COMMENTARY: Discipline, Organization & Production – Remembering the days of Dominica Grammar School Technical Wing

The Technical Wing of the Dominica Grammar School was opened in 1962, in part a gift of the United States. The Technical Wing taught welding, metallurgy, wood working, technical drawing, and other linked vocational skills. The titans of technical instruction I remember included Mr. Severin, Mr. Edgar Robinson, and Mr. Leatham. The graduates of this endeavor in vocational education include notable welders like Edgar Robinson, Vivian Webb, mechanics such as Herbie Shillingford and Georgie Ifill, architect Isaac Baptiste and many others too numerous to mention who have blazed a trail in the professions.  One morning in 1973 while in class, I saw a car being driven around the grounds of the Dominica Grammar  School that had been built out of disparate parts.  Imagine that! A car was constructed of diverse parts on the grounds of the Dominica Grammar School.  What have we built today, almost 50 years later? For one year, in third form, I studied technical drawing under Mr. Leatham and woodwork under Mr. Robinson. That experience changed my life for the better and made me a confirmed believer in the power of technical education in transforming lives and powering national development.

Today, there is a woeful lack of technical education in Dominica’s schools and the mentality of “Sewo” (Sewo=good-time, jump-up, carnival and bacchanal atmosphere) has deformed the character of a nation.  Instead, we have a make-work program called NEP – National Employment Program. The NEP, in almost five years, has built no model farm, no student dormitories, no factory or graduated any students in:

  1. Metallurgy
  2. Woodworking
  3. Welding
  4. Plumbing
  5. Electrical engineering

All these skills were taught at the Technical Wing. Technical Wing graduates helped to build the Londonderry Youth Camp. They helped to build Arawak and Arbedee cinemas. They helped to build the Government Headquarters on Kennedy Avenue, along with schools and the police Headquarters on Bath Road. Today, NEP has not shown the vision or capacity to tutor our young to be the nation builders we need. 

The China Question: Even in the colonial era, local truckers, masons, electricians, welders, carpenters got to be leaders in construction  of our new nation. Today, the overwhelming majority of major contracts such as the stadium, repair of the west coast roads, are built by Chinese and their engineers, with Dominicans playing menial roles. China is a proud nation and would never allow foreigners to so dominate its local economy. Dominican architects, engineers, and other skilled people are marginalized. Unless our local contractors and skilled people are empowered by public sector contracting, as Chinese do in China,  then we Dominicans shall never be captains of industry in our own land. Meanwhile, our boys and girls are not taught the rudiments of discipline, organization, and production, so necessary to nation building. Until we eradicate this culture which diminishes the leadership of Dominicans in Dominica, we are doomed as a nation.

The Lack of Discipline: In view of the lack of discipline our law firm assisted the revival of the Dominica Cadet  Corps. Early leaders in that effort were former cadets of my time,  Lieutenant Francis Richards, police inspector David Andrew and Sergeant Major Ackroyd Birmingham. They were ably assisted by new recruits like police officers Joseph Raymond and Dorsen Robin, PSS teacher, musician Eddie Henry, Lincoln Robinson, photographer/booster Cecil Clark and new leaders like RSM Sherwin Mitchell. The idea was for the Cadet Corps to be an instrument of national development and so discipline our youth for personal and professional take-off. The current government has missed the point of the cadet program in national development, and today it is primarily a parade outfit without any foothold in agriculture, and industry. The worthy efforts to impart skills training a decade ago is commended here. We must restore the cadet program at its revival  and make it available as a strong disciplining element to reduce juvenile delinquency and crime in Dominica. A link on the early days of the revival of the Dominica Cadet Corps can be seen on Victory 1 Television here -

The Lack of Organization: The Cadet Corps taught me the importance of discipline and organization. No nation or civilization can be constructed absent disciplined team effort. Most of the leaders in the Dominica Diaspora movement, and many on Dominica, have their roots in organizations such as the Social League, Brownies, Cubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, 4-H Club, Cadet Corps, student councils or youth organizations. Today, these organizations are dwindling and need the help of conscious citizens to be restored, revived, and energized. Teamwork makes the dreamwork. We must escalate the importance of civic duty and encourage ALL of our people to be engaged in organizations in the community – especially our youth. The sinister “Sewo” mentality and “hand-outs” have negatived the culture of disciplined effort and organization without which we shall never rise. Hand-outs and mindless “Sewo” have made our island susceptible to modern day slavery.

