat captains etc., that we need to man our agriculture, our agro–industries, fisheries and our tourism.

Equally important, education has the function of developing new attitudes to work, new values associated with productive labour.

Thirdly, education must itself be productive because education is a very expensive business.

Government expenditure on education increased from $8.8m under Gairy to $13.4m last year.

And next year, you can just imagine what the increase will be with education in the Secondary Schools being free to the students, and with the additional costs the Government will have to meet for salary increments, as well as for NISTEP increments for our teachers.

Think too of the future when we would have increased the number of students in our secondary schools from the present 40% to 100%!

Clearly, a country as poor as ours can only achieve these goals if the people who are receiving this education at the same time contribute to the cost of that education - if every school is doing something to teach practical skills and at the same time to earn some monies to support itself.

And this is why we attach such tremendous importance to the work–study approach to education in our country.

This is also why we attach such importance to the building of Community Education Councils, involving parents, teachers, students and the people of the community generally.

We recall with particular pride the concrete contribution made by communities all over Grenada in January 1980, when sixty–six [66] of our primary schools were repaired by volunteer labour, thus saving taxpayers well over a million dollars.

Heroic as that effort was, I must tell you that an even greater effort is now required, as our schools are at present in need of over $2˝ million worth of repairs.

We must now prepare ourselves to assist with the job of complete renovation which needs to be done.

So, comrades, our new education must be productive.

Education and production must come together.

And that must exist not only as a policy, but in practice in every one of our schools.

If the school has land, produce crops! If it has a fridge, produce sno–ices! If it has a kitchen, produce cakes!

At this point, I would particularly like to take the opportunity to congratulate the staff and teachers and students of the CSDP [Community School Day Programme] for the excellent handicraft they have produced and which I notice are on display and for sale at GRENCRAFT.

CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION AS THE BASIS FOR CURRICULUM

Comrades, just as the old colonial, exploitative system worked to oppress the people economically, using their sweat and labour for the purpose of brining profits and dividends to the European powers, so too the colonial education system warped and twisted the minds of the colonised people.

It imposed institutions upon our people that were not our own, but which were taken directly from London, Paris, or Madrid.

Perhaps the institutions which left the most permanent scars were those associated with Education.

For these institutions scarred the minds and assaulted the intelligence of our people and wore them down for centuries.

We were taught to look to Europe for the answers to all our problems.

Our own country was overlooked as we were taught to stare over the Atlantic Ocean to London for our political institutions, our drama and songs, our poetry and literature, in the same direction as the boats steaming north–eastwards full with our nutmegs, bananas and cocoa, which were carried to be sold in European markets for the benefit of European profits.

Economic and cultural imperialism became two sides of the same cloth.

So, as we in Grenada gradually build our economic independence an cut ourselves free from imperialist domination, we are gradually realising the need for a cultural independence.

We are building our own very unique democratic institutions alongside our new economic thrust into fisheries, agro–industries and diversified agricultural products.

Thus our EDUCATION SYSTEM and its CURRICULUM also need to be transformed.

We need to look to ourselves, our own land and people, to be the base of that body of knowledge and activity that takes place day–by–day in our classrooms.

THE SCHOOL MUST CREATE SOLUTIONS FOR THE PROBLEMS THAT SURROUND US

Everything we do at school must not only reflect the actual world we live in, it must create solutions for the problems which surround us and harass us, it must be a problem–solving curriculum which zooms in on us and our world, and no more lingers after Europe or North America.

A mathematics syllabus that gives our children the base for sciences that can exploit our natural resources, and gives us an apprenticeship in building our industries, and agro–industries; a language arts syllabus that teaches our children to love and respect their own people, their workers and farmers, to give words and meaning to their hopes and aspirations and the basis to understand, discuss and criticise the many dimensions of experience and development around them; a history syllabus that seeks to analyse the process of emancipation of our working people and the struggles they have fought over the years, and continues to link that with the struggles of working people all over the world, and a science syllabus which sets out to investigate the potential in our own land and people to establish an inventive, creative technology, whether it be bio–gas, beetle traps, new fishing techniques, the possibilities of hydro–electric power from our rivers or the development of new strains and flavours of our jams and nectars.

