ST. VINCENT:- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had defended his decision to have his youngest son, Storm Gonsalves, educated in the United Kingdom, saying the choice is not an indictment on his administration’s much trumpeted “education revolution”.
Gonsalves explanation comes two weeks after he announced plans to publish a 71-page paper outlining his party’s plans for the “education revolution” if elected for a third term consecutive in office in general elections due by next March.
Gonsalves has been criticized for sending his son, Storm Gonsalves to a British university, even as Gonsalves refers to the United Kingdom as an imperialist nation.
“It is just rubbish. I was educated in the United Kingdom too. So wait, Britain is not a colonial country? Britain is still not a colonial country? It doesn’t mean that if you are a colonial country you don’t have things about you which are good,” Gonsalves said on radio on Friday, Sept. 10, during a call from Cuba.
“Look, let me just make this plain to show that these people are just being ridiculous. They are just trying to inundate the airways with side issues. What they should talk about is the leadership of Ralph, the leadership of the ULP, the policies and programme we have – now and for the future and they don’t have any and our substantial excellent record,” he added.
Gonsalves said his children have gone to school in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), adding that his daughter Isis was educated in SVG up to the (advanced) A ‘Level. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)
He however said that Storm, who was involved in a vehicular accident last year, had missed 10 weeks of school and would have had to repeat a year at the Community College before taking his A’ Level examinations.
“What determined for me to send storm away had nothing to do with the quality of the Community College,” Gonsalves said, adding that the youth was distracted by a small business he was running.
“Storm had become very absorbed in his business and I was concerned that if he remained in St. Vincent, he would not pay as much attention to his A ‘Levels as he should and that he would be too preoccupied with his business,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves, who has a doctorate from the University of Manchester, said he chose to send his daughter Isis to the University of the West Indies (UWI) rather than his British alma mater or other school there to which she was accepted .
“I said to her, ‘I think you should go to UWI.’ I said, ‘I think in your case, I think you should be grounded among your peers in the Caribbean.’ Because, I know my children and I know which ones should be grounded where,” Gonsalves said.
“Because I have more friends and support services there [in England], I sent him (Storm) there. It has nothing to do with the problem — with any problem with our education revolution; absolutely nothing!” Gonsalves said.
He said that Isis, who along with the last daughter of former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell was born in 1990, had gone to school in SVG, while Sir James’ daughter went to secondary school in Europe.
“He and the child’s mother probably had good support systems and that is the choice they made. But, my case, I educate my children at home,” Gonsalves said. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
He said Isis has completed the second year of university and had taken a year off to study Mandarin in Taiwan.
He further asked if any of opposition leader Arnhim Eustace’s two kids had gone to University of the West Indies.
“Just like I say all the young people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines must soar like eagles with their wings unclipped, I say the same thing to my children … I don’t discriminate against my children neither I discriminate in favour of them,” Gonsalves said.
The ULP “education revolution” has resulted in universal access to secondary education and increased enrolment of Vincentian students at universities among other gains in the sector.