Disconnecting to buy local for sustainable living

Anyone know of a local alternative to #Microsoft and some other #software and #hardware technologies and upgrades?
Does sustaining local enterprise mean disconnecting from global technologies?
Those who know me know I do not like shopping and am an advocate to #BuyLocal so I would appreciate info so as to avoid that new #7%Tax in addition to the other taxes already … see more www.kris-rampersad.blogspot.com
for even more:
#knowledge products  #industry #sustainable alternatives, contact lolleaves@gmail.com @krisamp @lolleaves @glocalpot #GlocalKnowledgePot #Worldwewantpeople #SustainableDevelopment #SDG #SustainableLiving

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Use Memory of the World resource to transform education curriculum

Remarks, Dr Kris Rampersad,
Chair, Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO at the Opening of UNESCO Pan-Caribbean Consultative Workshop on Memory of the World
Port of Spain, Trinidad, 25-27 September 2013
On behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO welcome to this Pan Caribbean consultative workshop on UNESCO Memory of the World initiative. While we are a national commission with essentially a national mandate, we also take very seriously our role as a member of the Caribbean community and the wider UNESCO region of Latin America and the Caribbean.
As we mark this year the 21st anniversary of the Memory of the World programme and 13th anniversary of the Memory of the World Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, it is perhaps timely for us to reflect on where we have reached with the programme.
In the short 13 years since, eight countries from the Commonwealth Caribbean (Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, St Kitts, Jamaica, Guyana, Dominica, Barbados, and the Bahamas) have inscribed 21 collections of documentary heritage on the International Memory of the World Register and twenty five collections on the Regional Register.
We tend to think of the University of the West Indies and Cricket as two main elements I am sure you will agree that this has offered us an opportunity to collaborate as a region in the 13 joint nominations submitted among several of our countries – and these by four national committees in Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and certainly I want to particularly recognise the work of the Trinidad and Tobago National Memory of the World Committee under the stewardship of Mrs Joan Osborne.
But much work still to be done in public engagement and to draw out private collectors and archivists to present their work for consideration so we can have broad representation of the diversity of cultures, languages and heritage.
Last year’s meeting underscored the need for greater involvement by countries in the Caribbean, and to support each other. Through the work of the Trinidad and Tobago national memory of the world committee we have enlisted:
—  The Derek Walcott Collection
—  The Eric Williams Collection
—  The C.L.R. James Collection
—  Registry of Slaves of the British Caribbean
—  Records of Indian Indentured Labourersof Trinidad and Tobago
—  The Constantine Collection
—  The Donald ‘Jackie’ Hinkson Collection
—  The Carlisle Chang Collection
—  The Digital Pan Archive
—  Records of Indian Indentured Labourers of Trinidad and Tobago 1845-1917
—  The Samuel Selvon Collection
At the MOWLAC meeting in Port of Spain 2012 the concern was raised of the involvement of countries in the region in the programme and how to encourage the creation of national committees and the number of nominations coming from the region. It was found that there was greater need for collaboration since in some countries the MOW programme was not visible and professionals and owners of collections did not know how to complete the nomination forms.
We should also recognise that much of the critical documentary heritage reside not only within the region but also in internationally-based institutions.
We hope this workshop will meet with similar success of preceding workshops in which nine inscriptions followed the 2009 workshop in Barbados, for example.
We note among the objectives of this is to strengthen the memory of the world programme through greater awareness, to increase nominations at the national, regional and international levels; and to develop an action agenda and a CARICOM MOW action plan for 2013- 2015.
I suggest that among the latter you also take a look at the current draft CARICOM-UNESCO memorandum of agreement and suggest any alternations you may need to make to the text relevant to accommodate the region’s outlook for the memory of the world programme within that MOU to be signed between Caricom and UNESCO at the General Assembly in November.
We know there are many, many areas in which we need to focus the heritage and I’d like to also stir attention away from the printed heritage which we all know limits us to the last few hundred years to other elements of record also recognised by the memory of the world register – to also consider other forms of documentation – items on stone, craft, recordings, visuals.
As we know, UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 from a growing awareness of the poor state of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in various parts of the world – looting and dispersal, illegal trading, destruction, inadequate housing and funding have all played a part. Much has vanished forever; much is endangered. So a core element is to raise public awareness and mobilise communities to capture and preserve and promote respect and understanding.
In the region, we need to move quickly to secure our endangered archives – and I draw attention to the invaluable collections of the military history museum in Chaguaramas that contains information on the connections between our islands and South America, unrecorded elsewhere, and which can further expand  the recent inscriptions by Cuba of the  Life and Works of Ernesto Che Guevara, and Columbia’s of Francisco De Miranda and Simon Bolivar and it may be useful to supplement that with the archives of Mr Gaylord Kelshall of the Military History Museum who has researched and written extensively about this period which though recent, has still not been injected into teachings on our history and as the Minister of Education is here with us I’d like to recommend that we look at this immense UNESCO resource and work to revising the materials in the school curriculum – in history, social studies, civics, visual and performing arts, among others. This presents us with an opportunity to revise our textbooks using new research and information s there is need to establish critical synergies between archiving and education soWebiste is not just fossilised – and consider utilising this model of engagement between ministry of education, archive and library and the school system.
I’d also like to suggest that you consider how we may establish a facility to resource and fund acquisition and maintenance of public and private collections: like those of the Chaguaramas Military History Museum, and dozens of others in private collections and establish linkages with these.

And we also need to place some emphasis on capture yet undocumented heritage and utilise digitisation and engage the enthusiasm of our young people to collate data from disappearing knowledge holders.

