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Community Articles,

The Next Generation. Prepare them to be Patriotic to Turks and Caicos Islands

Introduction

Today most families including mine are having their children abroad especially in United States. (By the way, it is not just Turks and Caicos Islanders doing this, residents from other countries that live in TCI are doing the same thing).

At the end of the day, it is people’s business where they have their children. That is a personal decision as there are many reasons why people opt to have their children abroad.  The birth place of an individual should not determine one’s patriotism. I know many individuals who were born abroad to TCI parents and are very patriotic to TCI. Ironically, I know there are persons who were born in TCI to TCI parents who are also not patriotic.  However, there are quite a number of parents having children abroad who are not instilling patriotism to TCI in their children.

I admire persons who left TCI many years ago and continue to be patriotic to TCI. It bothers me when people who were born outside of TCI to TCI parents and live here most of their lives still do not consider themselves Turks and Caicos Islanders. Therefore, the question is, how do we plan to prepare the next generation to be patriotic to TCI.  I believe we must instill a sense of patriotism into our children. Otherwise our next generation may not see any benefit of being patriotic to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

Starts at Home

I believe patriotism should start at home. As parents we must set an example for our children and instill the love of TCI in them. In United States of America, when a child is born, that child is automatically a citizen of the USA. Some parents brag about how their children are Americans and never refer to their children as Turks and Caicos Islanders. Yes, they are United States Citizens but they are also Turks and Caicos Islanders.

Some of us are complaining about others coming here and taking over but yet some of us are not promoting patriotism to our own. There are too many examples I can share.

I recalled a parent whose child was born in the USA and the child was not behaving well. The parent remarked and said “Oh that child cannot help it, that child is American” I was shocked. That child was only born in USA but never lived there so how can his behavior be adapted from America.

Another example is a national dish school event, a parent did not give that child a Turks and Caicos dish, a parent provided that child with a fast food dish from America saying that child is an American.

There are some parents who have yet to get a Turks and Caicos passport or British passport for that child. That child only has the American passport. Perhaps some may argue that there is no need but let us instill a sense of pride in TCI.

I recalled another parent saying her children cried when she told them she was getting them Turks and Caicos passports.

Friends, the future of our country is in trouble if we continue on this trend. Let our children be proud to be Turks and Caicos Islanders even if they have dual citizenship.

National Heritage Month is coming up in October and all of us should participate in the activity having a sense of pride in the Turks and Caicos Islands by wearing our national costumes.

 

Curriculum in the School

 

I never lived in the Bahamas but I have siblings and of course nieces and nephews there. Based on what I gathered, these children are taught in the school and home a love for the Bahamas.

We must do the same thing in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Patriotism for Turks and Caicos should be in the Curriculum at all schools, private and public.  We must also have Turks and Caicos Cultural Studies in our school.  It is really amazing how other events such as Halloween is being promoted in TCI but our local culture is not.

During National Hero’s Day and National Heritage Month, it should be mandatory for every school in TCI to participate in these events raising the Turks and Caicos Flag and wearing the Turks and Caicos National Costumes. There is no point in making these days holidays if we are not going to honour and celebrate them.

Despite our small numbers, let us keep our culture alive by living it everyday at home and at school. Teach our culture and history to those that want to reside here.

 

Some Great Reminders

TCI had a number of men that served in World War 1 and Word War 2.

TCI had men that served along with the British in the Palestine Army.

TCI had men serving as ship captains.

TCI had men as merchant marines who provided supplies to the arm.

TCI had men in Vietnam delivery supplies.

TCI partially funded the Royal Navy Frigate HMS Caicos which was used in the North Sea.

The salt that was produced in TCI was considered the best quality. In fact, the first President of US always requested salt from TCI.  Our salt was also shipped to Japan.

John Glen the first American to orbit the Earth landed near Grand Turk in 1962

The Turks and Caicos Islands were the first place that Christopher Columbus came to in 1492

One of the first set of Students at UWI was from TCI.

