From Left: Lawrence Kirton Wheatley of the Claudia Creque Educational Center speaking to Talk Show Host, Donald DeCastro - July 2013.
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
In recent months, the call has been made by some residents for the conversation to begin on the BVI becoming independent from the United Kingdom (UK). However, one high school student has some advice for those who are preaching independence.
Lawrence Kirton Wheatley of the Claudia Creque Educational Center, Anegada, believes politicians must first develop respect for each other and residents on a whole must have some level of moral independence.
"David Ben-Gurion once said without moral and intellectual independence there is no anchor for national independence. With that in mind, I do not envision national independence in the near future. In my vision, we can take the first step towards national independence by developing moral independence as a nation."
Wheatley, who was speaking on his vision for the BVI in the next twenty years at the Territory Day celebrations earlier this month, added, "Therefore, I see politicians from all the parties not wasting time finding flaws in the opposing party, but rather respecting the opinions of others even if they do not agree with those opinions."
The student was among two who spoke on their vision for the Territory.
Speaking on tourism, the Anegada student said he envisions more for Anegada than a day on the beach eating lobster.
"I see twenty years from now a water park and or a Busch Gardens type theme park for Anegada, promoted as a nature reserve, complete with viewing stations where tourists and locals can interact with wildlife and still have the thrill of screaming on a roller coaster ride. This will serve to protect the environment, provide jobs and increase tourist arrivals."
He spoke about having a modern airport terminal equipped to handle airflow between Virgin Gorda (VG), Tortola via local airlines.
Wheatley said the ferry service will also be improved and stationed on Anegada, which will feature modern ferries making three trips a day, seven days per week to both Tortola and Virgin Gorda, and two trips to St. Thomas.
Wheatley also expressed hope that a lot more emphasis will be placed on agriculture to lessen the Territory's dependence on imported food.
"Agriculture will become the third economic pillar of the BVI. Growing fruits and vegetables will be done easily and effectively especially since in my vision we will effectively utilize the greenhouses...This results in low food importation cost and provides healthy produce."
The teenager also said he sees a BVI that will no longer demean their Caribbean neighbors but rather strengthened their ties and benefiting from increased trade, education, health and legal opportunities, "as befitting the status of an Associate member of Caricom. The BVI will continue to be a paradise in the next 20 years but one that will prosper economically and politically if we have the right attitude and work ethic."
Meanwhile, the other student who spoke on her vision for the Territory in the next twenty years was Kadeja Roberts, of Bregado Flax Educational Centre, Virgin Gorda (VG). She spoke on the education and agriculture sectors.
Roberts said she foresees a BVI where the education system will cater to the needs of all the Territory´s children. To this end, she said this will call for more emphasis on technical vocational education.
"To accomplish this goal, I would like see more technical subject being taught in all the territory´s secondary schools. Furthermore, I would like to see vocational education become a reality. I believe that if our youth are well trained, and if employment opportunities are afforded to them, there would be a decrease in criminal activities," Roberts put forward.
She believes that the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) should be upgraded to a university.
"...So that our students would not have to leave home and face high tuition and accommodation costs just to further their education."
In the next twenty years, Roberts wants to see youth being more actively involved in the political affairs of the Territory.
"One way to do this is by attending town hall meetings and voicing their concerns openly, rather than hiding behind the blogs," Roberts stated.
In relation to agriculture, she said agriculture science should be taught in secondary school and government should make more crown land available to residents.