Lagahoo Tribute: To Independent Spirits. RIP LPP

Louis Homer met me at the gate to the church where his funeral service was in progress against the backdrop of the island’s oldest natural monument – Naparima Hill.
“Whey you doing out here, Louis?” I was about to ask, “shouldn’t you be in there?”
He wore his normal cheeky twinkle, as if to say, ‘You were always somewhere else when I did my field visits, but I knew you would come today. I have to go back inside now. Over to you.’
An immediate rebutt was already on my lips: ‘Whey yuh chain?’ He would understand that I meant the paraphernalia folkloric lagahoos are reputed to drag in the afterlife, since he had now migrated to the other side. Picong was always part of our discourse.
Inside the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church on Harris Promenade, San Fernando, a bouquet of red roses draped a coffin in which Louis’ body was being prepared for send off. Eulogists were recalling his life, his incessant energy, his annoying persistence, his long list of interests and skills, his relentless spirit, his passion for history and heritage.
The usher to his funeral service at the church door invited me to sign the condolence book which had one dotted line for memories of Louis. Louis and I were colleagues in two areas: journalism and heritage, and then some. Journalists may not be the most liked of persons; chroniclers of history are perhaps more appreciated especially by the direct communities they touch. Our society finds a way to isolate each sentiment and express its love or dis-love accordingly. The not-too-packed church reflected this ambivalence.
I looked around for the man who met me at the gate but he was nowhere in sight. It couldn’t have been Louis. Louis would never allow me, nor anyone else, the last word. On the Tourism Heritage Committee, everyone else had to compete with Louis for air time. His last words to me were: “is now you and Eintou (Springer).” It took me a while to realise he was referring to our contributions on the committee – we were two of the most vocal and he annoyingly unceremoniously cut into anything one was trying to say. That was at the meeting that preceded the most recent one which was the day when his heart failed.
It brought back another heart failure two years earlier, and the sound of the dull thud as the body fell from the chair to the floor, her words echoing with the thud, ‘I am tired. I have no more words.’
Pat Bishop’s heart gave up at the emotive meeting of the Expert Committee on Culture and Heritage met at the Twin Towers. Two days earlier she had echoed similar sentiments when she, along with Peter Minshall, Jackie Hinkson, Hans Hanomansingh and a couple others met in lagahoo session with me at the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO. Our blue print for propelling culture and heritage into viable creative industries, drawn from demonstrated successes and knowledge and understanding of the sector, were being stymied by myopic interpretations. They wanted to brainstorm a strategy for the meeting carded two days away that would transform the thinking of those charged as change agents but still steeped in old outlooks and older bad habits.
A Highway to Nowhere
I had grown up in South Trinidad, I told Peter Harris, in our last conversation. I fully lived the daily frustrations of waiting for hours for a taxi, or any vehicle for the matter out of my village because vehicles refused to come through the unkempt, potholed roads.
As a cub reporter just cutting my journalistic tooth in South Trinidad, my duties were the vague ‘covering the South’ – which the deskbound north editors saw as a dot on the map so I still have the first freelancer’s monthly pay check of TT$120 (no, there is no missing zeros there!) which my mom and sister, to their horror, had to supplement for several mre months, despite the fact that I was out of school and now a ‘working woman’ as it didn’t even cover even travel expenses, much less any other expenses.
Covering the South meant traversing the entire southern peninsula, for the most parts inaccessible. Drivers just would not risk the damages to their vehicles to enter a district in flood prone Penal/Barrackpore, the precarious pitch-growing paths of La Brea districts or dirt tracks of other districts in San Francique, Siparia. No one can deny what new transit networks could do to lift access and opportunities to the South.
But does it have to be done by razing of the assets that present the most potential for any success at diversification we may have if we were to break through into the new golden economies – culture, heritage, tourism, agriculture – the renewable industries that would endure long after the oil dried up? What a golden opportunity we have to demonstrated how the some 200 years of industrial 

Image from: http://www.discovertnt.com/userfiles/image/maps/Trinidad/south_09.jpg

