In order of importance, most citizens would likely place the Finance and Energy ministries as particularly critical to the well being of Trinidad and Tobago in both the short and medium term.
Having said that, I would like to suggest that Planning and Development and Education are not far behind in order of having the major impact on where we go from here.
This is because the only way we can achieve real progress as a nation going forward, is to develop a holistic development and transformation plan that will ultimately lead to numerous clusters of excellence in so many areas of national life.
The Planning Ministry must co-ordinate with all the other ministries to get the necessary input to creating a compelling and all encompassing vision for the nation’s aspirations. This vision must then be developed into a mission statement, followed by the setting of realistic objectives, which will lead to the creation of insightful strategies and action plans, thereby providing citizens with quantifiable deliverables, in a strict time frame.
A crucial component of the plan has to be the hiring of the most capable and not the most loyal. Also, those who are unable to perform to the highest and most exacting standards must be replaced in quick time.
Now, the plan for developing the education system will obviously call for a complete overhaul of the currently outdated curriculum, across the board.
Even more importantly, the plan will need to develop specific strategies and foolproof mechanisms that include the non stop monitoring of all children as they progress through the system.
This will include regular cognitive and aptitude testing, along with constant career guidance to ensure that all of our young people exit the education system with real income earning skills and ready to make a positive contribution to the country.
Of necessity the programme will include a component that mandates compulsory registration in either a trade school, cadet core, army or coast guard for those less academically inclined young people who consistently fail to achieve passing grades in the school system. You can call this component of the programme a form of national service, but at the end of the day, the core objective is to ensure that no child or young person is left behind,to wander into a life of crime.
As we stand right now, there are thousands of youths in T&T, who are unemployed or underemployed, many of whom see no option but to drift into various forms of illegal activity.
Therefore, as a matter of the utmost urgency, we have to get our planning and education sectors performing at an optimum level is there is to be any hope of a positive future for the country we all love so much.