Leader

Take back communities from so-called leaders

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Take back schools and communities from so-called community leaders, chair of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Kris Rampersad told educators last week.

She was addressing the closing ceremony of a joint initiative by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education in Port of Spain for pilot training of some 125 principals, school supervisors and teachers.

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Dr Kris Rampersad, Chair of Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO

“For too long our children have been kidnapped and our society has been hijacked and held to ransom by bandits and criminals who are held up as community leaders and to whom, tragically, the society now seems to be turning for advice to address the very problems they create. You are the community leaders,” Rampersad told the graduates, before they were presented certificates of completion of the course, Leading for Literacy Now!

“For too long the schoolmaster and mistress who were once significant and pivotal axes of social life in our villages and districts, have either abdicated their roles as leaders or been forced out of them by other social pressures,” she continued.

The educators participated in a pilot training in leadership skills training towards improving literacy levels beginning with primary schools with special focus on teachers of Infant I and II. A national call was made by the Commission through the Education Ministry and the participants were selected from voluntary applicants.

“For too long we have been held to ransom by bandits and criminals in the guise of leaders and social and community leaders. We ask you now to go back and reclaim those spaces; to see yourself and to present and represent yourselves as the leaders that you are. To put your hands up proudly when there are calls for meetings and discussions and consultations with community leaders and say that you are leaders in your community. We ask you that you return to your schools to no longer cower before bullying parents and misguided children and take charge!” Rampersad said.

She noted that the course has helped equip and tool principals and teachers to return to the new school term with fresh perspectives and approaches to face some of the challenges they may confront.

The exercise was conducted by facilitators from the UK-based National Training College for School Leadership with financial and other technical support from UNESCO, the Ministry of Education, the National Commission, BMobile and the Army Leadership Training Centre of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment.

“We ask you to use what you have learnt here to not just influence but to transform the directions of our education system and by extension our society as well,” Rampersad urged, noting a growing nervousness in the society enveloped in a wind of change that is causing considerable restless and which requires solid management of the processes of change and transformation.

Acknowledging that the problems facing educators are many, and not insignificant, she challenged the trainees to take their learning back to school and expressed the hope to see positive results by as early as the end of the first term – by December 2013.

“Three months is a very long time in the life of a child, and we know how much they can learn in short a short period. We need to capture their minds and imaginations before someone else does,” Rampersad pointed out.

She said the participants will be engaged in continuous assessment and will share their experiences and recommendations for expanding the programme to all schools and districts of Trinidad and Tobago, adding that commitment for such support has already been expressed by the Ministry of Education.

“We do not deny that the challenges are many and these times demand all our energies and intelligence to manage the changes that are inevitable. We have to ensure that such management occurs and we do not have the negative repercussions as we are witnessing taking place in Egypt and Syria and elsewhere. Let us manage and redirect the changes that are inevitable, drawing from your wisdom and experiences to positively impact our youth and harness their restless energies for change,” Rampersad said. “It will require open-mindedness, flexibility and a lot of patience.”

She also noted that, once the expected results are realised, the Commission hopes to be able to hold up Leading for Literacy Now this as a model project to UNESCO to share with the Caribbean and its global community.

https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal
 http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Take-back-communities-from-so-called-leaders%2C-says-Trinidad-UNESCO-chair-17393.html

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Let’s take back our comunities from so-called community leaders

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Closing Remarks, Dr Kris Rampersad Chair, National Commission for UNESCO,  at
Leading for Literacy Now! National Workshop for Principals and Teachers
Sister Francis Xavier Heritage Hall, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain
August 25 2013

