Build Minds not Concrete Structures …

When did the dream of building a school for the children of Diego Martin morph into the reality of a sprawling building called the “Diego Martin Regional Corporation Administrative Complex (DMRC)?”  I was there a couple election seasons ago when the then Member of Parliament for my area (our current Prime Minister) presented a persuasive argument to the constituents of Victoria Gardens for building a school for the children of Four Roads, La Puerta, Morne Coco Road, Powder Magazine, Pt. Cumana and even Victoria Gardens.  The reality today is that there is a school on the other side of Western Main Road, but you must have deep pockets to attend.  The non-monied children of Four Roads, La Puerta, Morne Coco Road, Powder Magazine, Pt. Cumana and the further-flung areas of Carenage try to thrive wherever they are planted; that is the reality they must live with until a more human-centered philosophy is engaged.

Courtesy Reginald Mac Lean

The site has been marked by controversy from ownership to usage.  The current iteration is that it is now the site of a new DMRC building, will partly house the Diego Martin Vehicular Overpass and some recreational green space too close to the overpass.  Residents have been lobbying for a green space and even came up with a site plan which envisioned West Park Savannah as a green space in the north west catering for joggers, walkers, cyclists, play areas, communal spaces and an amphitheatre.  It could have been transformed into a modern day learning community.  On November 1, 2019 resident Adam Raffoul posted on the West Park Savannah facebook page, that his effort to see the site plan was refused by Udecott on the basis that the information requested is not covered under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the plan is Udecott’s intellectual property.  It boggles my mind that citizens continue to be refused access to information which will impact their wellbeing by people whom the citizens pay to administer over their wellbeing.  It is indeed a conundrum!

Courtesy Reginald Mac Lean

On May 29, 2020 another resident Michael Scott made the following post: “It is apparent to all that have started to frequent the west park savannah that people are desperate for “green spaces” as families attend the west park savannah on a weekday afternoon for exercise, fresh air and a break from their daily pressures.  The park is already proving congested and it is a travesty that the entire park is not committed for leisure purposes. The fact that the authorities have determined that a new Diego Martin Regional Corporation facility should be built on the premises is foolhardy. It should not be positioned as it is and it again demonstrates that no “needs assessment” has been carried out to define the basis for its existence.  The authorities have once again demonstrated their disdain for the residents of Diego Martin”.

And what of the school? Dead silence.  The educational plan for the children of Diego Martin is not easily available and I am not sure it even exists but the data from the 2011 census told me that 21 percent of the population of Diego Martin is under the age of 15 and any leader confronting this statistic should be inspired to point development in the direction of nurturing children and young adults.  That leader would focus on improving the community, making more people self-reliant, ensuring that there is social justice and engaging the community in decision making.  A significant lever to achieve these noble goals is education at all levels