JAGS McCartney, our first leader who fought so hard for the rights of Turks and Caicos Islanders.

Trevor Ariza plays in the NBA and his parents are from TCI even though he was born in the USA.

Billy Forbes plays soccer in the United Soccer League.

For the past few years, our beaches have been named as the best beaches in the World.

I know there is more but the above are just some examples of what we need to teach in our schools.

 

Conclusion

Some may not see this as an issue but I believe if we do not do something about promoting patriotism, the passion for TCI by the next generation will die. One of the primary benefits of patriotism is an increased care and love of our country. If we are not patriotic we may not care what is going on and as a result people will continue to do what they want to do such as the building of shanty towns. If we care, we will not only speak out against it, we will do something about.

We must ensure that our next generation of politicians have passion for TCI.  Some of us do not want to be patriotic to TCI but we want all the benefits such as scholarship and the dual citizenship with the UK/TCI.

Let us instill patriotism at home and at school in the few of us that remain.

scholarship
Community Articles,

The Scholarship Deal

Use an ID number on the application rather than the name of the individual. Who Should Fund Tertiary Education?

 

Introduction

Many years ago, our parents’ income were so low that they could never afford to send their children away for higher education. In addition, we did not have any tertiary institutions in TCI. Therefore, many of us depended on the government for funding.

Today, our country economy has change quite significantly for the better and we even have a community college and so as parents we should be in a better position than our parents to invest in the education of our children.

Our present and past governments have always allocated funding for higher education. Today our scholarship budget is roughly more than $4million annually which obviously includes existing and new scholarships. Quite frankly, that is not a lot of money and therefore everyone that applies will not get a scholarship or grant.

 

Government’s Responsibility

I believe that the responsibility of the Government should be to ensure that its citizens are well equipped and educated so that they are able to occupy top positions in the country. However, this does not necessarily have to come through the allocation of scholarships to overseas institutions.

We have a Community College in TCI that is an option for our students to attend. The fees are so affordable. The annual fee for an associate degree is $2000 while the annual fee for the Bachelors degree is $4000. The Community College is also offering programs in conjunction with regional university and also credits are transferrable to schools in USA, UK and Canada.

I also think it is about time Governments stopped talking about wanting to upgrade to a University. We need to act and put a plan in place to achieve this. Yes, it may not happen overnight but let us plan. Once we are able to do, this can solve many of our issues as the Government should not award scholarships to individuals if the subjects can be done locally.

Not all students are academically inclined, I think Government needs to incorporate a technical school in our curriculum asap to accommodate those students offering subjects such as auto mechanic, drawing, plumbing etc.  It should be noted that  Community College is offering some vocational courses. There are other institutions such as Community Vocational Institute also offering technical subjects.

 

Scholarship Policy

I believe that scholarships should remained in place for the top performing local students as a reward for their performance. These students should be able to select any school they wish as long as it is accredited.

I know the Government has a list of schools that are pre-approved but who made up this list and how is the list determine. I believe as long as a school is accredited, that is what should matter.

 

In the meantime, while the Government is focusing on upgrading the TCI Community College or a technical school, then the Government needs to decide its priority areas and aid those applicants. I think priority areas should be teachers, nurses, doctors, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, sports and the careers in the hospitality industry.

With the exception of the top students and needs, TCIG should not be granting scholarships to individuals to study abroad especially if the same course can be done locally at our institution.

 

 

The Citizens Responsibility

Our responsibility as parents and guardians is also to invest in ourselves and our children’s education. Rather than depending on Government for scholarships and blaming the Government and the Board for not awarding scholarships or grants to particular individuals, we need to accept responsibility as well.

