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Bishop Speech - "EMULATION IS THE SEED THAT BRINGS THE FRUIT OF EXCELLENCE," address at National Emulation Night (For Outstanding Students and Educators) at The Dome, St. George's

(29 Oct 1981)

Comrades,

Our Revolution has already proved to be a Revolution of real deeds and actions. As we look around us and see the transformations actually in process, we can be in little doubt of that. But have you also ever thought of the new words we have brought into public and popular use, words which express ideas and ways of acting and organizing that were completely unknown to our people before the Revolution?

One such word, which expresses a totally new concept that the last two years have brought alive for Grenadians is emulation. We have seen this emulation in action in the Centre for Popular Education, in the National Women's Organization, in the National Youth Organization, in the Pioneers and National In-Service Teacher Education Programme.

How many of us had previously counted this word in our active vocabularies before the Revolution? Now we meet it as a common word on the lips of our people all over Grenada. And through our actual practice of the process of emulation we are learning what exactly the word means. For it means we are recognising the best among us, not to glorify them personally, but to raise the collective level of consciousness and production. And in doing that, Comrades, we are automatically drawing comparisons between the stronger and weaker aspects of our national life, stimulating a sense of the value of criticism and self-criticism, identifying and analysing our problems, and as a result, creating the resolve to move forward.

For in those old colonial and neo-colonial days, the recognition of excellence only came about as a result of individual contest and the result of the dog-eat-dog competition on which the colonial economy, and thus its social values, were largely built. But the old concepts of competition were built around the dominance of the individual over his peers, where separate competitors used each other's heads as rungs in a ladder. The new concept of emulation gives us models and symbols for inspiration, increases the group effort and production drive - and thus contributes to nation-building and the construction of our economic and political independence.

IMPORTANCE OF EMULATION

In emulation we will recognise individual achievement and progress, but our cause is different. The individual is a participant, a contributor to our new society, and we recognise him or her for that contribution, and not to exalt individualism for its own sake. Education, - as we have been saying with some regularity of late - is production too! Teaching and studying are both arms of production. The teacher is producing young workers, patriots and intellectuals who will become our scientists, our engineers, our agro-industrialists,, our agricultarists (sic), our administrators, our technicians of the future.

The student is producing in himself or herself the capacity to conquer and transform nature by knowledge he or she develops, the capacity to solve the myriad of material problems which beset and harass our people; and the capacity to produce the wealth and riches from the soil, which can offer our people a new life which will realize all their vast and beautiful potential. our teachers and students are producers too, and it is in their ability to produce that they will best serve our people. Teacher and student together are planting seeds for the future - they are part of that same future and clearly there should be no antagonism or contradiction between them.

In the People's Republic of Mozambique, a country which shares many concrete problems with us, and whose government also shares a strong commitment to the principles of emulation, there is a simple poem, written by an ordinary worker for other teachers, which begins to illustrate what emulation is all about. I want to read a section of that poem for you. It starts this way:

IF YOU PUT TWO SEEDS INTO THE GROUND,
I'LL PUT THREE - TO SEE IF YOU'LL PUT FOUR,
SO THAT I'LL PUT FIVE IN AFTERWARDS
IN THE CHALLENGE OF EMULATION.

With that attitude, Comrades, we could see the kind of harvest we could reap! We are recognising the excellence around us in the sphere of Education tonight, so that the seeds that have been planted in our schools and colleges by our comrade teachers and students will be doubled, trebled, quadrupled over the next year - the first year in our history when secondary education will be free for our students so that we would all taste the fruit of that harvest! And when our students return from their higher studies to fully integrate themselves and their expertise into our economy and national development, they too will increase our production, teach and in spire others and produce yet greater harvests in the future years.

That is the whole point of emulation, Comrades, it is not static recognition, it pushes our process forward, it is the very motor of our advance. It challenges and motivates us at every juncture. That is why we have put so much importance upon it and that is why it is one of the constant and recurrent themes of our Revolution. It is much more than a new word adopted by our people! It is a characteristic and a watchword of our unity and progress.

It is also in a way a strange contradiction, that in our national embrace of the idea of emulation, we are seeking - and quite definitely finding - excellence and extraordinariness in the ordinary. We are discovering in the hardened agricultural workers, in the disciplined fisherman, in the industrious teacher, in the skilful carpenter, the conscientious mason, an excellence that has never before been recognised and acclaimed in our country, although, of course, it always existed, it was always there.