development of the district could coincide with exploration in other dimensions – to help us complete the story of our civilisation. How could the planners even fathom the potential when the bases of their planning were still steeped in economics of convenience – tourism seen as cruise shipping; heritage as flag waving; a highway to who knows where.
It was a long conversation. Peter and I discussed some of the many options that were available – that would allow the rural south to have its access routes and the communities to have the assets by which they could grow localised self-initiated, self-supported endeavours that spring from their own talents, and skills and fill the development that the oil and gas and other industries in the area have never been able to.
But as in every other area as we have been witnessing in national life, it is an inconvenient truth that even the greatest advocates of change are nervous of shifting hardened stances. That inflexibility does not only exist in the public service. It is part of our culture. Changing the mindset, transforming orientation and outlooks, should form a substantive part of national budgets if such budgets envisioned change.
As much as the need for diversification is recognised, the baby steps taken to move in that direction becomes only rhetoric to the potential of these unrecognised assets that could ricochet diversification beyond expectations in productive activities that will allow individuals and communities to draw on their own resourcefulness, talents and skills with fulfilling self-sustained livelihoods which exist among us in abundance. Some still cling to the antiquated vision of our grandsires for their children to be doctors and lawyers (as if we really need more lawyers, though perhaps I would haveto eat those words by the end of this article!)
As Keshorn and more recently Jehue have articulated, our young are not as dazzled with escaping to foreign as previous generations were, especially, too, as opportunities abroad are already experiencing global warming, as they are, and drying up. Most youths around me give no thought to migrating and several abroad I know want to return; many would like to be able to stay here and build their lives with opportunities that can fulfil their intelligence and qualifications, not in hyped up exaggerated employment figures that mask underemployment that leave many in the population with a restless, unfulfilled, nervousness. As with Keshorn and Jehue, when they succeed we expect them to embrace heaps of accolades and goodies that they could have done better with in their years of struggle to success.
It is easy to tout change; it is more difficult to effect change, particularly as it requires changes in one’s own outlook in the first instance.
Planners dazzled by the flames of production of petroleum and its by products as the key drivers of economy, tout diversification, while pursuing actions that could destroying the very bases by which we may be able to achieve such diversification – invaluable, irreplaceable natural and cultural assets of the South Trinidad. Naparima Hill stands a living testimony to that.
The bulldozers of the road pavers could in seconds destroy millennia of valuable evidence of our prehistory the potential livelihoods of communities and leave them even more impoverished if these areas so rich in natural and cultural ecosystems were to be destroyed. We would essentially then have a highway to nowhere.
Balanced development
Finding the balance between development and conservation has always been a challenge for planners, but balance, it has been proven already in many areas, is attainable. It takes imagination – of which we have plenty unused, as Pat and Louis might say – and will – which might be in short supply. It is a matter of not just thinking, but acting too, outside the accustomed paths to progress – even the IMF and the World Bank recognise that now!
In that last conversation Peter and I discussed some of the many best practice compromises the plans for a highway could draw on, fulfilling the need for access to remote areas and at the same time protecting a fragile and super-sensitive cultural and natural landscapes which are already in their own right a world heritage – though we would not take the time to put the nuts and bolts in place that would facilitate formal recognition as such. A marriage of the unique industrial heritage and industries in the area with the communities for the model kind of sustainable development that is on everyone’s lips. is not a pipe dream.
I shared with Peter my unfolding research and jaw dropping body of evidence I was accumulating, supported by visits to sites in South America and elsewhere and in comparison with others across the globe, that suggest the broader significance of not just Peter’s pet site, but the entire district of that southern peninsula that stretches from La Brea and Cedros on the Caribbean Sea coast and its connections to South America, to the Atlantic Ocean. As with diversification, national budgets over the last decade have been delivering rhetoric about a knowledge driven economy, and diversification through culture, heritage, tourism and agriculture, but fall short of the actions to effect the shifts that will allow for such development, while at the same time offer and allow us to hold up a more wholesome vision of ourselves that overshadows the trials of the middle passage and extend to, be comparable to, and connect with the antiquity of other civilisations. We have been content to accept it as the district Raleigh discovered – so far from the truth – and apart from a few individual piecemeal efforts, not much of significance had been done to expand our knowledge and understanding of the district in the context of all the new research and activities that is being done elsewhere.
‘You still a baby in this. I have seen this many times over. I am too old now. Is over to you now child. I am too tired,’ Pat had said. Shortly after her death, Peter Minshall called me expressing similar distress, hoplessness, frustration, and despondence, and exhaustion too! more recently, along smilar lines, Hanomansingh. It is a cross no one wants to bear.
And then there’s Peter, the other Peter. A few months before his heart gave up, earlier this year, archaeologist Peter Harris called seeking support in a desperate bid to save his life’s work – the Banwari site – presumably the oldest known human skeletal remains in this hemisphere which he had discovered forty-odd years ago, though not many were any wiser.
We exchanged knowledge. I told him of sites I had visited – the area where Indonesia’s Java man was discovered was an expansive protected landscape, with museum and research institute; here all we were seeing was a grave site, not the bigger picture – of a time that was still challenging scientists trying to reconstruct and reconnect the missing links. He was preparing a report and wanted to consult with me on the accepted international standards for protection. That was Peter – quiet, soft spoken diplomacy to the end despite his extreme agitation of possibly having to watch his life’s work erased. The proposed highway to Point Fortin would pass dangerously close to the site, and the construction activity threatened to overwhelm whatever additional evidence may still be present, not to mention the quarter acre the myopic planners saw as ‘the site’.
At last visit to Banwari Site with deceased archeologist Peter Harris
Current custodians are happy to just focus on the few square feet of the skeletal site itself with no consideration given to its larger contexts and the surrounding districts. Industry – oil, gas, asphalt – shy away like the quick-fix politicians – from any substantive actions on how the rich harvests of the district 

could also help support exploration of new initiatives that could only add value to the area, and give the span of communities there a different view of themselves, of their place in the scheme of things, while directly opening them up to a whole host of new economic self generated individual-driven cultural and heritage employment opportunities and activities that function complementary to the technical skills of the district’s traditional industries that if at all, only indirectly filter down to them. Planning for the area, or lack thereof, has given no thought to these significant dimensions that could springboard the long neglected districts into 21st century relevance.
Louis, Peter and Pat – three heritage soldiers whose life stories and interests might be different, but whose focus were very similar to each other. They summoned their creative energies to negate the similar frustrations: dinosaur institutions, individuals touting change, but unwilling to take the necessary actions to effect them, then falling into their comfort zone only to replicate bad habits.
Louis, Peter and Pat – three lagahoos – sleepless, tireless explorers and proponents of heritage as essential to endowing the next generation with a sense of place and identity, but also sustainable sources of livelihood from the self initiative, innovation and creativity that spring so naturally from our communities.
Peter was a discoverer, of heritage. He tried to lodge his findings with institutions which reduced their significance to the narrow confines of the myopic limitations these institutions impose on themselves – post independence notwithstanding.
Louis was a hoarder of heritage. His anxiety that they would be lost to the ignorant, or the marauding development bulldozers, meant he was often only-too-willingness to cut, sometime dangerous, corners, as I had pointed out to him in relation to the Ganteaume tombstones in Mayaro which we subsequently found out were in his museum and several other issues that arose on the committee.
Pat Bishop was a creator of heritage.
‘T&T is a place that if you wanted to listen to a concert, you have to create one,’ she would say, and she created concert after concert. Louis wanted a place where our history and heritage could be preserved so he created a museum. I got the message: if I wanted people to read my books, to read local authors, I should create my own literacy and literary movement – and that means, in the absence of accessible systems to do so, inspire literary appreciation, educate, research, write, publish, market, distribute, promote, cajole, lobby, etc; that, and expect potential heart failure.
That is our social culture. It is a cultural norm that we do not acknowledge. In not acknowledging it we cannot address it. The story of inertia in the heritage, culture and tourism sectors – still largely viewed as cruise ships and flag waving – while our frustrated youths, seeing the unfulfilled potential around them, take up arms. It is not much different for any of our other sectors and the systems in the functions and attitudes that govern them.
That is also in our political culture: if you want changes in governance, create a political party. If that party falls short, you create another one. It is the same dynamics that have generated the mushrooming of more than 7000 civil society organisations across the country – a CSO/NGO each for less than three quarters of a square kilometre if one wants to get statistical, each championing a cause seen more relevant to the several others it may be duplicating.
Inflexibility and the absence of commitment to transform, change, and evolve; the lack of proper mechanisms, infrastructure and facilities for national assets that will ensure adequate protection of our national assets, including heritage assets encourage citizens to take actions in our own hands.
That void is adequate breeding ground for vigilantes.
When state systems fall down civic-minded citizens are left to take up the slack, until even the state begins to support corner-cutting, because it fulfils its agenda for politically expedient quick fixes, while the preparation of the substantive mechanisms and infrastructures are put on hold. By whatever name one wants to call it, it is vigilante action, fostered because the existing institutions charged with those responsibilities show little interest, understanding or willingness to take the necessary actions to transform themselves to become more relevant to evolving and dynamic social changes and expectations. The vigilantes become heroes. That’s what happens on this side of the fence, of those like Louis, Pat and Peter, who worked to protect, secure, build a future in villages and communities for other generations.
It is not rocket science, if we connect the dots. It is no different and just as much the cultural norm of what happens on the other side of the fence: those other community leaders, gang leaders, those propagating another kind of laga-hoodlumism, the other kind of vigilante justice…
The race is on and the bets may be already fixed on who’s going to win the war; and who will die trying!
If only we knew ourselves…
R.I.P. Louis. Peter. Pat. Happy Independence! From those of us independent, but still dragging lagahoo shackles on this side!