The Lack of Production: Unemployment  on Dominica is atrociously high because of the woeful absence of skills training. Teach a man to fish, you set him up for life. Give me a man a fish, you spoil him for life. Because of the erosion of discipline, and organization in our culture we now see an almost total collapse of production. We export nothing, except our valiant hucksters who try to export some agriculture goods.  Gone are the days when we had Bello Factory, Ma Baba Garments, Sunstyle Textiles, Buy-Trinee Textiles by Sheridan Gregoire and Norris Prevost, L. Rose & Company Lime Juice, several soft drink plants, a vibrant citrus industry, and bananas for export. Our productive sector is gone, and some people have the nerve to say, “if not passport sales, then what?” Such abysmal lack of self-confidence, ignorance of a time when we had a more productive Dominica, and knowledge of our past prowess, makes a mockery of our intelligence as a people. Any move forward in Dominica, must – of necessity -include restoration of the technical wing method across the island.

Dear Dominican people, this is a call to restore our most noble national  ideals and demonstrate the power of our native intelligence.  Before China came, we Dominicans were building our country. To be a true patriot one must know our past. We must be learned, disciplined, organized and productive. China builds Confucius Institutes to study Chinese culture. Fine. We must know about all cultures. However, what about the Dominica Institute for the study of our culture when the only national library lies in ruins? Step one is to promote the vocational education mission and encourage youth enrollment in civic leadership organizations such as the Dominica Cadet Corps and others so outlined above.

The  Dominica Civic Leadership Handbook we prepared for the Dominica Cadet Corps in 2004 is attached. Please read and share.

Dominicans have done well in the past, on and off our island. We have proved to the world that we are a capable, competent, and intelligent people. Let us restore that culture  of discipline, organization, and production. Note that honest labour, encourages honesty in interpersonal relations. When a society abides bribery and indulges self-dealing then the entire character of the state is corrupted, and nothing works. Such a dedication to discipline, organization and production is key to escape the tyranny of lawlessness and poverty now stalking our land. As a society in shambles, we are like a lamb before the slaughter.  Let not our fertile island go to seed, so it can be recolonized by those more disciplined, organized, productive and cunning.

The Dominica Grammar School Technical Wing was a gift of the United State and possessed lathes of the kind depicted in this photo. As a child the author would observe DGS students at lathes machining parts. In 1973, enterprising DGS Technical Wing mechanical engineering students at the DGS made a working car out of disparate parts and drove it around the compound of the school

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  1. Gary
    January 11, 2023

    There is something called intent, It is important to discriminate
    between truth, partial truth, and falsity. Reminiscing about a past educational program coupled with political rhetoric is conveys propaganda in disguise to foster a political agenda, that is the intent of this commentary. The demise of the Technical Wing established at The Dominica Grammar School continued and expanded at the Clifton Dupigny College, now the State College.

    This present Government has recognized the importance of the Technical trades, and is now establishing certification programs at the State College, to enhance professionalism, it is part of the reset The PM talked about. Those who are capable of perpetrating misinformation to push an agenda are capable of perjury to sustain.

  2. Roger Burnett
    January 10, 2023

    This passage from Erich Fromm’s book, “Escape from Freedom” is relevant to the topic.

    “It would seem that the amount of destructiveness to be found in individuals is proportional to the amount to which the expansiveness of life is curtailed. By this I do not refer to individual frustrations of this or that instinctive desire but to the thwarting of the whole of life, the blockage of spontaneity of the growth and expression of man’s sensuous, emotional and intellectual capacities. Life has an inner dynamism of its own; it tends to grow, to be expressed, to be lived. It seems that if this tendency is thwarted, the energy directed towards life undergoes a process of decomposition and changes into energies directed towards destruction. In other words: the drive for life and the drive for destruction are not mutually independent factors. The more the drive for life is thwarted, the stronger is the drive towards destruction. Destructiveness is the outcome of unlived life.”

  3. RastarMarn
    January 9, 2023

    Ministry of Education have all those records!!!

    So why don’t they implement those same standards to the rules in this present educational systems,,,

    So the current future generations can look back when they become adults and cherish efforts made today for their betterment of their tomorrow!!!

    All Skerrit have to do is tell those that in charge what to do wi and they will follow him just like they follow him all other ways!!!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  4. Concerned citizen
    January 8, 2023

    DNO please post the comment that was sent from concerned citizen.

    ADMIN: We have published a recent comment from you. Please check again and let us know if you do not see it.