We need a curriculum to practically aid our liberation, not keep us dependent on outside powers that will do nothing but exploit us.

Remember, comrades, that the origin of culture itself is the land, the soil, the way we produce and feed ourselves, the way we survive and grow.

We need a school curriculum that points directly to those necessities, for if we do not start that process at school, our new generations will grown up ignorant and in capable of developing their greatest asset - the rich and fertile soil of our land.

A NEW TYPE OF TEACHER FOR THE NEW SOCIETY

When we use the slogan A New Type of Teacher for the New Society, what do we mean?

We would need to compare the way in which the teacher was told and expected to act under the colonial and neo–colonial systems, to the new opportunities for carving out a new model for the teacher in Revolutionary and Free Grenada.

Under the colonial system, the teacher, like the school, remained isolated and often alienated from the society he or she so much wanted to serve.

The school, and its Eurocentric core of knowledge, stood out like a fortress against the people, pumping out colonial images and values.

The teacher was forced to be a propagandist for the colonial system by virtue of the curriculum he had to teach, and thus often became bitter and felt abused and exploited.

And although our teachers often struggled relentlessly against this role carved out for them, the colonial grip on the economy and educational system of our country remained - although it often faltered through the live resistance of the people.

The teacher was seen as a keeper of knowledge, often like a “Knowledge Bank” that is closed to all new deposits.

He was though to be the expert who “knew it all” and could learn no more, particularly from his students.

He became an educational overseer of his working class pupils, one rung up the social ladder in relation to them, yet spurned and often laughed at by those more prosperous than he, those who had gone away and “made it.

The overall career objective was certification and because certificates were mainly to be found abroad and the higher salaries that went with them, the colonised teacher was racked with a certain kind of consciousness: the visa mentality, with his body in Grenada, but his mind half in Brooklyn, or London or Toronto.

And because he was seen as an intellectual worker, he divorced his classroom work from physical work, seeing the school as a place solely for the head and not for the hand, brainwork not work with the hand or the arm.

And although, very ironically, at home he might work his own garden on a daily basis, at school he would not lift a single chair or turn over one sod of earth, for the school was entirely separate from physical productive work on the land.

So how does the “new teacher” differ?

The new teacher espouses physical work, welcomes the idea of production in his school.

He is the first to pick up a cutlass or a hoe.

He is no longer an individualist, a king or queen in the classroom with his kingdom of knowledge.

He is a collective planner, organising lessons with his colleagues.

She is a classroom democrat, encouraging the participation and initiatives of her students.

For him, certification is less important then being useful and relevant to his students.

He believes strongly in discipline but not that of the urine–soaked strap, which carries with it the memories and historical brutality of colonialism.

He believes in disciplinary codes and structures that foster criticism and self–criticism, encouraging the participation of the students themselves in the resolving of their own problems.

Thus he would give full encouragement to student councils, and their parent body, the National Student Council - yet more democratic creations of our Revolution.

The new teacher is deeply embedded in the life of his community.

He takes a leading part in the formation and oranisation of the new organs of democracy that are blooming throughout Grenada.

She works in the C.P.E., he helps organise the Workers’ Parish Council, the Pioneers or the N.Y.O. She is active in the N.W.O. and the Militia.

He lends his skills of organization and discipline to the community, always seeking to raise the level of connection between the school and the community groups.

She is a student and scholar of her community - as your own Community Studies have shown - and seeks to develop a profound and detailed understanding of its proceeds and history, as well as dynamising its future.

The teacher systematically, through his active participation in community life and programmes such as the C.S.D.P., knocks down the walls and barriers that colonialism erected between the school and the people.

The new teacher knows that the school is not an island in the community, neither must it be barricaded away from the people whom it serves.

It must be the focus of the community, the communal meeting house, the nursery of the local groups of the mass organisations, religious and community groups, or any group of social, educational or cultural nature.

It must be open to all, it is a people’s resource, and the more it is used the better it would be for the community.

However, because it is the people’s property it must be loved and cared for, it must be maintained, cleaned and treated with the respect and value that all collective property deserves.

But we are saying that we view with great concern the actions of any principals or boards who attempt to cut off access to the schools to the people or groups in their community.

