The Hon Education Minister, Petter St. Jean has issued a statement explaining the cancellation of the march segment of the National Youth Rally on November 1st 2019.
The cancellation announcement was met with loud protestations from some students and several troops proceeded to exhibit their drills at the Windsor Park Stadium even after the event officially ended.
Both the cancellation and the student’s response have been subjects of intense scrutiny and commentary in the days following.
According to Hon St. Jean due to unfavourable conditions predicted by the Dominica Meteorological Office, the Ministry made a decision which it considered to be in the best interest of the children’s safety.
He explained that notwithstanding the disappointment of the students and groups, this may have been the best choice, as the conditions were not ideal for play.
St. Jean said actions like this one are not novel.
“The Youth Sports Meet was postponed three times because of the soggy conditions of the Benjamin 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. The organisers, students, 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 were eagerly awaiting the opportunity to display their athletic prowess.”
The Education Minister went on, “On Friday, Nov 1st the Windsor Park Stadium grounds were waterlogged, there were light showers and the conditions appeared threatening. The Ministry decided in the interest of the students and teachers to cancel the march past.”
He also voiced his distaste for the circumstances in which Opposition leader, Lennox Linton unofficially accepting the salute from students who exhibited their drills after the even ended.
Linton assumed the position traditionally designed for the Head of Government.
He proceeded to receive the salutes of the students who exhibited their march.
According to Hon St. Jean, this action breaks protocol and shows Linton as having poor judgement and setting a bad example.
“This once again confirmed the leader of the Opposition as someone who lacks discipline and respect for authority. His actions clearly illustrate [that] he was encouraging our children to show disrespect to public officials and to the defy authority.”
In a dig at the UWP leader ahead of general elections he added, “It is a clear demonstration of his irresponsibility and his unfitness to lead this country.”