Friday, December 29, 2017

Free Education Turned 40 in January

I was planning to have a write-up coincide with the anniversary of this crucially important national event. It just didn't happened. Got quite busy on Kozelidir: this is post no. 123. Haven't posted this much in five years. Also the thirteen pieces on The Jag! this year -- a new record -- took a lot of time and effort. You can imagine how much when you read some of these essays and when you consider that only ten such posts were published over three-and-a-quarter years. Still I am not about to let 2017 disappear forever without saying a couple of things.

First is that some people consider Free Education -- for secondary and university students -- as an electoral bribe that was bound to happen after students gathered on the GRNW bridge. Since when does mindfulness always happen after a protest? Our youth took to the streets in May 1975 while the beautiful electoral pledge was announced seventeen or eighteen months later. We know who implemented free education. You may not know who came up with the idea. Returning to pledges wasn't Lepep elected on the promise of a second 'economic miracle'? Still waiting for it eh? Let's not forget Navin Ramgoolam who promised to Put People First but ended up putting most of us last. Or Sithanen who told us poverty would disappear by 2015. Saying something is one thing. Doing it quite another.

The other thing is that granting Free Education was consistent with the extraordinary stuff accomplished by that generation of Mauritians who were born between let's say 1900 and 1945. You know the great people who proved Meade wrong and build the welfare state. Among them a couple of people really stood out: Kher Jagatsingh and his biggest fan, Seewosagur Ramgoolam.

Here's what KJ -- who many consider as the hardworker who has contributed the most to the advancement of Mauritius -- had to say about the implementation of Free Education:

"When almost by accident and force of historical circumstances, I was offered the portfolio of Education and Cultural Affairs in January 1977, I was already aware of the long and arduous task that awaited me. It was a crucial and decisive time to be Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs. This colossal task of reform and development was a real challenge, the like of which I had never faced before."

Phenomenal work doesn't always get recognised overnight.

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