One of the advantages in living in a place like Trinidad and Tobago is that we have easy access and exposure to the good books of the many and varied cultures, ethnicities and religions that make up our society.
One of our good books tells us that the world was created in six days.
Mrs Elizabeth Crouch, Principal of Marina Regina Prep School and head of the education sector committee of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO lead principals, school supervisors and teachers in the joint UNESCO/Ministry of Education initiative Leading for Literacy Now!
We have come to the sixth day of this our week-long efforts to begin to recreate and transforming our world, the communities and the spaces and the schools we occupy, as Leaders for Literacy, Now!
Do we feel more empowered? Do we feel better prepared and better tooled? We, of the National Commission for UNESCO of Trinidad and Tobago, and our project partners, the Ministry of Education, BMobile and the UK-Based National Training College for School Leadership and the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment hope that we have met and fulfilled some of those expectations that we outlined at the beginning of this week and when this training preparation began with you earlier this year and with us since last year.
We thank you for investing your time and energies and visions with us, and now we have some expectations of our own. We want results and returns on this investment – not just the more than half a million dollars UNESCO and the Ministry of Education with our project partners are investing in this, but also in the energies and ideas we have shared and exchanged.
We well recognise that many of you function under very challenge personal and professional situations. We well recognise that the tasks with which you are charged as principals and teachers are by no means easy. We well recognise that sometimes the diversity of our society demands constant readjustments to varying expectations.
But we want to challenge you now to go forth and reclaim your places as bonafide community leaders. For too long the term, and the role of leaders in our communities have been hijacked by not too savoury elements who are being held up as the role models for our youths and children. For too long we have watched our children being kidnapped by forces and influences that we wanted to think were beyond our control. For too long the schoolmaster and mistress who were once significant and pivotal axes of social life in our villages and districts, have either abdicated their roles or been forced out of them by other social pressures. For too long we have been held to ransom by bandits and criminals in the guise of leaders and social and community leaders.
We ask you now to go back and reclaim those spaces; to see yourself and to present and represent yourselves as the leaders that you are. To put your hands up proudly when there are calls for meetings and discussions and consultations with community leaders and say that you are leaders in your community.
We ask you that you return to your schools to no longer cower before bullying parents and misguided children and take charge!
We ask you to use what you have learnt here to, as I said at the opening, not just influence the directions of our education system and by extension of our society, but to transform it.
You are the community leaders. You are agents of change and transformation.
It is no secret that we live in not just interesting, as Confucius is said to have said, but also in challenging times; times that demand all our energies and intelligence to manage the winds of change that are blowing and that all of us are feeling in our schools and in our districts. We need to manage these changing times so we do not have the negative repercussions as we are witnessing taking place in Egypt and Syria and elsewhere. We need to direct and redirect the changes that are inevitable, drawing from your own wisdom and experiences to positively impact our youth and harness their restless energies for change.
It certainly will require a few qualities that cannot be learnt in a classroom – open-mindedness, flexibility, and patience – but we do hope that this classroom has provided you with some formulas by which you can assess and understand how to acquire and cull those qualities.
As the same good book said, on the seventh, the Creator rested. I don’t think that meant that for you, not for us.
Tomorrow, we go on our drill with the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment which is promising us through the Army Leadership Training Centre, a one-day outdoor team-building and risk training exercise to what you already know and have learnt of leadership.
Like us at the National Commission, the Army Leadership Training personnel recognise that this is particularly important in the dynamic environment in which you find yourself working everyday in our schools. They acknowledge your role as principal and educator as paramount in carving and manipulation this chameleon environment in which you function, in dealing with students and staff and parents from all walks of life and with varying morals, values, and social skills that require some extra special skills to help you cope with situations where the answers may either be nowhere in sight, or just under your nose; where the success of the team will not depend on the strength of any one individual or where achieving overall success may depend on the subordination of personal objectives.
So that’s the task of the seventh day, tomorrow – not to rest, but as the ones created for the task, to continue the good work to go forth and multiply these learnings into your schools and communities. To Lead for Literacy, Now!
Because we all know what the power of literacy is. We are all living examples of that – of how our ability to read and to interpret a line, a page, a book can transform how we see ourselves, how we view others and how to make informed and intelligent choices when confronted with difficult options, or no options at all. That has been my experience as a reader, from districts and schools and homes just like the ones you serve.
And it is our sense of personal responsibility that has inspired my Leaves of Life drive for a revolution in reading, to inspire reading in unorthodox ways; and it is the sense of collective responsibility that inspired Mrs Crouch and our team of the National Commission, and the Ministry of Education in planning and organising this Leading for Literacy, Now! We are building a team and I am sure too an army, for change.
We envision that in the forty schools from which you were drawn, voluntarily, we will begin to see results in learning and literacy – in the ability of our children to read as early as the end of the first term – by December, yes December 2013 – we all know that three months is a very long time in the life of a child and they can learn much in such a short space of time. Are we ready for that! We must claim their minds and imaginations before someone else does.
We also envision that from forty districts in Trinidad and Tobago, we will begin to see an impact on perceptions and beliefs of who are our real community leaders; who are really in charge; and to whom our society should turn when it needs advice and directions and leadership. You! Are we ready for that?
As we promised at the beginning, we will continue to encourage you to not only keep up the dialogue, but translate it into actions within your own spheres and share it with your peers, in other schools and districts as we assess the outcomes of this and get ready to draw in more of our principals and teachers and children as we have been mandated by the Minister of Education.
Yes, we were very serious when we titled this Leading for Literacy, Now! Let as take back our communities; let us take back our children, as leaders, Now!
I thank you.
PHOTO CAPTION: Mrs Elizabeth Crouch, Principal of Marina Regina Prep School and head of the education sector committee of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO lead principals, school supervisors and teachers in the joint UNESCO/Ministry of Education initiative Leading for Literacy Now! Photo Courtesy Kris Rampersad