Take back communities from so-called leaders

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Take back schools and communities from so-called community leaders, chair of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Kris Rampersad told educators last week.

She was addressing the closing ceremony of a joint initiative by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education in Port of Spain for pilot training of some 125 principals, school supervisors and teachers.

kris_rampersad2.jpg
Dr Kris Rampersad, Chair of Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO

“For too long our children have been kidnapped and our society has been hijacked and held to ransom by bandits and criminals who are held up as community leaders and to whom, tragically, the society now seems to be turning for advice to address the very problems they create. You are the community leaders,” Rampersad told the graduates, before they were presented certificates of completion of the course, Leading for Literacy Now!

“For too long the schoolmaster and mistress who were once significant and pivotal axes of social life in our villages and districts, have either abdicated their roles as leaders or been forced out of them by other social pressures,” she continued.

The educators participated in a pilot training in leadership skills training towards improving literacy levels beginning with primary schools with special focus on teachers of Infant I and II. A national call was made by the Commission through the Education Ministry and the participants were selected from voluntary applicants.

“For too long we have been held to ransom by bandits and criminals in the guise of leaders and social and community leaders. We ask you now to go back and reclaim those spaces; to see yourself and to present and represent yourselves as the leaders that you are. To put your hands up proudly when there are calls for meetings and discussions and consultations with community leaders and say that you are leaders in your community. We ask you that you return to your schools to no longer cower before bullying parents and misguided children and take charge!” Rampersad said.

She noted that the course has helped equip and tool principals and teachers to return to the new school term with fresh perspectives and approaches to face some of the challenges they may confront.

The exercise was conducted by facilitators from the UK-based National Training College for School Leadership with financial and other technical support from UNESCO, the Ministry of Education, the National Commission, BMobile and the Army Leadership Training Centre of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment.

“We ask you to use what you have learnt here to not just influence but to transform the directions of our education system and by extension our society as well,” Rampersad urged, noting a growing nervousness in the society enveloped in a wind of change that is causing considerable restless and which requires solid management of the processes of change and transformation.

Acknowledging that the problems facing educators are many, and not insignificant, she challenged the trainees to take their learning back to school and expressed the hope to see positive results by as early as the end of the first term – by December 2013.

“Three months is a very long time in the life of a child, and we know how much they can learn in short a short period. We need to capture their minds and imaginations before someone else does,” Rampersad pointed out.

She said the participants will be engaged in continuous assessment and will share their experiences and recommendations for expanding the programme to all schools and districts of Trinidad and Tobago, adding that commitment for such support has already been expressed by the Ministry of Education.

“We do not deny that the challenges are many and these times demand all our energies and intelligence to manage the changes that are inevitable. We have to ensure that such management occurs and we do not have the negative repercussions as we are witnessing taking place in Egypt and Syria and elsewhere. Let us manage and redirect the changes that are inevitable, drawing from your wisdom and experiences to positively impact our youth and harness their restless energies for change,” Rampersad said. “It will require open-mindedness, flexibility and a lot of patience.”

She also noted that, once the expected results are realised, the Commission hopes to be able to hold up Leading for Literacy Now this as a model project to UNESCO to share with the Caribbean and its global community.

https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal
 http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Take-back-communities-from-so-called-leaders%2C-says-Trinidad-UNESCO-chair-17393.html

Let’s take back our comunities from so-called community leaders

Closing Remarks, Dr Kris Rampersad Chair, National Commission for UNESCO,  at
Leading for Literacy Now! National Workshop for Principals and Teachers
Sister Francis Xavier Heritage Hall, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain
August 25 2013