We can remember awards and scholarships for a tiny elite in the days that are gone - do you remember those Island Scholars who went away every year and just about never came back? And we were told that excellence was the property of the few, the monopoly of the privileged and the fortunate. It was a badge that separated the powerful from the mass of the people.

Now we are discovering through our emulation processes that excellence truly belongs to the masses, to the ordinary people - to the twelve year old boy in Carriacou who is an exemplary literacy volunteer, to the seventy-one year old woman in Carriacou, who is his exemplary students and at that age learns how to read and write for the first time in her life - and as soon as she achieves that she sets about reading information that will tell her how to more effectively fertilise the soil of her backyard garden so that it will produce more food.

Excellence also belongs to the worker on the cocoa estate who, with extraordinary creative insight and mental stamina, discovers a simple device to catch pests that have for generations devoured the products of his land, to the unemployed sisters who unleash the expertise hidden inside themselves to start and develop their own co-operative bakery. This is the spirit of excellence in our working people that has been unlocked through the recognition of their power and inventiveness by themselves and their fellow Comrades. All this energy has been set free by our national grasp of emulation, the same spirit of emulation and recognition of the excellence amongst our people that we are sharing in tonight.

EMULATION AT THE WORK-PLACE

Having considered some of the main features of emulation, let us now look practically at how emulation can assist us in our efforts to develop our country. Most importantly, of course, emulation is vital to the development of production - to the development of our agriculture, our agro-industries and our tourism. Though some elements of an emulation system have already started - you will remember that last year we had a 'Worker of the Year' for the first time in our country - there is still need for much more development. Let us take the example of how emulation might work on one of our Government Farms:

Firstly, for an emulation system to be set up, management and workers would have to come together and examine all the information about the farm - how many acres it has, what crops it now grows, how much profit it now makes. Having done this, workers and management would have to agree on production targets on the farm, and each worker would have his own personal target at which to aim. This process is important not only because it would clearly result in an increase in production, but also because by being involved in all this the worker would at the same time be raising his educational and cultural level and also effectively become part of the management of the farm.

Secondly, for a successful emulation programme the workers and management would have to examine together the way in which things are organized on the farm and to look to see what can be done to improve it. They may discover for example, that you do not really need four people to do weeding - three can do that, but the group doing drainage can use one more because maybe the ground keeps a lot of water in it, bogging down the plants. This again would mean that each and every worker would be participating in the discussion of what is going on in the farm. Each worker would know why his own work is important and why the whole farm will suffer if one person falls down in his task.

Thirdly, a successful emulation programme would mean that when the crop and the targets are examined, the people to be emulated would not be big shots or people with money or degrees from fancy universities - it would be the ordinary worker himself. It would be an ordinary worker like "Coonyah" - our worker of the year 1980 - who through his invention of the improved beetle trap was able to remove a particularly destructive pest on the Marlmount Farm and therefore contribute to increasing production. It would be the ordinary worker who would be getting the medal and whom everybody would be applauding and recognising. Think of how important such a person would feel and how many other people could be spurred on knowing that if they too increased their efforts, the next time it could really be them up there receiving the recognition.

Firstly, and most importantly of all, Comrades, the workers must know that when they increase their efforts the people to benefit will not be some small group of people in St. George's who want to drink Champagne and entertain their friends at Evening Palace. The people to benefit will firstly be the teachers themselves because through profit-sharing they will be able to get their piece of the increased profits to take home, and secondly the nation as a whole will benefit because when the state farms make more money, the Government will have more to spend on free health care, on free milk distribution, and on better education of our children, so that more and more of them can achieve the kind of success like those being emulated here tonight.

Comrades, just as it serves to dynamise the process of production and self-management, emulation can play, and ought to play, a central role in the transformation of education. In every major area of the life of the school and the educational life of the nation as a whole, we must move to establish emulation. Emulation in education must exhort our youth to learn more and study better. It must urge greater participation and broader organization of the student body - in every school there must be a vibrant Student Council sharing responsibility for the efficient running of the school, Sporting Clubs, Debating Societies, Agricultural Associations, Cultural Groups, Pioneers, and contributing to the patriotic and full development of character. Emulation in education contributes also to the better administration of the school because it sets standards for the pursuit of excellence, it requires continuous assessment, it evaluates the main activities of the school.

Within the educational system, emulation on the one hand recognizes achievement, uses these as the measure for higher collective and individual standards and on the other hand, evaluates and criticizes, identifies shortcomings, encourages and motivates to resolve these difficulties. In short, emulation in our educational system is about challenging student and teacher to new levels of achievement, greater discipline and more initiative.