New Presidential Picong Tours Workshop Specials

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TOURS and WORKSHOPS AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

YOUR VOTE
YOUR CHOICE
Any DistrictAny Theme
Bring Yuh Group and Come!

See:

WINDS of POLITICAL CHANGE Previous blog on Demokrssy

VISIT Kris Rampersad Website 

Email
lolleaves@gmail.com
facebook.com/kris.rampersad1

Old Casked Rum: The Emperor’s New Tools#1 – Towards Constitutional Reform in T&T

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So we’ve had the rounds of consultations on Constitutional Reform? 
Are we any wiser?
 Do we have a sense of direction that will drive transformation of the governance of T&T? 
Do we have a vision for a better framework of governance: made of the people of T&; for the people of T&T; and by the people of T&T? 
Or are we merely repackaging old casked mercantilist rum in new bottles as we try to forcefit ourselves in one of two already tottering models of governance – the British Westminster system and the US Presidential model. 
Time to rethink our approach for what works best for us. 
 To begin this probe, let’s flash back to an article written in the lead up to the 2010 elections: Have any of these found resolution in the recent rounds of constitutional reform talks; or have they been just that: talk? More in the introduction to Through the Political Glass Ceiling available on Amazon Kindle and local bookshops: 

Constitutional Crisis of Leadership
Various analyses tell us that the leadership blunders of the past few decades point to the Trinidad and Tobago’s Constitution as the culprit, and there is an indisputable need for constitution reform, given evident flaws in T&T Constitutions past and present.
Both the 1961 (Independence) Constitution and the 1976 (Republic) Constitution were clearly already obsolete from their inception, with their unworkable British import of the first-past-the-post/winner-take-all model and evident failure, as they disenfranchise large numbers of voters, as occurred in the 1981, 2001, 2002 and 2007 general elections.
The alternative, proportional representation, which offers each party numbers of seats in Parliament, according to the proportion of votes they command, has received some attention, but, like first-past-the-post, it upholds a party-based system that gives politicians divine status, and places them at the centre of decision-making, which we have seen, with demands for a bottoms-up approach, itself cannot hold.
 The Wooding (1971) and Hyatali (1974) Commissions, set up to explore constitutional reform, proposed another, a mixed system drawing from first-past-the-post and proportional representative models. This has been rejected by the PNM’s Williams and Manning, though all—PNM and the commissions—premised their arguments on our diversity which they defined largely as ethnic diversity.
 Manning put forward, in 2006, a “working document” on constitutional reform, drawn up primarily by a one-man commission (former President Ellis Clarke), and after-the-fact staged some public “consultations”—an approach interpreted as paying lip service to public opinion. Executive president? His draft provided for an executive president, as in the USA, which would give even more executive powers to an already maximum leader of the first-past-the-post system, without correcting (but rather further emasculating) those instruments and institutions that provide checks and balances on such “Massa” power.
These include the judiciary and the legislature, and others as the Ombudsman, the Director of Public Prosecution, the Commissioner of Police, the magistracy, Commissions for Integrity, Judicial and Legal Services, Police Service, Public Service, Teaching Service. etc.