  5. January 8, 2023

    Where are you Mr. Christian? You continue to throw stones from a far, why not return home and help build Dominica. You are an American citizen bearing true and faithful allegiance to America. You show no respect to those remained in Dominica working hard for its development. People like you just continue to live in a fools paradise with your idiotic and unpatriotic attitude.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 11
    • Time-X
      January 10, 2023

      “If you “throw stones” in a pack of SWINES, the one that holler is the one you hit. Why does point keep changing names? I’m yet to see your point. But I know your agenda. My response to you is simply this: “ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU; ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY.” You are simply a parasite 🦠.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
      • Gary
        January 10, 2023

        What such pathetic nonsense about throwing stones in a pack of pigs, only idle minds does such a thing, isn’t there some truth in the above comment regarding Mr. Christian behavior. When you read the above comment describing Gabriel J. Christian, thus, this conveys that @ Point has an agenda, isn’t it Gabriel J. Christian that has an agenda.

        • Martha
          January 13, 2023

          The most pathetic people on this platform is you and your fellow devil worshippers: clown, D unce S oul, Felix Pacquette and of course the Canadian Super hypocrite.

          • Gary
            January 15, 2023

            Oh, boy, pity your ignorance for arbitrarily labelling me a devil worshiper. I will not dwell on the specifics of your ignorance. I hope one day you will recognize the real devil worshipers.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
          • January 17, 2023

            I sincerely hope that is not the Martha I made love to decades ago. If so, you have really changed after I left.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • Time-X
      January 10, 2023

      @point Your limited understanding of “Democracy” is that, in Dominica we should all have the same political views and beliefs. One person is hated by another because of his/her political beliefs. But yes, we are “Democratic.” O! And I’m not supposed to live where I want to?? That’s the thing millions of readers will be wondering when they read your crap about America. Let’s hope that you never reach out to any other country for help, but China. How many of you travel to China to have a baby? ZERO. How many of you travel to China for medical care or treatment? ZERO. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  6. Lin clown
    January 8, 2023

    This guy is such a Jacka.There is nothing in Roseau called old bridge,it is the E.C.Loblack bridge.The bridge was rebuilt by The Rt, Hon, Dr.Roosevelt Skerrit Prime Minister of Dominica.This guy has no respect for patriotic Dominicans.He has spent too many years on Rikers island.The fool does not even the the gun store was W Edwards,on the corner of Old Street and King George the 5th street.One of those prodigal sons.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 14
    • Time-X
      January 10, 2023

      You know so much, tell us what the “W” in your “W Edward” stands for!!! You are just as your pseudo name stands for. Grow up, little clown.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
    • Beta
      January 11, 2023

      …and what exactly is right honourable about Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit?? Let me tell you, he is as common as muck and a Doctor he is neither. Get your facts right you Circus Clown.

  7. Dr. Sam Christian
    January 8, 2023

    A truly incisive and timely article.

    The opportunity to save our country does not come every 2- 5 years at the whim of one man’s electoral machinations. Every day, every day, patriots do their CIVIC DUTY, striving to restore institutions and focus our youth on productive industry. Gabe holds up the Technical Wing and the Dominica Cadet Corps as brilliant examples of harnessing science, technology, engineer and math (S.T.E.M.) to power our nation-builing.

    May we never ever despair in rousing our people to regain self-sufficiency and self-respect. Thanks to you who are not only readers, but doers as well, of the basic tasks necessary for our national redemption

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
  8. Concerned Citizen
    January 8, 2023

    Dominica is under an EVIL SPELL and until Dominicans wake up and realize that and decide to come out from it there will not be a change.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
  9. Rasta Pasta
    January 8, 2023

    I took a few classes at Tech Wing also and remember that car made of disparate parts driving around the school. Correct me if am wrong but I think it was topless and called “Cracky”

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
  10. Rasta Pasta
    January 8, 2023

    Our Minister of Finance with multiple doctorates who said “if not passport sales, then what?” has missed the most important lesson in finance by Robert Kiyosaki:

    “It’s not now much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.”