I know many of us are living of paycheck to paycheck but we need to set aside funding for our children from the time they were born so that by the time they reach college level, there will be adequate funding for our children’s future. (even if this mean sacrificing a vacation from time to time)

We are so blessed in TCI that we have access to full scholarships or grants no matter what. Some countries cannot boast about this but I know many countries do have their universities and so perhaps there is no need.

 

Scholarship Application Process – Use a Number Process not a Name Basis

I believe that names should be removed from the scholarship application process so that the subjective process of the selection of individuals can be alleviated. I believed that when applicants submit their applications, a number should be assigned to each applicant and the name should be removed and presented to the Board in a summary format of each candidate.

The Board members will be dealing with applicant numbers and not the names of applicant. I am quite sure that some decisions are made based on who we know and your political persuasion. This should not be the case. I reviewed the list of awardees and I can understand why some people are frustrated but by implementing an ID process, the process will be better.

The cut off date for Applications should be March 31st so that students have adequate time for planning. The announcement of scholarships in the month of August is quite unfortunate as it is too close to opening of schools especially in the USA.

 

Conclusion

We all have a part to play in the education of its citizens. Let us stop blaming Government for everything. Blame ourselves for not setting aside funding for the investment of our children. It is not too late. You can start now.

I think funding of tertiary education should not rest solely with the Government. I encourage the Government to form a working group to have an action plan to consider the upgrade from a college to a University.

crime
Community Articles,

12 + 1 Crime Prevention Initiatives

Introduction

The resolution to our crime situation should be the collaborative efforts of our community including the Governor, the Government, the Police Department and our residents. The Crime Situation in TCI is out of hand and must be seriously addressed. It will require a significant increase in our Government budget as well as our personal budget to combat this.

I am aware that the Government has to meet certain financial criteria in order to get a good credit rating but if we do not invest more money in crime initiatives and prevention then everything that we are trying to maintain can be taken away from us in the blink of eye.

Before I proceed any further, let me take this opportunity to offer condolences to all family members that had to face the loss of a loved one as a result of crime.

 

1. The Role of the Church plays a very significant role in the prevention of crime in any society. One of the roles of the church is to teach the word of God to individuals. In this way, they will be grounded in the word of God and do as the word of God says. Unfortunately, nowadays many people are questioning the existence of God. We find a lot of us spend so much time focusing on the pastors rather than the word of God. We also observe that there is a decline in the number of individuals coming to church. Because they are not going to church, parents and their children are not being feed the word of God and as a result they are committing crimes which are contrary to the word of God. There is no fear of God. If there was fear of God, these heinous crimes would not take place. We need to encourage and promote the attendance of church and bible study. One way to do so is through witnessing. Once individuals realize the importance of the church, I believe that the importance of honesty, love and great values will be instilled in families.

2. More Police Officers, More Vehicles and Patrol the Communities – We need to recruit additional experienced police officers to help resolve the crime situation in TCI. The Police Force in my opinion is understaffed. Once we are able to get these additional officers, we will also need additional vehicles. With these resources, we should be able to patrol the communities throughout TCI on a daily consistent basis. The police officers’ presence should be visible and should be at different times throughout the day so the criminals will not be able to predict when the police will be around. The police presence should deter criminals.

3. Mandatory Electronic Fingerprints – It appears that one of the challenges in resolving crime is the lack of evidence. Then we need to make it mandatory that everyone that resides in TCI must have their fingerprints taken. Of course, there will be a challenge with the illegal immigrants but when we get them, we need to fingerprint them as well.

4. Community Neighbourhood Watch – Neighbourhood watches should be implemented in every community in TCI. I find it very useful in the community that my family and I live. We are all on a group chat and we keep each other abreast of any suspicious individuals or cars in our community. I would also suggest that all the Heads of the Neighbourhood Watches collaborate and share ideas. I wish this can be mandatory but not sure how we can do that.

5. Stiffer Penalties for Crimes and Illegal Guns – Perhaps we are too lenient on crimes and illegal guns in our country. Maybe we can deter persons from committing these crimes by making the penalties stiffer and harsher especially if they are found with illegal weapons and drugs.

