The Grenada Revolution Online

Learning Together, Building Together
[27 July 1980]

A Radio Free Grenada broadcast to declare the opening of the literacy campaign.

From the earliest months of our glorious 13 Revolution, the People’s Revolutionary Government has stressed the importance of bringing education to all our people and of putting an end to illiteracy in our country.

We have placed heavy emphasis on education as a tool for national development. In keeping with this emphasis, the Ministry of Education had established many areas for priority action.

From these early months, we have seen some of the results of this work—the lowering of school fees, the granting of more scholarships in the first year of People’s Power than the preceding five years put together, the introduction of a school feeing programme; the beginning of the process of consultation and discussions among teachers of the major problems of the education system, the beginning of work in a new curriculum, the School Repair Programme etc.

All of these areas of activity in education are directed by one fundamental principle: that education is the right of all our people, the responsibility of our Revolution and a key to the development of our country.

Undoubtedly, among all the initiatives and programmes of the Ministry of Education, the Centre for Popular Education is one of the most important and fundamental.

The C.P.E. is a critically important programme because through the C.P.E., education which was previously a privilege for a minority will not be the right of all our people.

Through the C.P.E. we are beginning the long and difficult, but vital, task of providing education for our working people—many of whom were not able to receive an adequate education for a multitude of reasons most of which relates to poverty and our colonial experience of exploitation.

The Revolution has given high priority to education because we clearly understand and recognise that is we are to bring an end to all of the serious problems that we face, education must enable us to confront these problems.

If we are to end unemployment, poor housing etc., we will have to increase our levels of production by working harder, using more scientific methods of production and using higher forms of technology, and the education of workers is an important dimension in this process.

If we are to defeat disease and poor health conditions, we need to understand their causes and conditions.

If we are to over come backwardness and poverty, we need to understand the nature of poverty and exploitation.

If we are to overcome superstition, we need to be able to read and write, to understand in a scientific way the environment in which we live.

If we are to continue to struggle against our number one enemy—imperialism—we need to understand its nature.

For our own sakes, in our own interests, we need to understand the enemy we are fighting. We need to understand the vicious nature of imperialism so tragically illustrated in the cowardly and murderous bomb blast of June 19 [1980].

Our struggle against imperialism and our struggle to build a new Grenada, is a struggle on many fronts in which every patriot and revolutionary has a role to play.

We have fought and continue to fight for better terms of trade, better prices for our agricultural produce so that our farmers and agricultural workers can enjoy greater benefits. Education is a tool for understanding this struggle.

Two years after they had removed the tyrant Batista from power, the revolutionary people of Cuba undertook one of the most heroic battles in their history—the battle against illiteracy.

In one year, this firm and united people were able to teach one million thirty-two thousand eight hundred and forty-nine Cubans to read and write.

In other words, sisters and brothers, the youth, students, workers and women of Cuba were able, in this short period of time, to teach one out of every four Cubans to read and write.

This was a massive and democratic task undertaken by the people to solve one of the major problems of the people. The Cuban literacy campaign was a voluntary task enthusiastically executed by free men and women our of a deep and patriotic desire to build their country, their revolution and to help their countrymen.

It was a stirring challenge posed by the Revolution and answered by thousands of students and workers. The youngest volunteer teacher in the Cuban literacy campaign was only eight years old and the oldest student was a woman of 106 years who had been born and grew up as a slave.

In the process of the literacy campaign, the Cuban youth and students learnt much more than they taught, the workers received more than they gave. It was far more than an educational exercise. It was a profound human process through which the Cuban people began to know themselves.

Students from the cities, by living with the peasants they taught, began to understand (in a manner in which no book could have taught them), the meaning of poverty, the meaning of hard work and sacrifice and the dignity of honest work.

In Nicaragua since the overthrow of the dictator Somoza, one of the immediate objectives of the Sandinista Revolution has been to teach Nicaraguans to read and write.

One out of every two Nicaraguans cannot read and write, and in some parts of Nicaragua there is 90% illiteracy. The military and revolutionary sons of Sandino are fighting this battle against illiteracy and have rightly called their literacy crusade “the awakening of the people”, because they clearly understand that to teach the people to read and to write is to free the people from ignorance, superstition and cultural backwardness.

It is to release the creative and revolutionary potential of the people so that they can continue to be the authors of their history and destiny.

In the past couple of months since the literacy crusade began, about one hundred and eight thousand Nicaraguans have been taught to read and write.

That—sisters and brothers is the population of our entire country. Can we imagine about everything else—the great enthusiasm, the immense dedication and the high sacrifices which have made these results possible?

Sisters and brothers of Free Grenada, there are some important differences between the Cuban and Nicaraguan campaign and hours, but there is much that we have to learn from their heroic examples.

The unity of action, the determination to succeed, the revolutionary spirit of voluntary sacrifice are the lessons to be extracted.

Only a united and conscious people can more forward. Only an educated and productive people can build a new and just society. Only a literate people can create the new man and woman.

In our literacy campaign conducted by the C.P.E., we have just over 3,500 learners registered and a volunteer teaching force of almost 2,000.

We are certain, however, that there are many more people in our country who cannot read and write and many more volunteers need to be found.

These figures are small but significant and in any event we know that there are many more people in need of learning how to read and write and many more in need of further developing whatever basic abilities in this area that they have.

These figures are small in comparison to the massive figures of the Cuban or Nicaraguan statistics but they are significant.

In Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, we fortunately do not have as serious a problem of illiteracy as some of our neighbours in Latin America or the Caribbean.

But illiteracy does exist in our country and it exists among that strata of the population whose role in the process of production is of vital importance to the country; the agricultural workers, the manual workers who are the driving forces of the production of wealth in our country.

For economic reasons, for moral reasons, for Christian and humanitarian reasons, illiteracy must be eradicated totally from our country. This is the challenge with which we are faced.

How can we respond to this historic and fundamental challenge? We respond collectively by working with the C.P.E. village coordinator in our area, by encouraging the weekly meetings which will be held between the village technician (the professional teacher who will guide the work of the volunteer and volunteers).

Above all, we respond—teachers, students alike—by being consistent and disciplined in our approach to our work.

To teach a brother or sister to read and write is a deeply rewarding task, it is a revolutionary duty for those who know to voluntarily place their knowledge at the service of those who do not.

By undertaking this task with the discipline, consistency and enthusiasm that it requires, we will succeed. We will succeed not only in teaching our fellow countryman to read and write, but through that process volunteer teachers will also learn a great deal themselves and will help to build a deeper spirit of unity, understanding and collective endeavour.

We call on all patriotic and concerned Grenadians, potential volunteers and students who have not yet registered, to come forward and take part in this programme now.

You can register either by contacting the parish coordinators or one of the volunteer teachers in your area, or by contacting the C.P.E. office in Scott Street, St. George’s.

I end by repeating that our country cannot go forward if there is a substantial number of our people who cannot read or write. In order to prepare for the kind of society we are trying to build, in order to achieve the greater levels of production, we must aim at, all of us have to be developed.

We all have to raise our levels of consciousness, our levels of efficiency, our levels of understanding. We cannot build Grenada on the basis where three quarters of the people could read and write and the other quarter cannot.

We cannot build our country on the basis where half of the people can move into higher levels of jobs where you can produce more and the other half cannot. I call, therefore, on all Grenadians to give their maximum collective wisdom, knowledge, understanding and consciousness.

Let us in unity and by learning together move to build our country to expand our economy and to consolidate our Revolution.

Long live the C.P.E.!

Long live Free Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique!

Forward ever! Backward never!

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