Every year, the week after the so-called “National Average” is announced, there is national hysteria, as the populace laments the disastrous grade average reported. Governments apologize and promise better results next time. Citizen’s groups demand the revamping of the education system. Politicians distance themselves from the decisions that produced the poor results. Clearly, the need for improved academic results is important to the Bahamian community.

For such a community, then, focused on the importance of academic results, it is surprising that neither theory nor research is important when developing public policies and formulating national strategies. Instead of demanding adherence to theoretical models or the results of real research, we prefer to assume that the conclusions of other jurisdictions when facing similar issues are sufficient, and adopt their solutions, usually encouraged by the same “consultants”.

Here are a few examples.

Our form of government is assumed to be a Parliamentary Democracy, but we are the only people inheriting the form from the British who have neglected to implement the third part of the system – a local level of govern,ent. In fact, we are the only country on earth (except perhaps the Vatican) with a single level of government – the Federal  level. This omission not only denies us effective local administration, but it denies us the opportunity to develop national and political leaders.

No one would question the importance of Junkanoo to the Bahamian community. Yet there has been no significant research into its origins and (more importantly) its meanings. In fact, there has been no effort to advance the work of E. Clement Bethel, produced over a quarter century ago. Yet we have “evolved” a nocturnal community gathering into a winner-take-all beauty contest, held mostly during the day.

Our economy is driven by income from tourism, yet we repeatedly plan and strategize without reference to the business model that determines success in that business.Most of us know in our gut that constructing accommodations is not a key to thriving in tourism, but rather than considering the “theory”, rather than seeking to refine our understanding of the basic business model, we repeat failed initiatives, hoping that this time the results are different.

Crime is a subject on everybody’s lips. But rather than trying to understand how “criminals” are made (that is, how the community makes them), we ask for the public’s advice. We ask people whose response is driven by fear to ignore the root causes of the issue, encourage a reaction to the immediate threat and refuse to take an “academic’ look at the socializing process. Never happen. The theory of human development offers direction, assuming, of course, we believe we are still human.

Instead of research and academic study, we insist on our own genius. Unlike the countries from whom we get the “consultants”, we believe we can govern ourselves by the seat of our pants. The current cultural, social and economic chaos suggests that there is a need for as much concern for our own poor academic performance as for our children. At least they get to repeat the class.

 

Pat Rahming

January 19, 2014

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