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Crisis the ‘best thing that could happen’

The best time to change a society for the better is during a period of crisis.

This contention from the president of the Barbados Economic Society, Jeremy Stephen, who has said that the recession was perhaps one of the “best things that could ever happen” to Barbados.

Stephen was responding to questions from the audience during a town hall meeting on productivity at the Princess Margaret Secondary School hall on Sunday.

He reiterated the call for “significant reform” of the education system.

“The best time to change a society is in a crisis. I applauded this. Actually, outside of my seat as being the president of the Barbados Economic Society, personally I thought this was the best thing that could have every happen to us, and it might seem controversial and a bit [dispassionate] but nonetheless it is the foundation on which we are about to change,” said Stephen.

“Let’s point to some facts,” he said, using the example of Haiti.

“Haiti, which we much laughed at over the years being a much maligned economy, an economy where there was no hope or anything. There is no economy in the western hemisphere that for the last five to seven years has grown as quickly as Haiti’s, and guess why? Guess what the turning point was? The earthquake. When I told my friends this, they said I was very heartless. I said the best thing to have ever happened to Haiti was the chance to start over,” Stephen explained.

He suggested that a “top down” approach be taken to address the issue of lack of productivity on the island.

Stephen further stated that parents should take responsibility for teaching their children certain values and experiences that were relevant and would help to improve productivity, saying they simply could not be learnt in school or by watching television.

“We can’t fix this by rote, we can’t fix this by pretty speech, we can’t fix this by my telling you to go and do something today. We fix this by understanding what the future looks like for us. If we continue to expect that a bunch of schoolbooks will help our children and rote behaviour or rote learning will help our children then you are wrong,” he said, adding that parents should sometimes take their children to work for them to learn early of what “hard work” involved.

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