NDP VIEW: The Canouan Secondary School

The Canouan Secondary School

The Canouan Secondary School is now a reality. The doors were opened on Monday 2nd September, 2019 after years of struggle and hardship. The battle was real and the economic costs were astronomical for many parents. The beginning of the 2019 -2020 academic year was undoubtedly a joyous, momentous and historic occasion for the students, parents and the community of Canouan. The parents of the children of Canouan must be commended for their perseverance towards this venture. Indeed, it was a beautiful day.

What is noticeable is the credit the government is taking for the construction of the secondary school. It would appear as if the government did everything for secondary education on the island to become a reality. The people of Canouan know otherwise. We are grateful to the investors on the island who played a significant role in the construction of the school. The future of the island’s youth should now be brighter and much improved. Certainly, the youths on the island are now in the position to work at ‘’new fantastic point of view’’ and ‘’pursue new horizons’’ as summarised in the song made popular by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle.

It is the quest of the New Democratic Party to build on the strong foundation and further strengthen our proud legacy as we continue to make education and training the highest priority to provide better opportunities for all. The Honourable Terrance Ollivierre and the Canouan Island community must take the credit for the construction of the secondary school. When the Honourable Terrance Ollivierre was elected in 2001 as the parliamentary representative for the Southern Grenadines, the first project he placed on his agenda was the construction of a secondary school for Canouan. He discussed it with the residents of Canouan and they all agreed that there was a need for a secondary education to enhance students’ successful outcomes.

From 2001, to this year, Mr. Ollivierre has been advocating for a secondary education in Canouan. Almost every Sitting of a new parliament and every budgetary debate, by way of questions on or by his cries and his pleas, the introduction of secondary education on the island has always been his mantra.  At one occasion in the parliament, he shed tears trying to convince the government that a secondary school was needed on the island.

The ULP government was not convinced of the need of a secondary school on the island. We recall that the numbers games and other reasons were given in objection to secondary education in Canouan. Edwin Snagg in the 2003 budgetary debate puts it this way, “There’s a thrust in Education in the Grenadines that is phenomenal.  You see this Secondary School that I just spoke about; it’s amazing and it’s a bright thought, and it’s a progressive thought and I indicated that recently how progressive such a thought is; that when you could think about the construction of a secondary school and you think about it within the circumstances that it must exist, and in which it must function; that it must be useful to the citizens, so you make sure that there are dormitories to facilitate the people who come from Mayreau and those who come from Canouan of which the Honourable Member for the Southern Grenadines is always talking about a secondary school in Canouan – for a classroom, or less than a classroom but we could take them to Union Island and they can be housed in Union Island, because there would be a dormitory provided for the purpose”. It wasn’t phenomenal to introduce secondary education on the island of Canouan for him and his government.

 On the 16th April, 2003, the Parliamentary Representative of the Southern Grenadines posed the following question to the then Minister of education. ‘Given the financial constraints, accommodation and various other problems faced by the people of Canouan with respect to the growing number of students seeking secondary education from that Grenadine Island: ‘Would the Minister please indicate whether Government is considering alleviating this problem by providing secondary education in Canouan’.

The Minister in response to the question; alluded to that of quality and the need to improve performance. He said, “A number of things have been done Mr. Speaker, to improve the quality of the education at the Canouan School and we are looking forward to improved performance by the students of that institution.” The concluding paragraph of the minister’s answer was really telling, as to the intention of his government. He stated, “So in concluding Mr. Speaker, the issue is really not one of providing secondary education, but upgrading what we have and taking on board the difficulties encountered by students in accommodation etc. the establishment of dormitories and other related facilities at the brand new modern Union Island Secondary School.”

After years of neglect and empty promises, the voices of children supported by a community bellowed across the media, “No more promises, we need our own secondary school”. Indeed, the voices of desperate children, parents and community as they highlighted their plight and need. They recognized the fact that millions of dollars was collected from the sale of scarce lands on the island but none was invested in their future.

Representative Ollivierre and the people of the Canouan Island community did not give up but persevered. Through the years they kept fighting on, agitating relentlessly, for they knew as put so eloquently by Gerard Razum Shallow in his calypso Perseverance, “That every good seed you sow brings a fruit wherever you plant it. Perseverance and strength go together, triumph in all its reigns follow after.” There is a sense of gratitude and thankfulness to all those involved in this success story. Indeed, a special heartfelt appreciation and gratefulness to the developers for a dream come true. The time is now to make sure we get the quality education we need to improve our island community and community as we bear the fruits necessary for growth and development.