In last week’s Reporter’s Notebook, a Beaconite lamented his difficulties in accessing information from Her Majesty’s Prison, the Governor’s Office, and the Ministry of Health and Social Development about a Covid-19 outbreak at Her Majesty’s Prison. Consistently running into the same hurdles while trying to learn basic details about a public health matter is annoying for the Beaconite and potentially harmful to the prison inmates, as a public ignorant of the dangers they might face can do nothing to help them. However, not all government offices or departments are so tight-lipped, and this week he wanted to praise one that has consistently made his life easier: the Town and Country Planning Department. TCPD employees consistently go above and beyond to help the Beaconite find what he is looking for, and for that he is very thankful. Even Chief Planner Greg Adams often makes the time to speak with the Beaconite and give him no-nonsense answers to simple questions, a gift that no journalist should ever take for granted.
A Beaconite can see very few drawbacks to implementing three-year work permits, which are already permitted in the Labour Code but have not been granted. Recently, acting Labour Commissioner Michelle McLean said permits need to be renewed every year in case a Virgin Islander wants the position. However, renewals are not re-advertised, so in most cases there wouldn’t be an opportunity to apply anyway. Plus, there are some positions for which it is difficult to hire locally as they require specialised training. For these, it may make even more sense to issue longer permits. Employers paying three years’ worth of fees at once would result in more revenue pouring into government coffers and free up time for employees in the Department of Labour and Workforce Development to be more efficient and process other permits faster. If someone leaves before their permit is up, it’s essentially free money for the government. Since the online system so far hasn’t resulted in faster processing times and the bottleneck is growing, it’s clearly time to look for other solutions.
During this year’s memorial service organised by the African Studies Klub, Dr. Patricia Turnbull offered powerful insight into what needs to change within the education system to better support the great minds of tomorrow. In addition to the formal classroom setting and the informal education taught by family and neighbours, she described a third, “nonformal” type of learning. Dr. Turnbull said this includes things like the history taught at Sunday’s wreath-laying ceremony, interactive museum exhibits, and the like. She extolled the virtues of nonformal education and how it can help instil a sense of creativity and inquisitiveness in students. Much has been said about how formal education has suffered the past two years, but the Beaconite agrees that more attention needs to be given to other areas. She sincerely hopes to see more investments made in such activities next year, and not just for children. Attending ASK’s event certainly inspired something in the Beaconite, who found herself humming the territorial song the whole way home.
Kayaking at night
While a Beaconite took a night-time kayak around Cane Garden Bay, she met a man who has been in the tourism sector for nearly four decades. He said that since the Virgin Islands chose to develop its tourism product years ago, it should remain steadfast in fully developing it. While that includes providing more flights into the territory, it also means offering tourists an eco-friendly environment, he said. The guide had some interesting views on the territory’s independence too, stating that the VI has a way to go before reaching that point. He said tourists will only go where they feel safe, and that security must be a priority for any independent nation. Besides his political views, the tour guide was very well-versed in the history of Cane Garden Bay as well.