In our anxiety to save the wear and tear of our school buildings, we should not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of treating our buildings in the same way as some of our older folk used to treat their new hats or shoes.

All of us would remember the days when our parents or grandparents would buy a new hat or a new paid of shoes, and then take hem off when rain started to fall, and got a soaking as a result!

EDUCATION AND INTERNATIONALISM

Finally, comrades, let us say that although we see the basis of education developing our own land, our own people, our own reality here in Grenada and turning aside from the mimickry of London or New York, we are also fundamentally internationalists.

Our revolution is a part of the international march of progress of working people, and our schools must reflect and affirm this.

We are not only an island, we are part of a region, a part of a continent, a part of a world.

If there are people like ourselves, working people who are oppressed and suffering, we must know about them, we must understand that the same enemy, Imperialism, is attacking them and us, and our children too must share that knowledge in our schools.

Our children are flowers of our Revolution, but they are also flowers of the world.

Our children must know, for example, that just as we were being threatened a few weeks ago by massive American military manoeuvres on the Isle of Vieques, near Puerto Rico, the fishermen of Vieques, deprived of their livelihood and suffering from the same threats and tyranny as we were, were making their own protests.

One Vieques comrade fisherman, put in jail in Miami for his courage, tragically hanged himself in his cell as his suffering was so great.

We can understand that man’s desperation, comrades, because he shared with us that same hatred of domination and military arrogance that robbed him of his land and seas and threatened to rob us of ours too.

Our children must know such things, discuss such things.

When we study geography, let us also study the human geography of our comrade workers and fishermen in Vieques or anywhere else in the world where our classroom concentration falls.

Or let us consider Southern Africa, for I see you have mounted a small exhibition of photographs here in the college, explaining the depicting the terrifying reality of the racist apartheid system in South Africa.

Do our children know what apartheid is, how it presses down upon every aspect of the lives of the South African children so powerfully expressed in those photographs?

When they read or hear about sporting boycotts of South Africa, or the tools of racism like Kallicharran from our own region, serving the racists, do they understand in their brains and on their pulses what that treachery means to the people of South Africa?

Do they understand what it means to the survivors of murdered families of the massacres of Northern Angola or the patriots behind the wire and the slaughtered heroes of Namibia occupied by the racist forces since 1918?

We must teach them these things, comrades, our children have a right to know the life of their brothers and sisters all over the world, in the same way that those children in other countries have the right to know about us and our history and our Revolution, as our progress here can give them the inspiration and hope that may eventually help to make their own triumph and victory.

In the same way, comrades, we can learn from and take courage from the insights and discoveries that have emerged through the successful struggles of our comrades in other lands.

Remember how the JAMAL [Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy] literacy programme in Jamaica and the insights of Paulo Freire, a Brazilian, and also the Cuban experience of literacy campaigns all contributed to the development of our C.P.E. here?

And then remember that our successful C.P.E. programme immediately dispatched two young Grenadian volunteers to help our Nicaraguan comrades with their literacy campaign there.

Internationalism is not just a word or a blank concept, it is an active, living, expanding energy, just like the massive growth of our own International Airport, nurtured by the internationalist comradeship of Grenadian and Cuban workers working side–by–side.

That is the truth that must come home to our children in the schools.

And let us finally consider internationalism as it affects NISTEP.

Look at your tutors: you have Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, New York, Kansas City, London - all represented here, a pooling of solidarity and expertise from many origins.

Yet another example of how Revolution and internationalism are inseparable components of one and the same process.

Comrades, I want to close by re–emphasising the idea that Education is Production Too.

All through our history we have produced teachers, and students who have tried, despite the walls of prejudice and domination put up against them, to serve our people, and put their skills and scientific and human learning at the service of our struggling country.

These teachers have produced us, and given us the opportunity to continue the work which they achieved, and pass our strengths on to our own children.

They were the producers too, producers of knowledge and progress and it is these educators that we shall soon be recognising and honouring, together with our most outstanding students, on the 29th of October.

LONG LIVE THE NATIONAL IN–SERVICE TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMME!

ALL POWER TO THE NEW TEACHERS OF GRENADA!

FORWARD TO EDUCATION FROM THE CRADLE TO THE GRAVE!

FORWARD EVER, BACKWARD NEVER!


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