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Political material should not be distributed in schools

A young politician has probably learnt a lesson the hard way last week after doing what may have been a good will on her part as Grenada grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. However, as she posted “it’s not going to be an easy road” and has removed the pictures from social media, is evidence that she will be better prepared as she plods on in politics in the future. Many people called for an apology on the issue of Minister Kate Lewis distributing her personally branded masks to school children in her constituency. As the matter was put under the microscope, to some, this did not come as a surprise since from her launch the representative for Saint Andrew North East appeared to be juvenile as she danced her way to where she is today, Minister of Youth in the Prime Minister’s Ministry. It will do her well to discuss her plans with the more seasoned politicians who can give her guidance which will save face.

The opposing National Democratic Congress (NDC) sees the decision to make and distribute NNP branded masks to be worn by children as an indication of the extent to which decency and morals are abandoned by some for political mileage and should be condemned. NDC is calling on the leadership of NNP to publicly express disapproval of this action and to condemn such exploitation of our children. The NDC is not only calling for an unreserved apology from the MP, but is also calling for her resignation as well.

The issue was a hot topic on Real FM last Sunday as the three people on the programme ‘Dealing with the real issues’ had differing opinions. Andre Donald does not agree that the MP was wrong. He said that if the MP had put on the mask – NNP Representative for Saint Andrew NE it would have been wrong; but she had the masks made in the colour of the schools’ uniform with only her face as the MP for the area. The two schools were the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic primary school and Belair Government School. Andre believes that it is correct to educate children to recognize the Parliamentary Representative.

However, Kennedy Budhlall a political activist on the programme, sees Andre’s opinion as a spin on the issue. He was adamant as he shared his thoughts that the MP was wrong to have her face on the masks which politicized her effort. Budhlall said the incident was political exploitation of children.

The Grenada Movement (TGM), which was recently launched, expressed shock at what it sees as the latest display of insensitivity, disregard for the concept of decency, exploitation of minors and the attempt to create a cult of personality, evidenced by the recent “gift” of face masks to the pupils by the Honourable Kate Skeeter Lewis, who is the Minister in the Ministry of Youth, Sports Culture and the Arts. TGM sees the reason given by NNP for the gesture (helping promote safety from the novel coronavirus in the midst of a global pandemic) as superficial which calls for answers to some questions: Is it right to issue to under-aged children (minors) gifts that clearly bear the likeness of a politician? Was consent from the children’s parents sought before these gifts were given? Was parental consent given before the pictures of the children were taken and spread around the world on the Internet? Is it right to issue political campaign material to school children at school? Is it right for the political directorate to target our nation’s children for brazen political exploitation?

TGM stated that if the answer to any one of the foregoing questions is “No”, then it is calling upon Prime Minister Mitchell to act in the public interest and take measures that in his judgement are appropriate for this shocking act of political exploitation of our nation’s children. The issue was clearly disturbing in some circles although many people believe that the young lady displayed a measure of innocence or even ignorance. An old politician recalled being schooled on Thursdays by Sir Eric Matthew Gairy when he was Prime Minister. Others during the Revolution reminisced on having to attend political classes. Maybe the issue can serve as an eye opener as to the limitations in the young people that are called into politics. They should be schooled on this very complex topic.

The Minister of Education, Hon Emmaline Pierre, a more seasoned politician, intervened and is reported as saying that the move was not in keeping with the Ministry of Education’s policy and the requirements for people entering schools to distribute items so she cannot endorse it. Therein lies the hint that the politicians are not always working together. They must be taught to lend strength to each other as they go along. Experience may not always be the best teacher, but it is certainly a good one.


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