OUR local thinking has got to be compatible with the global realities that are encroaching continuously on the way we live.
That the economic world has changed cannot be argued with. The propaganda of local politics, however, remain rooted to arguments and rhetoric that have remained counter-productive to the logic of crucial ‘bread-and-butter’ issues.
No longer can we pretend that our education curriculum will serve its purpose, convincing students that education will prepare them to acquire jobs in this or that public sector entity as theirs and our grandfathers and grandmothers did.
We are in the age where technology is the graduate that has been successfully sharing the office, studio and production space as a formidable companion, supervisor and in many cases ‘The Manager’.
The culture and family of technology has become ingrained in our daily lives. The products of Quantum Physics has accelerated the machine age, and we are not understanding or learning the landmarks of the new territory fast enough. And in the process of that learning, we in ‘GT’ have also got to instantly be smart enough to engage, and not to be driven by technology. I was at the GNNL as the company’s freelance artist when I received a new order of Letraset fonts and screens, which artists applied manually, and still do, in the Manga comics production [Japanese comics]. This was somewhere in the early 90s.
I approached one of the production managers with the potential order. Pearcey looked at me, smiled and said: “Boy, yuh ain’t gon need them things anymore; the computer software got all ah that.”
I was confused; I didn’t understand what he was talking about and was resentful at the same time.
END OF AN ERA
What Pearcey was implying was that it was the demise of an age that I had evolved in as a teenage artist.
“Computer!” was my only response at the time. But I would witness this revolution and its slaughter of ‘human jobs’ as it unfolded before my very eyes. The entire paste-up department was retired and replaced with two computers, each equipped with the software, PageMaker. I conceded that I had no option; that if I were to stay developing the career I was in, that I would have to computerise, since I had the experience of being told that the printing presses that we were working with were now obsolete, and any replacement would be designed to print from the computer-generated process to press.
The clean, computer-created mechanical image on paper had, in a matter of a decade, replaced over 100 years of printing practice-culture.
That case study envelopes the speed that our world was been forced [not by any local conscious effort] to metamorphose.
To date on the local front, the computer has largely been an imposition. The past administration, in a ‘green-bottle’ puff, came up with the idea that every home should have a Lap Top, ignoring the cultural shock and habitat imbalance involved.
Our very home architecture, salary structure and cultural framework defies an impromptu insertion of such a significant cultural addition as the computer age, void of preparing our population, whether through media, popular culture or any social coercing system for the accommodation of the highly literate, reference-based knowledge pool that navigating the Internet demands.
The student, including my children even before I had a computer at home, were given school assignments that required visits to the Net Café, regardless of whether or not one had money. Someone at the Ministry of Education was incredibly insensitive or staring mad, was my conclusion.
A MAJOR INVESTMENT
A computer is a major economic involvement, and the evolutionary rush imposed, through a panicked after-thought realisation, of our distance behind a transforming world. This sophisticated culture shock was bound to create working-class depression, especially when the added expenses of paper, Internet fees and printer ink begin to tear at the fixed income. We pushed our working-class to devise ‘runnings’, once the opportunity presented itself, to meet these new expenses. And now that door has been opened, it has never stopped, with the old culprits still in crucial seats in an antiquated system without modern checks and balances.
On the other hand, when the computer becomes an ‘income-earning tool’ and not a surprise imposition, or just a Facebook ‘who’s who’ novelty, a different attitude to technology is awakened.
The leading metropolis of our age is the USA. In that country, there is a record 43% of home-run businesses. That’s a big piece of the earning pie; a direct product of the computer-Online superhighway that has already begun here, but will be in full swing when the potential leave the few and wheel into the majority, and GPL gets its act together.
The other problem is social. How did we end up with a sizable semi-literate and illiterate population can be easily traced to the events over the past two decades.
But what are we telling our school masses today? And I’m not talking about those privileged schools; I’m talking about the schools and communities left behind, many of them in Georgetown.
The concept that school only serves as a facilitator to acquire a job and not the dual option that it also serves as the base to create one’s own employment in the long-term is counter-productive. I was not indulged in my school years that my education could serve to develop an out-of- tradition, still-hardly-understood Cultural Industries business. But I was fortunate to live under Forbes Burnham. And in my early teens, was part of a coop society, the ‘Kurukuru Agri-Industrial Young Settlers Coop Society’. There I learned the concept of independent thinking. And as the organisation’s secretary, I was taught the rudiments of management and bookkeeping. So I later started my business without a patron’s cheque, with impossible hours and financial responsibilities, but understood and maintained the credibility to deliver. The options are far more lucrative today. The public sector is going to be an important but minority employer in the future. But the public sector has to be shaped into a knowledgeable, cordial and functional partner for the small businesses that will bloom; not an indifferent aristocracy. And the scheming crooks and square pegs will have to go.
The child in school today must be enlightened to the options of the two roads from where he or she is. Systems, legal and social, have to be created to diminish dependency, and encourage the practical adventures of self employment. And as the scriptures tell us, souls in prison [mental and physical] have to be ministered to. A tremendous task, but the only sensible option.