by Curlan Campbell
- Vison 75 adapted from 2020–2035 National Sustainable Development Plan
- Plan realisation extended to Grenada at 75 years
- PM acknowledged need to implement comprehensive plan drafted with contribution of ordinary Grenadians
Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has unveiled Vision 75, adapted from the 2020–2035 National Sustainable Development Plan policy document, stating that “it is not a dream, but a plan.”
During Tuesday’s unveiling of the commemorative EC$50 note for Grenada’s golden jubilee, his address coincided with a celebration for the 50th independence anniversary in Grenada when citizens are reflective and optimistic about the country’s future over the next 5 decades.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that while the plan was not created during his administration, he acknowledged the significance of implementing the comprehensive plan drafted with the contribution of ordinary Grenadians, instead of disregarding it, as has been the norm during governmental changes.
The plan’s expected implementation date has been delayed by 3 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding this delay, there remains a 13-year timeframe to accomplish the objectives of the plan. Prime Minister Mitchell also extended the plan’s realisation period from 2035 to Grenada beyond 50 years of independence — at 75 (2049), emphasising the need to raise awareness among uninformed Grenadians about the plan’s specifics.
“The question, then, is why Vision 75 and not 2035? I think the starting point is because most Grenadians don’t seem to be aware of the National Sustainable Development Plan,” he said. “The start of this conversation is a conversation about the plan that already exists…We don’t need promises that are reversed every 4 or 5 years. We need a plan that we as a nation agree upon and implement, regardless of the [people] who hold executive office.”
The Prime Minister asserted that unhealthy lifestyle choices pose more significant healthcare challenges than Grenada’s physical health infrastructure. To reverse this will require a personal commitment from every Grenadian at home and abroad to make healthy lifestyle choices and avoid processed foods to reduce complications from non-communicable diseases. He pointed to the state of oral health of the nation’s children due to poor diet and hygiene.
“Take a look at the smiles of our children. Are they the Grenadian smiles that we want to put up, or are they the Grenadian smiles that we hide?” he said. “You don’t need the dentists at five, six or seven years. You simply need good oral hygiene. That is not difficult to implement, that is not difficult to practice. If we start with ourselves, by Vision 75, we can significantly address many of the primary healthcare concerns that this nation faces. The plan requires us to have the discipline to do it.”
Healthcare and Agro-processing
The Prime Minister emphasised the link between healthcare and agro-processing. He also stressed the importance of investing in research and development of herbal medicine that will lead to new value-added products and new employment opportunities. He said an age-old vicious cycle still affects the agriculture sector, where organisations such as the Grenada Cocoa Association (GCA) and the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) continue to export raw materials to be processed outside the region, and that “it doesn’t require the government for you to take a policy decision that says we will not export our raw nutmegs. Next, it takes your willpower to say you are going to do so, and a government that will support that, and a population that I’m sure will support social initiatives.”
Revolutionise the education system
Lamenting that Grenada’s education is somewhat disconnected from the major pillars of our economy, the Prime Minister said that many of our students who graduate from top institutions are not taking up employment in careers within agriculture, agro-processing and fishing. “Despite all the talk about agro-processing, agriculture, and fishing, our education system has nothing to do with it. It does not encourage it. It does not support it. And it does not create persons who make a career out of it. If our education system does not ensure that our students, as a first choice career option, look at areas like agriculture, food processing, agro-processing, and fishing, we will not attain Vision 75.”
Emphasising the need for a reformed education system to reflect and address the needs of today’s realities, he envisioned a future where children’s intellectual ability is not solely based upon a test of memory and regurgitation but one that encourages creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking skills in an environment that fosters “cooperation rather than competition.” He said this can only be achieved if teachers are properly trained. In addition, fostering learning outside the classroom is also considered imperative to generate the type of Grenadians who are knowledgeable of their history and heritage. This, he stated, will be a cornerstone that will lay the foundation towards Vision 75.