 It also proposes to restrict the principle of freedom of expression (the media) by altering the Bill of Rights. Another constitution, drafted by the self-assigned 2006 Fairness Committee of four, leaned on a further amalgamation—of the Manning model (though produced before Manning’s) supporting an executive president, along with a mixed system of proportional representation and first-past-the-post, as recommended by the Wooding and Hyatali Commissions.
 One challenge after the other to the constitution has surfaced, since the NAR, to show that the constitution is not just dog-eared, but coming apart at the seams and irrelevant in a rapidly-changing world:
 1. The PNM’s challenge of Winston “Gypsy” Peters’ dual citizenship;
2. The 2002 18-18 deadlocked elections which were not catered for in the constitution;
3. Other challenges, mainly related to cockfighting, by Panday and Robinson—appointments through the Senate of people who had been defeated in the polls;
 4. The chicken-and-egg crisis precipitated by the Standing Order for electing a Speaker before convening the House, when neither party wanted to propose a Speaker.
The constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, as it is, has outlived its usefulness.
To justify his quest for an executive president/US-styled governance system, (Then) PNM leader Patrick Manning has sought to justify his high-handed approach to decision-making with arguments that the extremely diverse nature of the society and their many competing interests made it difficult to govern, and needed “strong” leadership. But at the risk of sounding like a prophetess, the diversity of T&T is, indeed, its primary character, and anyone who cannot manage our diversity is doomed to failure!
Anyone who wants to govern effectively must unite the diversity, rather than seek ever more exclusive power to overrule it; (the consequences of ignoring the public over an extended period have been graphically illustrated by the events of recent weeks).
The constitution—and the Westminster-styled parliamentary system it establishes cannot accommodate that diversity.
The PNM—undeniably the most experienced party in T&T—argue that neither could proportional representation. Both, it seems, are partly in the right; but wholly wrong.

  Leadership crisis—single party or coalition 

 The search for the ideal model has been around the debate of whether the single party or coalition government is the better model. Both have been tried and tested and found wanting. As analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath observed, the three occasions when our governments prematurely collapsed have been as single-party governments—Panday’s in 2001 and Manning’s in 1995, and 2010. Majority rule by a maximum leader, with powers equivalent to the divine right of kings, in a single party is losing sway on a population becoming more astute and unwilling to continue as blind, unquestioning, sheep-like followers. 
Governance by any one majority ethnic group has become unsavoury to growing and more vociferous elements, demanding recognition of our cultural and other diversity, denied in Williams “No Mother India, no Mother Africa” maxim which seemed not to grasp the complexity of the identity issue. 
Nor have coalitions worked either; not two examples, the alliance governments of 1986 and 1991—both of which evolved out of forces opposing the PNM and including Panday’s UNC, Robinson’s Democratic Action Congress, Karl Hudson-Phillips’ Organisation for National Reconstruction, Lloyd Best’s Tapia and various others. 

They failed because…
They failed, not because the structure of the coalitions was tested, nor because of challenges of managing our complex diversity—they never got a chance. They failed because—as with the maximum leader mode of single-party politics—managing the diverse egos of a man-rat-driven political culture, continuously tested the constitution and the governance model, promoting the eminence of constitutional lawyers and legal Messiahs. They failed because of unenlightened or misguided leadership that failed to respect the needs and wishes of its people.