The Minister for of Education and Human Resource Development, Petter Saint Jean, finally broke his silence on the decision by students to march in defiance of instructions by Education Officials to call off the march past at the 2019 National Youth Rally and the Leader of the Opposition’s response to that decision.
The organizers cancelled the parade due to inclement weather but the students rejected that decision and proceeded to march in the absence of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit who had already left the venue.
With the prime minister being absent, Opposition Leader Lennox Linton, who was positioned in front of the stage, took the salute from the marching students.
“All sober and right-thinking Dominicans must have been appalled, annoyed and disgusted,” Saint Jean commented, in response, in a recent statement which appeared on social media.
He said the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) has always given utmost priority to the safety and security of the nation’s youth.
“Friday, November 1st, the meteorological services reported unstable weather conditions with scattered showers and possible isolated thunderstorms,” the Education Minister stated. “The Windsor Park Stadium grounds were waterlogged; there were light showers and the conditions appeared threatening.”
According to Saint-Jean, the ministry decided in the interest of the students and their teachers, to cancel the march-past.
“There was defiance by some students, reportedly encouraged by some including senior officials within the Ministry of Education and Lennox Linton, the Leader of the Opposition,” he remarked.
St. Jean accused Linton of breaking “all norms, protocol, decency, and respect for authority when he proceeded to pose for the salute” adding that this action confirmed the leader of the opposition as someone who lacked discipline and respect for authority.
“His actions clearly illustrate that he was encouraging our children to show disrespect to public officials and to defy authority which is symptomatic of the campaign that he has waged over the last 10 years,” he stated.
Saint Jean went on to describe Linton’s action as a clear demonstration of the UWP leader’s irresponsibility and his unfitness to lead Dominica.
“Mr Linton’s poor judgement, bad example and hunger for power have all gone to his head and we must, as a nation, pray for him,” he remarked.
Linton has said that his decision to take the salute from the students had nothing to do with politics. Instead, he said, he wanted to show support for the students after observing that while they were chanting “we want to march, we want to march”, the prime minister and his family were leaving the park and the other members of the government were leaving with him.
The Opposition Leader explained that considering the “long and hard” work the young persons had put into preparing for the event, and the unreasonable decision taken by the Ministry of Education to not allow the students to march, he decided that being the highest-ranking parliamentarian left in the stadium to take their salute as a show of symbolism for their independent action and decision.
Linton said it was very inspiring for him as a leader, looking at young children being independent in mind and spirit.
Meantime, Saint Jean revealed that the Independence Youth Sports Meet was postponed three (3) times because of the soggy conditions of the Benjamin’s Park in Portsmouth.
“Eventually this sports meet did not take place because of the likelihood of injury to the young and enthusiastic athletes,” he revealed. “There were no complaints.
Saint Jean said that the organizers, students and athletes “and certainly their parents,” were all in agreement that the action taken by the ministry was in the interest of those who had trained and eagerly awaiting the opportunity to display their athletic prowess.