Deputy Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Joseph Andall believes that the price of school books that now has to be borne by parents could retard the level of education of their children.
Since assuming Office two years ago, the New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell scrapped the free school books programme which was initiated by the Tillman Thomas-led Congress government to help cushion the economic plight of the people of Grenada.
Parents who benefitted from the school books programme only had to pay $25 for the full list of books as handling fees.
Andall provided the political meeting held by his party in Sauteurs, St.Patrick’s last week Wednesday with a number of different prices for books to be used in the school system.
He said he took a Grade One book list for five books to the Grenada Teachers Schools Supplies on St. John’s Street St. George’s, and it costs him $147.75.
He further stated a Form 1 book list costs $769.95, a Form 5 book list of eight subject costs $746.65 without the science subjects and that a student doing 10 CXC subjects including the sciences will have to come up with $966.65 for the books.
“To get all of these books – how much did it cost you under the NDC? Only $25, check out the savings,” Andall told the gathering.
The free text book programme was introduced during 2008 and replaced the then existing text book programme of NNP which targeted only students identified as “Needy”.
It was the philosophy of the NDC Government that no child should be
excluded from accessing free education simply because the child’s
parent or guardian cannot afford to buy the required books for school.
Andall believes that the only way poor people in any country could rise out of poverty is when they are educated.
He said the NDC government of 2008-13 saw it as its sacred duty and responsibility to provide free education at the secondary school level for all Grenadian children.
“When you educate your people, you free up their minds, (and) you provide a better qualified person for the workplace and the whole country benefits from it, but when you leave your people in darkness, crooked politicians will exploit their simplicity for their own ends,” he added.
The NDC Deputy Political Leader looked at inequity and injustice being done by the NNP Government to the people of Grenada to accommodate high paying positions for people who are closely aligned to the two year old regime.
He made specific mention of the job landed by former President of the Senate Dr. Lawrence Joseph as a Consultant to Parliament.
Dr. Joseph and his Guyana-born wife, Avril Trotman-Joseph are both attorneys-at-law and run their own private law firm in St. George.
During a recent post-Cabinet press briefing, Legal Affairs Minister Elvin Nimrod disclosed that Dr. Joseph has been given a contract as Advisor to Government specifically on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
Andall said while poor people have to send their children to school for three days a week, the Government has provided Dr. Joseph whom he claims to be a millionaire with a consultancy job.
Andall, a former Lecturer at the T.A Marryshow Community College, said he is currently volunteering his time to provide lessons to children of St. Patrick’s, St. Mark’s and St. Andrew’s without charging them.
He queried why Dr. Joseph cannot do the same by providing his services to Parliament without a charge.
The NDC Number Two man said his party believes that when the people are educated possibilities are opened up to them.
He spoke of a Congress government taking steps to encourage the people to develop a spirit of entrepreneurship as a means of developing themselves.
“We believe that only a self-reliant people can make progress. You’ll never see a beggar build a big house, a beggar will continue to beg until he dies. An industrious person will go from rags to riches by the sweat of his or her brow, and that is what we want to encourage.
Our philosophy is use what you have to get what you want,” he said.
Political Leader of Congress, Sen. Nazim Burke who also addressed the NDC gathering echoed the sentiment of his colleague.
Sen. Burke indicated that NDC’s philosophy is not for people to become dependent on government but to teach them how to fish so that they can fish for themselves.
“Our desire, our passion, our commitment is to build a strong, stable, independent nation in which all of our people whether NDCites or NNPites whether GULPites or PLMites – where ever you are – as long as you are a Grenadian you must share in the bread of this country,” he said.