One of the advantages in living in a place like Trinidad and Tobago is that we have easy access and exposure to the good books of the many and varied cultures, ethnicities and religions that make up our society.
One of our good books tells us that the world was created in six days.
Mrs Elizabeth Crouch, Principal of Marina Regina Prep School and head of the education sector committee of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO lead principals, school supervisors and teachers in the joint UNESCO/Ministry of Education initiative Leading for Literacy Now!
We have come to the sixth day of this our week-long efforts to begin to recreate and transforming our world, the communities and the spaces and the schools we occupy, as Leaders for Literacy, Now!
Do we feel more empowered? Do we feel better prepared and better tooled? We, of the National Commission for UNESCO of Trinidad and Tobago, and our project partners, the Ministry of Education, BMobile and the UK-Based National Training College for School Leadership and the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment hope that we have met and fulfilled some of those expectations that we outlined at the beginning of this week and when this training preparation began with you earlier this year and with us since last year.
We thank you for investing your time and energies and visions with us, and now we have some expectations of our own. We want results and returns on this investment – not just the more than half a million dollars UNESCO and the Ministry of Education with our project partners are investing in this, but also in the energies and ideas we have shared and exchanged.
We well recognise that many of you function under very challenge personal and professional situations. We well recognise that the tasks with which you are charged as principals and teachers are by no means easy. We well recognise that sometimes the diversity of our society demands constant readjustments to varying expectations.
But we want to challenge you now to go forth and reclaim your places as bonafide community leaders. For too long the term, and the role of leaders in our communities have been hijacked by not too savoury elements who are being held up as the role models for our youths and children. For too long we have watched our children being kidnapped by forces and influences that we wanted to think were beyond our control. For too long the schoolmaster and mistress who were once significant and pivotal axes of social life in our villages and districts, have either abdicated their roles or been forced out of them by other social pressures. For too long we have been held to ransom by bandits and criminals in the guise of leaders and social and community leaders.
We ask you now to go back and reclaim those spaces; to see yourself and to present and represent yourselves as the leaders that you are. To put your hands up proudly when there are calls for meetings and discussions and consultations with community leaders and say that you are leaders in your community.
We ask you that you return to your schools to no longer cower before bullying parents and misguided children and take charge!
We ask you to use what you have learnt here to, as I said at the opening, not just influence the directions of our education system and by extension of our society, but to transform it.
You are the community leaders. You are agents of change and transformation.
It is no secret that we live in not just interesting, as Confucius is said to have said, but also in challenging times; times that demand all our energies and intelligence to manage the winds of change that are blowing and that all of us are feeling in our schools and in our districts. We need to manage these changing times so we do not have the negative repercussions as we are witnessing taking place in Egypt and Syria and elsewhere. We need to direct and redirect the changes that are inevitable, drawing from your own wisdom and experiences to positively impact our youth and harness their restless energies for change.
It certainly will require a few qualities that cannot be learnt in a classroom – open-mindedness, flexibility, and patience – but we do hope that this classroom has provided you with some formulas by which you can assess and understand how to acquire and cull those qualities.
As the same good book said, on the seventh, the Creator rested. I don’t think that meant that for you, not for us.
Tomorrow, we go on our drill with the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment which is promising us through the Army Leadership Training Centre, a one-day outdoor team-building and risk training exercise to what you already know and have learnt of leadership.
Like us at the National Commission, the Army Leadership Training personnel recognise that this is particularly important in the dynamic environment in which you find yourself working everyday in our schools. They acknowledge your role as principal and educator as paramount in carving and manipulation this chameleon environment in which you function, in dealing with students and staff and parents from all walks of life and with varying morals, values, and social skills that require some extra special skills to help you cope with situations where the answers may either be nowhere in sight, or just under your nose; where the success of the team will not depend on the strength of any one individual or where achieving overall success may depend on the subordination of personal objectives.
So that’s the task of the seventh day, tomorrow – not to rest, but as the ones created for the task, to continue the good work to go forth and multiply these learnings into your schools and communities. To Lead for Literacy, Now!
Because we all know what the power of literacy is. We are all living examples of that – of how our ability to read and to interpret a line, a page, a book can transform how we see ourselves, how we view others and how to make informed and intelligent choices when confronted with difficult options, or no options at all. That has been my experience as a reader, from districts and schools and homes just like the ones you serve.
And it is our sense of personal responsibility that has inspired my Leaves of Life drive for a revolution in reading, to inspire reading in unorthodox ways; and it is the sense of collective responsibility that inspired Mrs Crouch and our team of the National Commission, and the Ministry of Education in planning and organising this Leading for Literacy, Now! We are building a team and I am sure too an army, for change.
We envision that in the forty schools from which you were drawn, voluntarily, we will begin to see results in learning and literacy – in the ability of our children to read as early as the end of the first term – by December, yes December 2013 – we all know that three months is a very long time in the life of a child and they can learn much in such a short space of time. Are we ready for that! We must claim their minds and imaginations before someone else does.
We also envision that from forty districts in Trinidad and Tobago, we will begin to see an impact on perceptions and beliefs of who are our real community leaders; who are really in charge; and to whom our society should turn when it needs advice and directions and leadership. You! Are we ready for that?
As we promised at the beginning, we will continue to encourage you to not only keep up the dialogue, but translate it into actions within your own spheres and share it with your peers, in other schools and districts as we assess the outcomes of this and get ready to draw in more of our principals and teachers and children as we have been mandated by the Minister of Education.
Yes, we were very serious when we titled this Leading for Literacy, Now! Let as take back our communities; let us take back our children, as leaders, Now!
I thank you.
PHOTO CAPTION: Mrs Elizabeth Crouch, Principal of Marina Regina Prep School and head of the education sector committee of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO lead principals, school supervisors and teachers in the joint UNESCO/Ministry of Education initiative Leading for Literacy Now! Photo Courtesy Kris Rampersad

