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Dickon Mitchell: Sustained engagement with citizens needed to tackle Covid-19 crisis

Dickon Mitchell – the Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress

The view has been expressed in some quarters that not sufficient consultation was held with stakeholders by the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration to develop a national approach to manage, and minimise the disruptions that occurred with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leading the charge against the regime on this was newly elected political leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), 44-year old attorney-at-law, Dickon Mitchell.

“I don’t think that there has been sufficient consultation with all stakeholders so that we can develop a national approach to how we manage the virus, and how we minimise disruptions to our lives,” said Dickon Mitchell in an interview with the host of the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN) ‘To the Point’ radio programme on Tuesday.

According to Dickon Mitchell, although the country is “far advanced into the process, there still appears to be no coherent plan as to how we treat with COVID-19…”

The newcomer to national politics highlighted the approach of the NNP government to the resumption of face-to-face learning last week Monday among students in classrooms with their teachers.

Dickon Mitchell charged that “the announcement does not match the reality on the ground,” as most students, with the exception of those in exit grades have only attended school physically for one day with the majority of the time spent at home doing online classes.

“…We would have gone into the (Christmas) vacation with us not having school taking place physically (and) we would have had a spike in cases over the vacation. You have a first week in which schools are not opened, and then within the space of five (5) days, an announcement is made that said schools will reopen…,” he said.

“It seems to me that if we are planning that much then that should not be the case, and if we are announcing that we are back in schools then we have to ensure that the preparation was done and that the plans were in fact practical and could be implemented, so that when you say that children are going back to school, and resuming physical classes that it is in fact happening but it’s not,” he added.

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Internet access or the lack of it has presented challenges for many students, who according to Education Minister Emmalin Pierre, have not been engaged by their teachers since the start of COVID-19 almost two (2) years ago.

“There is a considerable gap,” said the NDC leader, who had previously called for the government to invest more money to ensure that each student can have access to online learning and that no student is left behind.

“Given the fact that we have not faced a challenge like this before, with all due respect to our government, the eight (8), 10 or 15 persons sitting in Cabinet or the four (4) or five (5), or six (6) persons sitting on the COVID-19 committee will not have the answers to how the society should move forward collectively.

“Hence the reason for having in my view, the sustained engagement with the citizens, so that we the citizens can assist in crafting a policy that we buy into, and we support, and will act upon, and so, in the absence of that, I think this sort of adhoc, flip-flopping, one (1) thing today, and another thing tomorrow will continue.

Dickon Mitchell is trying to create history by seeking to become the first person from the parish of St David to win the job of Prime Minister of the country.

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