Home Letters Include full history of indentureship in CXC curriculum
It is quite disturbing to read Vishnu Bisram‘s letter published in the local media on May 11, 2021, and also in Indocaribbean.com the next day entitled CXC syllabus and curriculum discriminate against Indians.
What is more alarming is that it mentions that these issues were raised with CXC officials a few years earlier by Dr Kumar Mahabir from Trinidad yet there have been no substantial changes that we are aware of.
We were hoping that there would be some response by the Ministry of Education in Guyana by now since this omission or commission has been ongoing even after Independence. The value of a cultural balance sheet does not seem to fit into the calculation of development and progress.
It may be too late to make changes for 2021 Caribbean Exams but we intend to see this issue remain in the public domain until it is adequately addressed considering the fact that about 40 per cent of the population is of Indian ancestry and May 5 is a special day each year.
If there is some explanation why the history, culture, literature etc of East Indians has not made its way into the classrooms of the nation we look forward to the reasons for there is much harm already inflicted on a people who have no knowledge of its past.
An obvious example is that many are celebrating the arrival of Indians on May 5, 1838, when the idea is to remember or commemorate the event. Any celebration should be reserved for the dates this abhorrent system ended and Gandhi must be credited for bringing public attention to it based on his experience in South Africa. If the history is taught, they would have found nothing to celebrate considering how and why our ancestors were initially taken from their land of birth to countries from the Pacific to the shores of British Guiana, how many died aboard the ships, and the abominable conditions under which they toiled and survived.
There is no longer a shortage of scholars or academic materials and the internet has provided us with the virtual classroom so what then is the issue if not political will?
If the concern is disharmony in a multiracial, multi religious country then there are also abundant lessons to be learnt from the life and message of peacemakers like Gandhi and others who from all races and religions followed his footsteps.
We recognise that CXC will take some time to consider changes since it must get input from the entire Caribbean and there are procedures that must be followed. We understand, however, that some changes can be made expeditiously by the Ministry of Education in that it can correct these glaring omissions by introducing educational material from kindergarten up to the secondary level even if subjects are not yet contested at the CXC level.
If necessary, support may come from the many impatient retired scholars at home and in the Diaspora who will remain restless until universal principles of equality and fairness as expressed by regional and international bodies like the United Nations find application in the land where the most indentured servants have made their home.
Those who left a second time have made their mark in other lands and have influenced policy and law.
While Guyana decides whether to call it Arrival Day or Indian Arrival Day, Provinces like Ontario, Canada, call for activities the entire month of May, solidified by Provincial and Federal legislation that acknowledge their achievements and contributions after only a few decades in a new land.
Their contribution to the adopted countries has also resulted in changes not just to law but to streets Some parts of Liberty Ave in Queens, NY, will soon be called Little Guyana and Pandit Ramlall Way.
We look forward to timely and regular announcements from the Ministry as to what steps are being taken to ensure that the next generation of students develop some pride in their culture by learning about their history, language, literature etc in all schools – private or public.
M Sookdeo, J Singh,
O Sharma, B Gajraj,
H Singh, A Kumar