Culling leaders for literacy among principals and teachers

Opening Remarks,
Chair, National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Kris Rampersad at
Leading for Literacy Now! training workshop
Sister Francis Xavier Heritage Hall, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain
19August 2013
Culling Leaders for LiteracyMine is the pleasure to welcome you to the opening of this round of training in our project leading for literacy now, on behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO.
 This project, Leading for Literacy Now, represents what we envision as the ideal blend of commitment, energy and drive in taking responsibility and taking action in transforming our society and the spaces we occupy, improving our communities and lifting the life chances of the youngsters and next generation of leaders in our charge.
You may well recognise the urgency we ascribe to this intervention, as we seek solutions to cull leaders for literacy, Now, as indeed – all of us must surely be attuned to the news – for every minute that we lose focus we run the risk of losing another child to one of the many delinquencies and distractions that compete for their attention.
With its ideal mix of stakeholders – it includes a confluence of vision and energies – funding support from UNESCO’s international participation programme  and the Ministry of Education to meet our budget for this pilot exercise of almostsix hundred and sixty two thousand, dollars ($661,720.00), one quarter of which comes from UNESCO’s funds and the remaining three quarters from the Ministry of Education, and indeed we must thank the Minister of Education for his wholehearted endorsement of this endeavour.
This leading for Literacy Now! project, represents an exercise in our collective as well as individual responsibility evident in the commitment of the policy and decision makers in the Minister of Education, Dr Gopeesingh who has provided unflinching support not just in funding approval but also in the involvement of technical staff of his Ministry; the engagement of technical expertise of the UK-based National College for School Leadership; principals and teachers and of course we at the National Commission and especially the very hard working and committed team of its education sector committee, headed by Mrs Crouch, and including:
Mr Bhadase Seetahal Maraj from the Ministry of Education; Dr Sandra Gift of the University of the West Indies; Mrs Shayphan Smith of the Ministry of Tertiary Education; Ms. Lucia Phillip, Executive Director of NALIS; Mrs Liseli Daaga with broad community and NGO experience; alongside the work of the secretariat led by Ms Susan Shurland; Programme Officer Ms. Hannah Katwaroo; and Research Assistant Mr. Sean Garcia.
I particularly look forward to the session on risk management and leadership drill with the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, that certainly is an example of the out of-the-box synergies required to make be effective and make an impact, by engagement other national agencies and institutions in our efforts to Lead for Literacy, Now!
This project forms part of the UNESCO “10,000 Principals Leadership Programme” launched by the UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova in 2011 as a global project to improve the quality of teaching and learning opportunities for children. It envisions training of some 10,000 principals with the intended multiplier effect to benefit thousands of teachers and principals and millions children across the globe.
Our National Commission has literacy as a top priority of our national agenda, as it is in among the Ministry of Education’s 16 national priority focus areas for education.
In this context, earlier this year the Commission unanimously took a decision to contextualise this project within what we declared as A Decade for Literacy, endorsed by the Ministry of Education, as we well recognise that it does not end here with the end of this course next Sunday or the end of the pilot a few months hence.
Indeed, it is only a beginning as we task you with taking your learnings from here, into your schools and communities, tooled with the core training activities that speak directly to some of those urgent needs within our society for leaders, for which the schools that are in your charge are the incubators, hence the inclusion of such topics as team building, organisational management, using and generating research and data, and certainly what we have been seeing as greater and greater needs in the dynamic environment in which we function today – risk management and most importantly managing change.
Beyond the immediate intentions of providing you – principals and teachers – with leadership skills so you return to the new school term with new tools to improve reading standards among students, this places you at the forefront of the agenda for change and transformation of our society into the next decade – you are not just influencers of the process, you are the transformers of it!
We have been following keenly the sharing of knowledge and ideas that have been taking place on our Leading for Literacy Now! web platform and are inspired by the cross fertilisation of ideas and energies. We encourage you to not only keep up the dialogue, but translate it into actions within your own spheres so that one of the outcomes of this programme can be the boast of all of us that, under our watch no child was left behind.
For our part at the National Commission, given the commitment we have seen to this project and the unwavering support of all concerned, we anticipate such successes that we are looking to pitch this as a model project that can be adapted for our Caribbean counterparts as well as indeed the global community of UNESCO which maintains education among the five key pillars of its focus including communications and information, science, culture, and social and human sciences.
 We look forward to receiving your reflections on this and recommendations at the end of this exercise and certainly look forward to the greatly empowered role you will play when the new school terms begins next week.
I thank you.

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WINDS of POLITICAL CHANGE Previous blog on Demokrssy

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TT Spotlight in LiTTribute to LondonTTown

TT HIGH COMMISSION HOSTS ‘LITTRIBUTE TO LONDON TTOWN”

 
On Monday 15th July, the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission to the UK hosted the book launch of Dr. Kris Rampersad’s ‘LiTTscapes’, in an event titled “LiTTributes to London TTown”. At the launch, the cultural and social settings of Trinidad and Tobago were examined and illustrated through the timeless words of the islands’ local writers and stunning photography depicting the natural scenery. 
High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Garvin Nicholas stated, “The Trinidad and Tobago High Commission is pleased to showcase the work of one of our talented local authors. In ‘LiTTscapes’, Dr. Rampersad has brought to light Trinidad and Tobago’s rich literary tradition and unique heritage. This event will provide an important platform for highlighting the complex history and fascinating social landscape of Trinidad and Tobago to a British audience”. 
‘LiTTscapes’ was launched in Trinidad and Tobago in August 2012 as one of the key publications focusing on the country’s 50th Anniversary of Independence. It represents Trinidad and Tobago in words and pictures through some 100 works by some 60 writers, including Earl Lovelace, Sam Selvon, VS Naipaul, Michael Anthony and Derek Walcott.  
The evening featured various readings from the book by several specially invited guests, including Trinidadian writer Dr. Lakshmi Persaud, author of ‘Butterfly in the Wind’, among other works. Dr. Persaud interspersed her reading with lively personal reflections of her time growing up in Trinidad and painted a vivid picture of the island’s town and people. Another featured guest was the presenter of ‘BBC World Have Your Say’, Ros Atkins, who delivered an enlightening perspective of his brief time spent living in Trinidad as a young boy. “One thing that is fascinating about the people of Trinidad and Tobago is your sense of cultural self sufficiency,” he declared. “It is a refreshing attitude from a people who are fiercely proud of their culture but do not need validation from an external audience”.
In discussing her inspiration behind producing ‘LiTTscapes’, Dr. Rampersad said, “As an educator in Trinidad and Tobago, I have witnessed our people grappling with illiteracy and a negative attitude towards reading and education in general. It is my hope that ‘LiTTscapes’ can reawaken readers’ interest in their surrounding and how they connect to society”.