    Mea culpa! If only he would apply it to the country and not just himself.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
  11. Braindamage
    January 8, 2023

    Great to know some of the skills that were being taught and learned at the DGS.
    In the 1990’s known as The Clinton Dupiny Technical College, there were lots of skills being taught too: such as Agriculture, Sewing, Mechanical Engineering, Technical Drawing, [Electronics] Radio and TV Servicing, Electricals, Mathematics, English… and much more… in time of Mr. Daniel Shillingford as the Principal of that wing…
    Those skills were very helpful. External Exams were used, such as City and Guilds of London Institute.
    A student could also register to do their GCE or CXC Exams at that time.
    I went in empty with a “School Leaving Certificate” and came out with 4 “O” levels and a Certificate from City and Guilds of London Institute in Electronics.. not a boaster, but thank God for the effort which helped me to move further in life..
    Wish the authorities would bring back those times to help the young people to be skilled.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0
  12. Leighton R James
    January 8, 2023

    Thanks for the analysis. Firstly, there has clearly been a paucity of critical analyses emanating from those who have managed Dominica’s affairs for the past couple of decades. Technical training is an important educational component that was inadvertently or willfully neglected within the educational system. There is time to change course, but the window to maximize this opportunity is rapidly closing.

    Your observation on China is notable. The CCP is duty-bound to do what’s in the interests of itself. They do not care about Dominica’s Technical talent and, in fact, their main initiative through the Belt and Road strategy is to identify weak, corrupt governments, offer them loans through Chinese banks that many corrupt governments can’t service, then move in to take over the Chinese-constructed entity (port, airport, road etc). Dominica is at significant risk.

    Unfortunately, many on island are sleep-waking into oblivion and don’t realize their station in life.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1
  13. Bring back the kidnapped parrots
    January 7, 2023

    Dominicans will go nowhere if they keep electing the same sorry leaders.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
  14. G
    January 7, 2023

    Dont forget Norman Xavier..Jeffrey Sabo Defoe..Peg leg and the left back mechanic guy for Harlem of the 70s

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4
  15. Roger Burnett
    January 7, 2023

    It is not only a technical wing that our schools lack but also dedicated spaces for the creative arts. I refer to music, dance, drama, sewing, painting, sculpture and an auditorium with an equipped stage for performances. We tend to forget that over 50% of students are creatively rather than academically inclined – hence the high rate of failures amongst those that are short changed.

    Whilst our schools can serve as an introduction to skills, the development cannot end there. Mastering a skill demands many years of apprenticeship under the eye of a master craftsman.

    And this is where the difficulty lies: most of our master craftsmen are now in the next world and the few of us that are left are well into old age. In the past skills were handed down from father to son. My indoctrination to skills began at my grandfather’s workbench as soon as I was able to stand.

    On a positive note, there is a world-wide revival of interest in learning a skill and this we need to be a part of.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1
  16. Kev
    January 7, 2023

    This man missed the ball a lot. Mr Christian what has the United States done for Dominica in the last decade that has meaningfully contributed to Dominica’s upliftment? Very little if anything. Last time I checked china’s is dominica’s biggest aid donor and the world’s second largest economy. You seem to think we should break that relationship just because of your xenophobic views of the Chinese. I do agree that Dominica’s indigenous businesses have disappeared overtime but that has largely been because of their failure to innovate and move with current trends.instead of regurgitating the typical American anti China rhetoric you should think before you speak.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16
    • RandyX
      January 11, 2023

      Whatever the US has done for Dominica in the last 20 years was undone in a flash by that thieving PM. Whatever China has done in the last 20 years will be invoiced by them sooner rather than later and guess who will have to pay the bill? I little hint, it’s not Skerrit and his cabal because they will be living somewhere else by then and be spending all the money that once belonged to all you. Well done Dominica!

  17. Roxan
    January 6, 2023

    Dominica is showing an uprise in mental health at all levels. When all those developments were unfolding people were of sound mind.Unfortunately that isn’t the same today.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4
  18. Josiah Silva
    January 6, 2023

    Thank you so much for that insight, I’m going to save this and print it.
    That should be shared and broadcasted in every school and to all Dominicans. We need this… we need to change direction.
    Wake up call my people.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2
  19. Putin
    January 6, 2023

    Another incoherent rant from a clearly uninformed, loud, and ineffective voice. You are going to keep screaming and bawling in the wilderness for a very long time! No one but Q95 and DNO takes you seriously, not even UWPwee supporters.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 25
    • Klenderson
      January 9, 2023

      YOU are the only one that subjects us to incoherent rants on a daily. Are you Skerrits mouth piece? Get out of here!

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2
    • The Calabash
      January 9, 2023

      Let’s hear your take on the state of technical education.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
      • Putin
        January 10, 2023

        You will not like what you hear. Thank me for sparing you the anguish.