CONCRETE SUCCESSES OF EMULATION

Those of you, parents, teachers and undoubtedly many youths here who attended the Emulation Celebration of the National Youth Organization Youth Camp, 1981 will recall the extraordinary enthusiasm of the youth, their intense spirit of price, their militant participation of the Heroes of the Homeland Manoeuvre. Never before in our history has such enthusiasm been demonstrated by the youth of our country. Yet this enthusiasm was not a mood which mysteriously and spontaneously appeared - it was in large part of the result of emulation. The leaders of Youth Camp 1981 have an instructive story to tell about what was described as 'the total youth experience'.

The first two weeks of Camp 1981 was a difficult period for them because it involved the setting up of camp structures, the organization of the youth in the many camp activities and the establishment of discipline. By the end of this period, the camp leadership was totally exhausted. Comrades were literally falling asleep in the middle of meetings. They were almost defeated because they - a small leadership sore - had taken on single-handedly the task of organization and discipline. Given the history and characteristics of our youth, the answer to these difficulties had to be one which challenged the youth to new standards of discipline and participation. The 'magic' word was emulation!

A thorough system of emulation coverall all the major aspects of camp life was put into effort, and one week later the situation in all camps had qualitatively changed. Youths who were refusing to wake up at 5.00 a.m. for camp assembly and Physical Training were now the first in the assembly area! Friendly competition, (one of the three ingredients of emulation) between brigades gave a new sense of purpose, challenged the youth to improve their individual performance as a contribution to the success of their brigade and on a wider scale, the success of their camp.

The more disciplined youth criticised and helped (a second main ingredient of emulation) the less disciplined members of their brigade to improve themselves. Discipline was no longer supervision from the top but encouragement/criticism/supervision by fellow brigade members. Competition was transformed from the virtues of selfishness to one of working together, struggling together. The excellence of a brigade or camp gave honour to all of its members and the outstanding individuals within it were symbols of that price and honour - they set the example of the best. And for this were recognized and awarded (a third major ingredient of emulation).

In this great challenge of emulation, youth who (because they had never been provided with such a challenge) would not ordinarily have been viewed as outstanding were able to unlock new founts of creativity, a deep sense of responsibility and receive higher levels of training (a fourth main ingredient of emulation). In two camps in particular, Camps Che and Fedon, among those emulated were harbour boys and former "delinquents". They, faced with this challenge, had earned the respect of their peers by their performance.

The experience of the National Youth Organization Camp 1981 and the results of their emulation programme have direct implications for our educational system because it demonstrates concretely the possibilities and the value of emulation among our youth.

During the literacy campaign, we again saw the value of emulation in education. The Centre for Popular Education parish emulation activities played a valuable role in changing the public understanding of the nature of illiteracy. For the CPE students themselves, it raised both their continuing confidence to develop their literacy skills and to apply and practise them consistently, thus consolidating their strengths. Some of our CPE students spoke out publicly with new pride and determination in speeches which they made for our emulation ceremonies.

Likewise, the National Women's Organization, through emulation techniques of setting specific goals - in their case 5,000 members by the end of 1981 - sought to rapidly increase their membership. What the sisters found was that because this goal was met over two months before its deadline (in fact on 23rd October) they had to provide a supplementary goal of 3,000 more members before the end of the year; thus setting a new overall target of 8,000 members by the end of 1981! The emulation process had been so successful that it was necessary for them to produce a secondary goal - a fifth main ingredient of the emulation system - to retain the massive momentum that the membership drive had generated amongst women throughout our country.

Thus, Comrades, we can see from the National Youth Organization Camp that emulation produced a huge qualitative improvement in the discipline and organization of the camp, and thus in the consciousness of the youth themselves, and from the National Women's Organization membership drive, it is clear that the quantitative results had an equal burst forward, due to the use of strategies of emulation by our sisters.

Through emulation, through the system of friendly competition to achieve agreed targets with mutual assistance and friendly cooperation, with due recognition for achievement, with more training to achieve skills, know how and greater efficiency and through the additional or supplementary targets once the original targets have been reached, a dramatic increase in productivity, efficiency and performance can demonstrably be achieved in our country in all spheres.

THE ROLE OF EDUCATORS

Comrades, when we speak in terms of production and emulation among teachers, what do we mean? We mean that we are recognising models who will inspire us in our own daily work, models who will serve as examples for us today in our schools in every village of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique.