BioCultural synergies at LiTTribute to LondonTTown

The ecology, literature, culture, sustainable development and their convergence in Caribbean fiction will feature at LiTTribute to LondonTTown to take place in London on Monday (July 15).
The symbolic and actual representations of nature in fiction from the section NaTTurescapes in LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad will be among the highlights of the literary tribute that aims at exploring new approaches to culture-centred development.
Among those to participate in the LiTTribute will be Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, Vijay Krishnarayan, the Trinidad-born former head of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute who has worked with civil society to devise actions for sustainable development through land-use planning.
BBC World Have Your Say Host, Ros Atkins and London-based Caribbean author, Lakshmi Persaud will also present perspectives on cultural linkages across the Atlantic.
High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Garvin Nicholas views the event as an important platform for highlighting the complex history and fascinating social landscape of Trinidad and Tobago to a British audience and notes that In ‘Littscapes’, Dr. Rampersad has brought to light Trinidad and Tobago’s rich literary tradition and unique heritage.
As has been the vision behind production of LiTTscapes, LiTTous and LiTTributes, this will demonstrate the connectivities between and among what may seem widely disparate subjects and disassociated development challenges. These may be peculiar to our national communities but the also have resonance internationally. This has been the thread that runs through our activities and the book itself which explores the natural environment, peoples, lifestyles in the context of fiction.
As has been done in LiTTributes held earlier this year – to the Mainland in Guyana and to the Antilles in Antigua  – this will encourage  rethinking how we may better engage with and utilise the rich literary outpourings as represented in LiTTscapes to develop synergies with the international community for social and economic development in film, music, entertainment and education sectors.
LiTTscapes represents this relationship from the earliest writings of Sir Walter Raleigh to the current day among the 100-plus works by more than 60 writers, including those who made London their home such as Naipaul, Selvon, Lakshmi Seetaram-Persaud and others. For invitations to LiTTribute to LondonTTown email lolleaves@gmail.com.
LiTTscapes has been acclaimed as a groundbreaking pictoral yet encyclopaedic compendium of the lifestyles, landscapes, architecture, cultures, festivals and institutions in its full colour easy reading documentary/travelogue/biography representation of Trinidad and Tobago and its fiction as represented in more than 100 fictional works by some 60 writers.
LiTTribute to LondonTTown follows on the recent LiTTribute to the Antilles staged in Antigua in March,  LiTTurgy to the Mainland in Guyana in February, and LiTTribute to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, hosted by the First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards and Dr Rampersad in September 2012. LiTTscapes was launched at White Hall – one of Trinidad and Tobago’s Magnificent Seven buildings as part of the islands 50th anniversary of independence in August 2012.
LiTTscapes is Rampersad’s third book and follows Finding a Place and Through The Political Glass Ceiling; a fourth Letters to Lizzie, an exploration of empire making and colonialism in the contexts of the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and the golden jubilee of Trinidad and Tobago’s independence is to be released shortly.
For invitations and details Email: lolleaves@gmail.com. See: kris-rampersad.blogspot.com, https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal;  facebook.com/kris.rampersad1.

London stage set for literary tribute from Trinidad and Tobago

London, the seat of governance of British Empire, is geared up for a literary tribute that recognises the relationship and influences on the rich repertoire of fiction from Trinidad and Tobago.
LiTTribute to LondonTTown, the fifth in a series of international tributes by author of LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago, Kris Rampersad, takes place in mid July.
Among those who will join Rampersad at the LiTTribute will be Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, Vijay Krishnarayan.
Krishnarayan, who was born in Central Trinidad, took the reins of the London-based foundation last year, after serving as deputy director. He was a former managing partner of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) and has had an enduring interest in environment management, land use planning and empowerment of civil society.
“This link with land use and the environment through Krishnarayan is not accidental,” Rampersad said, noting that LiTTscapescelebrates the physical and natural environment and its pictorial representations of the islands’ landscapes through the eyes of some 60 writers in more than 100 works of fiction on Trinidad and Tobago. She added:
“Nor is the connection with civil society, as all our efforts are to reposition the creative sector towards self sustenance through national and international networking and partnerships and enterprises. We are trying to encourage conversations and interactions between the multiple dimensions of the development agenda in which the creative sector has a central role.
Rampersad, will speak on the theme LiTTerary ReTTributions drawing from life and fictional experiences and explore the impact of not only British literature on Trinidad and Tobago, but also in forging cultural connections with the entire British empire and the wider world
Ambassador to London, Garvin Nicholas said: “The High Commission embraced this opportunity to host showcasing of LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago and its associated LiTTours and LiTTevents as the kind of innovative and out of box synergies were are trying to promote in our international outreach. We are well aware of the potential of the vision being articulated in LiTTscapes, located as we are in London – a city that has such a dynamic association with the arts.”
Said Rampersad: “As with other LiTTributes held earlier this year – to the Mainland in Guyana and to the Antilles in Antigua  – this will encourage  rethinking how we may better engage with and utilise the rich literary outpourings as represented in LiTTscapes to develop synergies with the international community for social and economic development in out of the box synergies including for film, music, entertainment and education sectors.
The LiTTribute to LondonTTown follows similar connections held with the South American continent in Guyana earlier this year and the Caribbean island archipelago in Antigua in March, after the book’s launch as aprt of the independence jubilee celebrations in 2012 and the ensuing LiTTribute to the Republic. Other such activities are earmarked for North America and Asia in 2014.
Rampersad who is a journalist and educator in Caribbean culture and heritage noted that LiTTscapes represents this relationship from the earliest writings of Sir Walter Raleigh to the current day among them many who made London their home as Naipaul, Selvon, Lakshmi Seetaram-Persaud and others.
 LiTTscapes has been acclaimed as a groundbreaking pictoral yet encyclopaedic compendium of the lifestyles, landscapes, architecture, cultures, festivals and institutions in its full colour easy reading documentary/travelogue/biography representation of Trinidad and Tobago and its fiction.
For information and invitations email lolleaves@gmail.comor visit: Blog: www. kris-rampersad.blogspot.com; Website: https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal 