    • Jonathan Y St Jean
      January 9, 2023

      @Putin, you are hell bent on remaining in your cocoon of dependency under the “next level” and blame the messenger because the message makes you feel bad. I’m also a product of the tech-wing at the DGS and long to see the initiative spread to many schools across the country. Not everyone is endowed with the aptitude to learn strictly reading, writing and arithmetic but something else can spark the learning bug in some people and there’s nothing wrong with that. Only good things will result for national development.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2
      • Putin
        January 10, 2023

        Actually, a phone call to the Ministry of Education or any secondary school would help you know the real state of technical education in Dominica. Of course, neither you nor Gabu is interested in doing so because the information that you would receive would contradict the puzzle that you have created in your head regarding realty in Dominica and make you feel like a buffoon. So, it is easier to sit behind a screen and shoot from the back of your head.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7
  20. R A Mitchell
    January 6, 2023

    It is good to read articles about DGS after, in my case 44 years of absents. I am an old boy of the school. Not one of the distinguished scholars just a plodder who was disciplined by Alfred Levy, Claudette Cools Lartigue, Alwyn Bully, Mr Leblanc et al.

    Today I am ACCA and still sing the old school song “the greatest of all builders”- word perfect.
    Our school came about after slavery was abolished in 1834. A school

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2
  21. Time-X
    January 6, 2023

    My hands are skillfully blessed. And with such skillful hands and mind I was able to raise a very productive family. Mr. Christian was my music school teacher. His music school was upstairs the first building on the left after crossing the old bridge into Roseau. Dominica was so sweet back in the days that I feel sorry for our young people of this generation. Sin has taken over and there is a man who goes around the communist world begging for money while selling our country and pocketing the money. There won’t be any change unless we drive away many foreigners and especially the Chinese who are the main financial support of the Hyena. We had a hardware store opposite the old market in Roseau selling different types of firearms and we never had people going around shooting and killing one another like is being done today. I’m blessed to have lived a good life in Dominica when it was blessed. We must fight to take back Dominica from the hungry hyena and his woof woof. Tommy talkers.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 9
    • Time-X
      January 7, 2023

      The 70s was a glorious time. Foods were not placed on scales. One hefty breadfruit would cost 25 cents. Soft drinks 10 cents. $1.00 at miss Ross could buy you lunch. Pee wee ice cream 25 cents. Roseau had enough space to walk with no vehicles on the side walk. If you needed to buy clothes in Roseau you’d have to enter into a store. Today clothes are sold on the streets and next to stinking gutters. Roast corn, plantain, tamarind, fried fish and chicken parts are sold along untidy street. The “modern time” lifestyle is very discouraging. There’s no work in Dominica and the the remaining few are given to aliens. The young people are lazy and are getting physicality sick by sitting down being overweight. There are still hundreds of them who are on the labor list for free housing. Some say that there will be a “brighter day.” in Dominica. I say, false hope is no hope at all. In the 70s our young men and women were very ambitious. We were all chiseled physically and fit. Good looking!!!

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
    • Facts
      January 8, 2023

      Well said. Likewise Mr Christian was my music and typing teacher. He did a good job with Handel and Percel. He taught us how to represent. Dress well if not he would send you home and call you Manicou. No pants hanging. It was river street. The moral was great. River Street was a bad area but no killing only Chichi. I lived a good life following his examples. I am as retired banker and never had any need for anything. Where has Dominica went too We had little but etiquette and respect was the key. We need more places like this. The kids attend before college. Hate to say Dominica has gone to the evil hands. Even people at the churches go to the Obeah man. God is mad with this abomination. Let’s pray for a healing in this beautiful country.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
      • Time-X
        January 10, 2023

        These are the facts. Thanks for your memories. We couldn’t enter Mr. Christian Music School dressed any old way. We were all neatly dressed with shirt tucked in pants. The way in which our country has evolved is disgraceful; and folks get offended when you mention the obvious. We live in dangerous times.

    • Gary
      January 8, 2023

      Good for you that you were able to raise a very productive family with your skillfully hands and mind, but it is sad that you did not take your time to see the strides the Country has made instead of being caught up in with your cliché political partisan beliefs. Christian music may not be around anymore, but there are music schools in Dominica Why are you feeling sorry for the young people in Dominica when they have more opportunities now than in the past, the era you grew up in.

      Your suggestion about the sin which has engulfed Dominica is nonsensical, and shows your ignorance, intolerance, and irrational thinking to other Nationalities, as to your remarks on foreigners that too is ludicrous. Dominica is still blessed, minds like yours are not what we need to build Dominica

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

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