6. Undercover Cops – I believe that a lot of persons even the police may know who are committing these crimes but it is challenge in proving it. Therefore, the best way to get around this is to recruit undercover cops and have them infiltrate the gangs and the communities where these crimes are being done.

7. After School Intervention Programs – Many people believe that our young people are idle. Some are also joining gangs for various reasons. We cannot lose our next generation and so this requires significant intervention programs. We can have programs after school to cater to our young people. I know we have a youth center that is very active in the community but I think we need more intervention programs. We need to identify those persons in the gangs and provide help. We also need to ensure we reach out to those young people who have not join a gang so we can prevent them from joining.

8. Random Checks of Homes and Vehicle for illegal guns – I am not sure how effective random checks are because as soon as the word spreads that the police are checking homes and vehicles, people will hide their weapons. However, I still think we need to do random checks on homes and vehicles if this is legal. These random checks need to be done simultaneously in different communities.

9. Rehabilitation Programmes for Offenders – It appears many times the crimes are committed by repeated offenders. They are placed in prison and then release and then commit another crime again. I know I mentioned that we should make the penalties stiffer but we must also at the same time institute a rehabilitation program for these offenders. Perhaps there are rehabilitation programs already in place but I cannot confirm. Even if there are, we need to strengthen the programs.

10. Rotate the Police Officers frequently – For obvious reasons, I believe the Police Officers need to be rotated frequently. They should not be on the same island or in the same position very long. We have a number of police officers who are expatriates. If we bring them in for 2 years, do not let them exceed their 2-year contract. Keep rotating them. Familiarity breeds contempt. I am not against expatriate police officers as local police officers also are familiar with everyone but the local police officers have no where else to go unless we do an exchange program with other countries.

11. Cameras in Your Home and Business – As residents, we will also have to invest some of our personal funds in equipping our homes and businesses with surveillance cameras. As I recall, the TCIG has either waived or reduce the duty rate on surveillance cameras for the home and business.

12. Patrol the Waters – Many believed that illegal guns are infiltration our community through the illegal sloops that enter our country. I know that we have a radar system but TCIG need to invest in more boats and drones so that illegal sloops can be detected early. These boats must be checked for illegal weapons and the individuals should get a heavy fine. I know that the TCIG is seeking to get the assistance of the Bahamas which will be great help as well.

13. Safety Net Safe City – E Jay Saunders, a proud Turks and Caicos Islander has designed a technology software that will help solve crimes and save lives. The name of this is Saftey Net City.

SafetyNet Safe City’s Facial Search tool is designed to enable law enforcement to identify “multiple persons-of-interest against a collection of millions of facial images from our ever-growing high-risk database in near real-time”.

E J ‘s company DSS is willing to absorb the installation costs and waive the 1st year fees if the Government is interested in it.

Conclusion

I sincerely believe that crime can be reduced in our country. It will require all of us to play our part. However, the Government will have to be very serious and increase the budget to address some of the initiatives above. In addition, it will require them to change legislation to make it undesirable for someone to commit a crime. I also want to take this opportunity again to congratulate E J Saunders on the design and development of Saftey Net Safe City software, a Turks and Caicos product.

shanty
Community Articles,

Shanty towns

Demolish the Shanty Towns– Give Them one Year’s Notice

Allow Locals to Build Reasonable and Affordable Apartments – Give them concessions/exemptions on the construction materials

 

Introduction

The development of shanty towns is increasing at an alarming rate in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The majority of shanty towns consist of structures that were not only illegally build but were constructed on land that do not belong to them.

I recalled a few years ago, when the planning department provided eviction notices to individuals so that they can start the process of demolishing the illegal shacks but unfortunately, both of the political parties were timid and more or less spoke out against the planning department decision to demolish the illegal shacks in Five Cays at that time.

