Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 03, 2017 (SKNIS): History and Heritage month is a time for reflection, promotion, preservation and sustaining the island’s history and heritage, says Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, Honourable Shawn Richards, speaking at the launch of the month on February 01, 2017.
The theme for this year’s History and Heritage Month is “Statehood: A Milestone to Freedom.” Activities for St. Kitts include an essay writing competition for all secondary schools in the federation, a church service on February 04 at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sandy Point; a history and heritage walk on February 18th to visit Charles Fort and Brimstone Hill; a Statehood lecture on February 23rd at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus by Charles Wilken Q.C.; a cultural fair at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC); the Back to Roots Pageant; a senior citizens social, a panel discussion on February 26th and a primary school quiz. Minister Richards said that it is hoped that the activities planned will make positive changes.
“It’s not merely about reflection, but if at the end of it no changes are made, then I think to some extent we would have wasted our energies,” said the minister.
Minister Richards said that the Ministry of Education is doing its own part to bring that awareness to young people in particular.
“Just last year, we would have launched the new strategy that we are embarking upon,” he said. “UNESCO in particular would have assisted us in doing a study and coming out of that study of the Education Sector here is St. Kitts and Nevis, one of the recommendations is that at the very primary school level we must begin to teach a class basically in culture. So, we will get that appreciation, at that very early age, for who we are as a people.”
The minister said that at an early age, a sense of belonging, respect for self and others and an appreciation of who they are as individuals should be developed within young persons.
“You appreciate your culture, you appreciate your identity and if you have that appreciation for yourself then it is expected that you will also have that appreciation and that respect for your own brothers and sisters,” said the minister.
“It’s not going to be an easy task because we know that sometimes change isn’t the easiest thing to bring about, but we are hoping that with the input and with all the stakeholders giving the necessary support that the task will become a little easier for the Ministry of Education,” he continued.
As Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, he said that he appreciates the importance of the involvement of everyone in the protection and promotion of cultural heritage. He said that he also understands the specific need to have young people not just involved, but excited by their own culture.
“Forests are not spread by old trees, but by the young fruit,” said the minister. “So our heritage can only be preserved by the continued propagation of our cultural practices. So whether it is picking whelks, playing bull, playing rounders, “punging story”, or “wukking up”, we must understand that each activity, when practiced, will add to the fabric of our society.”
Minister Richards said that he endorses the activities that are being planned for both the primary and secondary schools and encourages the fullest participation possible.
“Quite often I get the question from persons, what is the government doing to promote and preserve our culture, our heritage and our history? The truth is that the government can only do so much,” said the minister. “It can put policies in place, the department of culture can organize activities, and it can create programmes to create awareness and to simulate action. However, at the end of it all, our culture is about all of us. Therefore, we need the participation of all persons regardless of age, size, and political affiliation. We need the participation of all persons.”
The minister said that all citizens should do their part in promoting, preserving and sustaining the country’s history and heritage.