BVI News

Public campaign needed to raise political consciousness of locals

President of the H Lavity Stoutt Community College, Dr Richard Georges has called for a public education campaign to inform BVIslanders about their civic duties, constitutional rights, and the overall politics of territory.

Speaking on a recent airing of the Honestly Speaking radio show, Dr Georges said when the people are more politically literate, they will be better able to answer many pertinent questions that face them. One such question relates to the kind of state the BVI should become in the near future.

He said the public is oftentimes told that full-fledged independence from the UK is the next step the territory must take on its political journey.

But he said if people receive proper political education, they will understand that independence isn’t the only option that lies before the BVI.

“I think we distil this down into a very two-base choice — ‘stay where you are’ (as an OT) or ‘independence’. We need to educate everyone in terms of where we are coming from … We need to make a determination on a direction and [say] ‘these are some of the directions that are possible’,” Dr Georges stated.

He said the public education campaign should be a ‘properly funded undertaking’ that utilises a wide range of media such as films, posters, social media, etcetera.

“The Constitutional Review Commission; maybe that’s another thing they could pick up,” Dr Georges suggested. He also suggested that the H Lavity Stoutt Community College could help with the public education campaign.

Self-determination is not independence

Dr Georges also sought to clarify two terms — ‘self-determination’ and ‘independence’. He said they’re often used synonymously but incorrectly in the public sphere.

The educator further said the public should note that self-determination doesn’t mean independence. 

Rather, he said self-determination means having the power to make one’s own choices.

“Self-determination means we say what we want. Self-determination is not synonymous with independence. That is one of the options available. We would have to say if we want independence. There are other options — free association, assimilation … If we want to remain a dependent territory of the United Kingdom, there are still a lot of room for improvement within that sphere,” Dr Georges explained.



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  1. SMH says:

    Agree 100%

  2. Laura says:

    Richard, you are so right. a lot of public education is required in our little nation and it most definitely needs to start at the head of the table with politicians. too many times ‘self-determination’ and ‘independence’ are used synonymously but incorrectly in the public sphere and hence lies the problem with what is fed to the public.

    Keep the pressure on Richard, you’re doing great in that seat:)

  3. Thinker. says:

    Yes please ! We need a publicly accessible conversation/educational space where our options on things as important as independence can be considered and opinions from the public gathered…. out side of the political environment. This would help our leadership to set out solid and well contrived policies – that reflect the wishes of the people….not have leaders running off their mouths – rabble rousing, for plans they cannot deliver.

  4. It's called Civics Class says:

    We had this as mandatory subject in Jr. High and High School. In addition, history classes laid the groundwork, by learning about how we got here. Civics teaches the meaning of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, citizens’ rights & responsibilities, duties of government, the electoral process and society building.

    Good to see our educators understand the value of these important lessons, not just memorization or rote learning.

  5. Jane says:

    Politicians here have it easy. The significant majority of the population is disenfranchised permanently. They do not need to worry about the commonwealth, only the interests of the minority Belonger. This leads to the endemic corruption and general political malaise. If the 70% of the population were allowed to vote you can expect that politicians will work much harder to earn their election.

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  6. E. Leonard says:

    Indeed, a public education and outreach programme on a)the system/ type of government, b) how government functions, c) how government is funded, d)role and responsibility government, e)role and responsibility of the Governor/de facto head of state, f) how laws are passed and become law, g)branches of government, h) the constitution and how it is amended, i)importance of voting and voter engagement, i)government role in the economy, j)service delivery and how it paid for, k) government revenue streams, l)budget building, m)elections, voting, HOA……..etc.

    During my days at Road and Major Bay Primary (Willard Wheatley) civics was taught. Though it was self serving and incomplete, it provided some basic knowledge. If it not already part of the curriculum, it should be reintroduced, telling the whole story.

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