The stark realities facing the Region as it relates to human development were brought to the fore at a Thought Leadership Forum hosted as part of the opening of the Thirty-Fourth Council for Human and Social Development COHSOD.
The Forum was held under the theme ‘Positioning Human Resource Development as Central to Caribbean Resilience and Development’. It was led by Professor Ivelaw Griffith, Vice Chancellor, University of Guyana, with discussants including Hon. Delmaude Ryan, Deputy Premier and Minister of Education Youth Affairs and Sport, Monserrat and Mr, Adrian Augier, Artist, Economist and Recipient of the Caribbean Laureate of Arts Letters Award.
The Forum was an unprecedented component of the opening ceremony for the COHSOD.
Vice Chancellor Griffith, in leading the discussion, challenged those crafting the implementation plan for the Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy to move from dreaming to actually doing. He highlighted the fact that it was practice rather than platitudes that would move them in that direction. Quoting American poet Maya Angelou, the Vice Chancellor also encouraged the group to become comfortable with being unorthodox and not normal by definition of a certain period of history and a certain set of individuals and personalities.
“If you always try to be normal, you never know how amazing you are”, he said, quoting Maya Angelou.
Mr. Griffith spoke to four imperatives which he said were crucial to the development of the implementation plan: values, ownership, investment and resilience.
He commended the six values identified in the HRD Strategy and suggested adding respect as a seventh value. He said respect was a value that ought to be embraced as a fundamental desideratum of other values such as good citizenship.
Adding to the Vice Chancellor’s discourse on the issue, Mr. Augier spoke to some of the stark realities that currently exist in the Region in the realm of human development. He pointed to a high level of dissonance within the society and questioned assumptions regarding Caribbean children who would be carrying the trajectory that the strategy and its implementation were setting for them to follow.
“Our generations have fled and are fleeing every chance they get… who are we planning for”, he questioned, while suggesting that it may be those who did not have the opportunity to leave.
He also spoke to the issue of crime, which he said was a symptom rather than an ailment within societies of the Region. He suggested that the Region should examine the idea of addressing Regional economic growth and reducing government while improving governance as a means of solving some of the problems.
Minister Ryan, in her response, agreed that values were important in crafting the implementation plan. She spoke to examining the Region’s values as a people but also exploring the value of the Region. She posited that investing in education may be a valuable option, and pointed out the fact that a majority of the Region’s leaders were graduates of the University of the West Indies. She also said that economics was important in developing the strategy and endorsed a sentiment raised by Vice Chancellor Griffith, that it was time for the Region to invest in itself and “put its money where its mouth is”.
The Thirty-Fourth COHSOD was held under the theme ‘Positioning Human Resource Development as Central to Caribbean Resilience and Development’. The main purpose of the Meeting was to devise an implementation plan for the Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy which was endorsed by the CARICOM Heads of Government in July 2017. The Strategy was developed by the HRD Commission with technical and financial support from the Caribbean Development Bank.