|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 44 - Wednesday June 11, 2003
|Strategy for Breaking the Dependent Cycle in Dominica |
by: Frazier Jones
People at all social levels in Dominica including the technocrats and bureaucrats believe that Dominicans cannot do things for themselves. This has been drummed into us from colonial times and along with most of the developing world, especially Africa where colonization was virtually 100 per cent, we still believe that.
It is not surprising therefore that even the most influential Dominicans think this way. I won't be surprised at all if basic economic texts continue to stress that it is because of the lack of resources that Africa is not developed.
If this reasoning was sound Japan should me many times more underdeveloped than Africa. If one looks at all the countries that have made progress since the end of World War II, which heralded the end of the European Empires- the major architects of colonialism, it is clear that their success was deeply rooted in the efforts of the people.
In the case of Japan, they were told by economic advisors that they had no capital or resources therefore they should concentrate on labor intensive, low tech production.
However, the Japanese decided to solve the capital problem by encouraging saving, and the Government used this money to lend on very good terms to targeted industries. The rest is history.
Dominica and many other countries are still following the dictates of foreign advisors, notably the International Monetary Fund (IMF). There is no Dominican plan, and the country has been slow to adopt the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). Countries economies may very well be crippled by following this advice.
Formal Education in Dominica is generally good, with a very high literacy rate. It is clear that Dominicans are innately intelligent but the colonial mentality we have in Dominica where we cannot do anything for our self is keeping us back.
Changing or introducing new courses in the formal education system is generally out of the question in the short term. However, we need to make the students feel and think that they can do anything in Dominica, especially excel in Science and Technology.
We also want them to feel that they don't have to depend on the Government
or anyone else to give them a job, but because of their knowledge,
skill and intelligence, they can come up with lucrative enterprises in
Dominica, by utilizing all the available resources.
In my view, extra-curricular activities at pilot schools is the way to
go. No permission is required from the Bureaucrats and the curriculum development department won't feel threatened and react negatively.
Through Science Clubs the investigative abilities of the students can
be put to the test - what local acids and basis can they find; how many different ways can they produce electricity; making turbines (wind and water) and using an electric motor to generate electricity.
In Electronic Clubs students can make radios, test and measure equipment make toys and other components. Computer Clubs can focus on programming. Older students can program learning tools for younger ones, and set up and maintain web pages displaying their work. They could be encouraged to work in teams and have competitions from time to time.
All clubs should encourage the students to use the internet for research and a well stocked library with technical material should be made available. The students should be encouraged to post their projects on the web. They should also participate in activities like collecting Dominican artifacts in their communities and putting it on the web.
I am thinking primarily of sites like http://www.marigotvillage.com, which we should encourage, and develop more like it. Professionals should be invited to the club meetings to give lectures, and programmers can be encouraged to give the students real life tasks or even pay them to assist in programming with part of the payment going to the upkeep of the club.
Pilot schools should be chosen based on the abilities and enthusiasm
of the persons in or around the community and the receptivity of the principal. Not all clubs need to be formed at each pilot school. I know
that some pilot sites have already been chosen in Dominica, and there is strong support for the effort.
Dominicans living overseas can contribute to the effort by donating supplies and journals or subscribing on the Clubs’ behalf. These could be sent to a collection point and then sent once a month by Parcel Post to Dominica.
It is extremely important that we enlist all the people who are interested in seeing this effort succeed. Some may ask why don't I go and stay there and set things up and get it going since I am so passionate about it. Well, one of my foremost tasks will be to get together a core group of computer and electrical/electronics professionals, and come up with a
way to deliver on what I have outlined above.