Call made to preserve local heritage

Opening Remarks
Dr Kris Rampersad, Chair of the National Commission for UNESCO at the Community Based Inventorying Workshop, Trinidad and Tobago, June 22, 2013.

 On behalf of the National Commission for UNESCO greetings and welcome to this the third in a series of Caribbean based workshop in Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Jamaica, funded by the Government and people of Japan to help our societies safeguard for future generations our intangible living heritage.

This is of course one of several capacity building exercises in which the National Commission is engaged to help develop national capacity, whether it is in creating classrooms like this or sending nationals to benefit from UNESCO training and capacity building opportunities elsewhere.
In this, today we are one step closer to safeguarding our intangible cultural heritage through the mechanisms and provisions of the in Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention – often referred to as the 2003 Convention
It is one of several conventions, quasi legal instruments promoted by UNESCO, to capture, preserve and share the rich diversity of our lifestyles and cultures with each other and promote peace and understanding among our communities and between societies.
This is an exercise to empower our communities and practitioners and knowledge holders in retaining and transmitting knowledge, skills and practices as much as it is in strengthening the mechanisms for researching, documenting, archiving, inventorying for the benefit of future generations.
We think of and lament loss of those knowledge holders who have taken stock of knowledge with them: like Peter Harris who died recently with much of his research and knowledge of prehistoric societies of Trinidad and Tobago passing with him without our realisation of how such knowledge could enrich our understanding of ourselves and of our societies and for our future generations. We must move quickly to capture the accumulated knowledge and experiences these knowledge holders have and let that be part of our thinking when we think of drawing up our inventories – who are some of the most critical sources of knowledge that we should reach before we lose them and irretrievably, too, lose their knowledge.
We are here to strengthen identification of who and what we are; to quote a popular calypso  – how we does walk, how we does talk, how we does cook, how we does lime and wine, key elements that place us among representatives of the sea of humanity that is the UNESCO community.
The focus of this convention on intangible cultural heritage is on the living expressions, knowledge and skills and traditions in the performing arts, oral traditions, practices, beliefs, festivals
Though intangible, we know that they are pivotal to holding the diverse fabric of our social tapestry together, to help intercultural dialogue among ourselves and with communities similar or different elsewhere to promote and, encourage mutual respect for one another.  This exercise is part of the mechanism to particularly address what is a common cry among us; to define and promote inclusivity, to make communities feel represented, understood and respected in the national milieu.
We will find in this process much that we are doing well, and we would want to table these and inventory them among the best practices we would want to share with the rest of the world.
In other areas, we can use the help, particularly in developing infrastructure, systems and processes to respect and value what we have.
A most significant element of this convention is the importance and value it places on communities as central to the smooth running of state apparatus – a fact that sometimes get lost within our bureaurcracies and macro based policies and positioning.

(From left) Discussing safeguarding national heritage at the opening of the workshop on UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage are: facilitators Rieks Smeets, Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO Dr Kris Rampersad; Minister of Arts and Multicultralism Dr Lincoln Douglas, Ambassador of Japan Yoshimasa Tezuka, facilitator, Harriet Deacon, and culture specialist in the UNESCO Jamaica regional office, Hima Gurung. Photo courtesy Kris Rampersad

Call made to preserve local heritage
http://ctntworld.com/cnews2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5505:call-made-to-preserve-local-heritage&catid=137:c-news&Itemid=707
“We cannot allow our unique traditions to die out with the older generation.” That was the message delivered on Saturday by the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Dr. Lincoln Douglas, who said our cultural heritage must be preserved for future generations.
He spoke at a Workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Kapok Hotel.
In keeping with the guidelines laid out in the UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, many local cultural practitioners participated in the workshop.
The Minister said the store of knowledge, which is passed down from generation to generation, is fading and must be collected and documented.
Dr. Kris Rampersad, the Chairperson of the National Commission for UNESCO, said although this country is small in size and more vulnerable to external influences, we can become a strong counter-cultural force if we are secure in our cultural identity.
She said a greater focus on local content on television is needed to promote culture.
The Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism is the keeper of the flame and Minister Douglas said the “Remember When Institute” will serve as a storehouse of the collective cultural conscience for generations to come.

Inventorying of living heritage builds momentum in Trinidad and Tobago


20 June 2013 – Community practitioners, government officials and members of non-governmental organizations are mobilizing themselves for a national workshop on inventorying of intangible cultural heritage to be held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from 22 June to 1 July 2013.  
Organized by the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO, the Ministry of the Arts & Multiculturalism of Trinidad and Tobago and the UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, the workshop marks a significant step in safeguarding the living heritage of Trinidad and Tobago. It will focus on community participation in the identification and inventory of intangible cultural heritage, organization and management of information, and hands-on experience in preparing field work. The field activity will be reinforced by a pilot inventory activity to follow in proceeding months.
Funded by the Government of Japan, the workshop is part of a sub-regional project being implemented in Belize, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago within the context of UNESCO’s global strategy on capacity building to safeguard intangible cultural heritage. It will be conducted by two experts from the UNESCO facilitators’ network: Harriet Deacon and Rieks Smeets.