Minister of Education Myron Walwyn has blamed members of the Elmore Stoutt High School Debating Club for making a sub-regional commitment without prior Government approval, adding that the commitment would probably cost about $200,000.
The Club was scheduled to host the Leeward Islands Debating Competition (LIDC) – an annual event that each participating country takes turn in hosting.
Walwyn stated that, almost a year ago, he gave the Club permission to put on fundraisers.
To date, no money has been raised and no fundraiser was held, he declared.
The event is now fast approaching, and no money is available to return the courtesy other countries extended to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) school over the years.
“You cannot go out and commit the country to an event that is gonna probably cost $200,000 without even the permission of the Ministry [of Education]. And then permission was sought to raise funds towards this, and I gave permission to raise funds since May 27th last year. And, up to two months ago, not one cent was raised; not one fundraiser was done,” the minister explained.
He indicated that, in light of the financial challenges, a proposal was made for the Club to effectively shirk its responsibility.
“The suggestion was that, perhaps we ought to advise the relevant bodies over the Leeward Islands that perhaps they should let another country host it, because things are not going the way [they are supposed to], and perhaps we can plan a little better with the government being involved to make sure it comes off well,” Walwyn said, while claiming that his ministry usually supports the debating club.
The minister, in the meantime, made a general appeal for organizations to desist from making promises that involve Government without prior permission.
“I want to use this opportunity to really sound out something that I have been speaking privately to many organizations and associations about – in particular those that are attached to the Ministry of Education and Culture in one way or another, that we really should not go out and commit the country and the government to hosting organizations and hosting events without the permission of the government. That happens too often with too many organizations.”
Walwyn continued: “Even as Minister of Education, when I go overseas to conferences, I would never commit the finances of the government without the permission of the Ministry of Finance.”
“In many instances, the very few same organizations and associations that go out and commit the country don’t live up to their end of the bargain, because many of them will say to you they are gonna go and do fundraising activities, and they never ever do it. And then to see this embarrassment for the country and to not disappoint young people who are very often involved in this, the ministry finds itself in a very peculiar situation when it has to try to find funds; and it’s not a good practice; it’s something we want to stop,” the education minister further trumpeted.
Club seeks public help
Meanwhile, following a meeting with Walwyn yesterday, a representative of Elmore Stoutt High School Debating Club Mariam Jallow made a public appeal for help in hosting the sub-regional debating competition.
“Now that the issue has been cleared up, we, the [debating] society, have much work to do. I want to thank many of the community members who spoke up and tried to ameliorate the situation with their advice. Now that the determination of the [debating] society has been restored, I ask that the community band together with us, in order to make LIDC 2018 happen here in our very own British Virgin Islands. If anyone is interested in helping, do not hesitate to contact me via messenger,” added Jallow, who initially brought the matter to public attention.
The competition is usually held in February.
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