As a model, I can think of no better an example than F.F. Mahon, am ex-principal of River Sallee Government School. This ordinary, yet extraordinary man was principal of this school for forty-two years, from 1888 to 1930. Just reflect on the years he lived through, Comrades, the years he worked through, a term of principalship longer than the lives of the majority of us here, including myself.

Think of the thousands of children through that period who passed under his tutelage and care! All from the same village and its surroundings! Think of how many working hands and brains he nurtured and produced, how many skills he made sharp and useful, how many ideas he started ticking.

Can you imagine such dedication over the fantastically long period of forty-two years? If you can, then you would have some idea of the massive achievement and great merit of Brother F.F. Mahon of River Sallee.

And yet, after his retirement in 1930, in fact precisely four days after his retirement he died. That fact, of course, puts both his sacrifice and his example into even sharper perspective. Here was a teacher whose entire working life was dedicated to the uplifting of the intelligence of a single one of our villages. When we look for heroes of production among our teachers, as among our other workers, we can see Brother Mahon shining like a star.

And yet Comrades, let us note, this man held no degree from Oxford, Cambridge, New York or Washington. This man had published no esoteric thesis on who-knows-what academic topic. He was no Professor or Dean of Students or member of some elite scholarly society.

He was a simple, ordinary, elementary school principal in a small village of our country. It is for that fact we remember him and take such value in his example. And it is for his selfless service and dedication that we honour him, for his huge contribution to the production of our country, and thus our present and future, that we recognise him tonight.

I have selected Brother F.F. Mahon to concentrate upon for what I hope are fairly obvious reasons. His life ended when he ceased being a teacher. His career was exemplary, and as such a mirror of emulation for all of us. In hie image, as teachers and workers, we look at ourselves and our own worth and we measure our own contributions and standard. If we do not measure up to him, let us try, let us drive ourselves to reach his excellence - not just as individuals but as a united and organized body. If we all put in even half of his service, think how our country would grow, would bloom, would blossom.

But we are talking about emulating the brother, of doing so well or even better than he did - do you see how far we have to reach, Comrades? Think how the man must have resisted and put aside the temptation to emigrate and abandon his school and his pupils - for if we study our history carefully we would know how common a feature constant emigration has been for our people, and in particular for our teachers. It is clear that his village was no prison to him, it was his venue for performance and for achievement. For there was nothing small about the man F.F. Mahon - clearly, he was professionally a giant and a very sincere and dedicated human being.

Neither is there anything insignificant about spending a working life serving the people in a village like River Sallee. For any community where people live, produce and love each other is a theatre of achievement and great human deeds. And once they are performed, in the spirit of emulation, they drive us forward and inspire us towards further excellence in the same - and in other new and transformed venues - which we must build for ourselves.

Thus, we recognize the F.F. Mahons of our country not as mere excellent individuals to extol their virtue and say how different they are from the mass of our people, but we recognise them instead as symbols to show how much common, genuine and patriotic commitment exist among all our working people, in particular, tonight, our teachers, if only they would realize it and exercise it to the full, like the brothers and sisters we are honouring through this event.

May I say that while F.F. Mahon has been singled out for particular mention, that the enormous contribution of other greats such as J.W. Fletcher, F.H. Ireland, P.I. Taylor, (all immortalised tonight by the 'O' level gold, silver and bronze awards) and other outstanding educators listed in the programme and written about in your profile are worthy of special praise and recognition. In fact, I want to emphasise that while we are not about the task of singling out or over-singling out specific individuals, these greats do indeed deserve a special place in the history of education in our country. And it is for this reason that I give them special and particular mention.

And because people should be recognized while they are alive, may I also repeat the names of the living greats who all came on stage earlier? Mr. C.A. Martineau, Mr. Cresswell Julien, Mrs. Maude De Coteau, Mr. H.D. Baptiste, Mr. R.O. Palmer, Mr. Renalph Gebon - these outstanding educators stand as a living tribute to the work of our professional educators over the years. May we once again recognize them.

ROLE OF THE CHURCH

The history of education in our country, as in the rest of the Caribbean is a history of partnership between Church and State.

The churches we must recognize were the pioneers of education in the Caribbean. Formal education can be said to have begun when missionaries came to christianize African slaves. Then when slavery was abolished and the colonial government decided that it should do something about educating the black population, they simply gave the job to the missionaries. The money allocated for education (The Negro Education Grant as it was called) was handed over to the Churches. That was in 1835.

