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You’re wrong, Jones

Our tone is hardly ever this muscular.

But oftentimes when folly parades in outwardly smart attire in the corridors of officialdom, it is necessary to place it in immediate context, momentarily abandoning diplomacy and attributing to ignorance the tone that it deserves.

Had the media not heard, we would not have believed that a Minister of Education who has benefited from a solid primary, secondary and tertiary education would permit such asinine comments, that we now repeat, to emanate from his mouth.

“If you are a teacher, don’t bring any media house on the school compounds of Barbados. If you are a principal, don’t bring them and if you are a trade union leader, stay out in the road unless you come to do good because the nature of life is about doing good; not about creating disharmony.”

And so Minister Ronald Jones, during a political session at St. Philip Primary just about 48 hours ago took another swipe at two important agents of democratic rule in modern societies. Indeed, he soberly revealed that he had given instructions for this latest edict to be carried out.

Of course, Jones’ swipe is not peculiar to politicians only in our neck of the woods. Russia’s Joseph Stalin, Germany’s Adolf Hitler, South Africa’s John Vorster, among a host of other intolerants throughout history, have had difficulties not only with the union movement and the media, but also with any living organism that does not kowtow to their desires and philosophies.

Since we strongly believe that Minister Jones would not address a political gathering while in a state of inebriation, we accept that he was fully aware of his comments and we feel duty-bound to remind him that both the media and the trade union movement have contributed significantly to the advancement of Barbadians and have played a pivotal role in the protection of their rights and democratic way of life.

Where the media are concerned, it is their function to apportion praise where it is merited and to apportion blame where it should rest. Jones spoke abstractly of the nature of life but should be minded that life is often about opposites. If his ministry fails to carry out a particular function in a timely fashion and it deserves criticism, it should be criticised. Similarly, when the Ministry of Education meets its obligations to our young and old citizenry and is deserving of accolades, they should be showered accordingly. That, sir, is the nature of life.

When our nation’s teachers and children excel in their teachings and areas of learning, the media enter their schools and bring their achievements to the wider public. When our young boys and girls perform outstandingly in sporting activity, the media enter the schools and bring their achievements to the wider Barbadian, regional and international public. The presentation of the good and the bad, Mr. Jones is about “harmony”, not disharmony.

If our education minister makes a presentation to a school in his constituency during a general election campaign, no doubt the media will be tasked with bringing the community-spirited act of the politician to the wider population. By the same token if a school in the same constituency is over-run by bush and mosquitoes to the detriment of our children, we do not expect Mr. Jones or any minister of Government to highlight this. But we, like all media, have a duty, with or without the permission of principals or teachers, to similarly highlight this fact to accelerate remedial action.

Mr. Jones, we believe that now you have had time for unimpeded reflection, you owe yourself an apology.

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