 

Building Codes

I know it is the plan of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to enforce the building codes. However, the building codes do not apply to shanty towns as these individuals are building without a planning permit anyway and so the code is not applicable.

The building codes apply to individuals who submitted or plan to submit plans to the Planning Department for approval.

If we want to enforce building codes on legal structures, then we should be bold enough to enforce the demolition of the shanty towns.

 

Unfair to Others

When locals or other residents construct a legal structure, they must abide by the building codes. If for any reason, they would to build an illegal structure attached to their homes such as wash house, the relevant authorities will be the first to ensure they get rid of that illegal structure.

Another unfair point is that there are some residents who have built very nice homes but the value of their homes has decreased dramatically because they are surrounded by shanty towns.

Another issue is that some of these same individuals are working in our restaurants and hotels and we are unsure of the sanitary condition which may pose health issues.

Is this fair? It is time to demolish the shanty towns.

 

Give Them adequate Notice

I am conscious that it will require adequate time for these residents to find suitable alternative housing given that we already seem to have a shortage of accommodation especially on the island of Providenciales.

By giving them adequate notice, this will provide them with time to find other housing. This will also give others an opportunity to construct apartments to accommodate individuals.

Therefore, the writer is proposing a one-year notice. However, we must ensure that while this notice is being honoured, there are no new shanty towns being developed.

 

Do not be Afraid

I understand that some civil servants are afraid to go in these areas where the shanty towns are located. Some are afraid because of several issues. TO combat this fear, civil servants should be accompanied with the Police Department.

Some politicians may be afraid due to the impact it may have on the outcome of an election. They do not want to lose any votes and so they may be silent on this issue. Be Bold politicians even if it means losing an election because of your support for the demolition of shanty towns.  Quite frankly, I don’t even think that their votes will make a difference. If you fear this, then ensure that this is a bipartisan approach. I know one thing any government that can deal with the issue of shanty towns will get an overwhelming support from the electorate.

I know there is also a fear from International Bodies regarding human rights and discrimination. What about our rights?

 

No action, more shanty towns

Should we fail to address this issue, our country will continue to be plagued with shanty towns. It is already out of hand. By not doing anything, we are encouraging the promotion of shanty towns in our country. When individuals see no action being taken, they will continue to build more shanty towns. In fact, some of them brag about it.

We have labelled the Turks and Caicos as “Beautiful by Nature” but if we do not watch out, these shanty towns developmentwill surely give us another name, “Ugly by Nature”

 

Recommendations

The government must enforce that every employer needs to provide a physical address of their employees, showing that the employee has a utility bill to provide evidence of residence.  I know this can cause employers to lie about the address of their employees. However, random checks should be made to verify the physical address of employees particularly those on work permits.

We need to invest in drones to identify the location of these shanty towns. Once identified, we need to provide eviction notice to the residents

The Government needs topromote and identify some crown land and allow individuals to build appropriate housing accommodations. Alternatively, the Government must encourage individuals to invest in private land and build accommodations to house individuals.

Demolish the Shanty towns within a year and block access to the areas. We can build community parks in some of these areas where the shanty towns are or we can have a housing development.

The Government must establish a ministry of Housing to address the shanty towns fiasco.

The Government should provide concessions to individuals so that they can construct affordabale and reasonable housing.

 

Conclusion

The issue of shanty towns has been around now for many years. However, until we show people that we are serious about getting rid of shanty towns, shanty towns will continue to develop in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I know there may also be some locals who are building shacks and renting it to individuals as well. This too is unacceptable and should be dealt with.

This issue is out of hand and it is not the Turks and Caicos we know. Be bold and demolish these shanty towns. The Bahamas is well ahead of their plan to demolish the shanty towns despite cries of discrimination.

Turks and Caicos , let us get rid of shanty towns and develop a proper housing structure for our country.

 

Drexwell Seymour

August 11, 2018

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