It was the beginning of a partnership that can be likened to the traditional marriage contract - the Church looking after the children and the State providing the money. It is not much different today.

The alliance between Church and State did not produce an education system that was as egalitarian as Jesus Christ Himself would have designed, because the Church had to work within the context of a state that did not wish its citizens to develop any fancy ideas about the equality of human beings. Today one o f our tasks is to combat the legacy of elitism in education - to create equality of opportunity, to make the highest quality education available to every single citizen, all the way from pre-school to tertiary.

In this endeavour, and in all of our efforts to change the education system for the better, we rely upon the collaboration of the Church. Indeed, today's partnership between Church and State in Grenada must certainly be a more comfortable one for the Church than the historical situation where it had to be the accomplice of slavery, of colonial exploitation, and of one generation of naked political repression: the regime of Eric Matthew Gairy.

As we honour the contribution that the Church has made in the past to education, we look forward to a deepening relationship between Church and State in the task of educating all of the citizens for a better future and to an even greater sharing of Church and school facilities.

In the secondary sector the role of the Church is particularly note-worthy. As you know, in our history, the Church had massively outstripped the colonial state in the provision of facilities for secondary education. In fact, the great majority of the teachers and students being honoured here tonight are from schools set up by religious bodies.

We know that the educators who are the heart and soul of these institutions welcome the advent of free secondary education and support the goal of secondary education for all. We know that you will warmly receive every new secondary school into the fold. We know that the old Church schools will combat, vigorously, any tendency on the part of any section of our society to view your schools as elite or prestige institutions and the newer schools as second best, as had happened, unfortunately, in several of our sister Caribbean territories.

In Fact, we are extremely proud to report that here in Revolutionary Grenada this trend has not shown any sign of emerging. The proof of this is that in the short space of one year, the Bernadette Bailey Secondary School, the school of the Revolution, has established such a high reputation that in the placing of secondary common entrance candidates this year, this new school was the choice of an overwhelming number of parents and students.

A SALUTE TO THE OUTSTANDING

Sisters and brothers, Comrades, I want to end these remarks by congratulating all of our award winners - the students, those who received School Leaving prizes, common entrance examination prizes, those who received awards for being outstanding performers in the field of sports, those who received awards for making the most vibrant contributions to their school. I especially offer my congratulations to those who received the Fletcher, Ireland and Taylor fold, silver and bronze medal awards for "o" level results, the PRG gold, the PRG silver and the PRG bronze medal awards for outstanding "A" level results.

I also congratulate the thirteen schools that received awards tonight and the educators - those who have passed on and those who fortunately are still here with us and whom we feel confident will be around for a long time to come.

May I also extend congratulations to the Ministry of Education for the excellent work that they have been doing over these two and a half years. But, most of all, I congratulate and salute tonight all of our hard-working and courageous students who over the years, not just the past two and a half years, but over the past decade in particular, have engaged in consistent struggle to ensure that their own educational standards were maintained and uplifted, while at the same time being engaged in the forefront of the struggle for a new and just society.

EMULATION WILL BRING EXCELLENCE

Comrades, as Comrade Didacus Jules, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, has indicated this will be an annual ceremony. We hope that through this annual emulation, all students and educators will reach an even greater excellence through setting targets, competing with each other in friendly competition, assisting, helping and cooperating with each other and ensure higher standards through greater training.

We also hope that this emulation exercise will oblige our students and educators to keep setting new targets as their original targets are achieved. We must recognize and never forget that it is only the best among us who set targets as most of us live from day to day, most of us do not have a weekly or a monthly or yearly plan - some do not even have an hourly or daily plan. The business of setting targets is a serious business that only the more serious, disciplined and conscious among us undertake.

But it is one thing to set targets, it is another thing to reach those targets. And if it is true that only the best set targets and the very best reach those targets, then it must be even more true that it is only the super-best who having set targets and reached these targets then go on to set additional or supplementary targets. It is these standards of the super-best that we must all aim to achieve. It is those super-heights of excellence that this system of emulation is hoping to spur all of our students, all of our educators, all of our workers, all of our farmers, all of our women, all of our youth, all of our people to reach as we move rapidly towards building the new and just Grenada.

LONG LIVE THE STUDENTS OF GRENADA!

LONG LIVE THE MEMORY OF OUTSTANDING DECEASED EDUCATORS!

LONG LIVE THE WORK AND CONTRIBUTION OF LIVING EDUCATORS!

LONG LIVE THE SYSTEM OF EMULATION!

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