Antigua & Barbuda finds itself being represented at the United Nations and many other regional organisations that require personnel to fill slots that can make us feel proud of our representation.
We are convinced that we have reached the stage in our political development where we ought to have a cadre of trained, educated people on whom we can call to represent us and make us feel honoured, regardless, of the political party that is in power.
There is no doubt that as we progress and attempt to fill our role in areas of diplomatic activity, we will need a wide variety of personnel trained in international diplomacy who will be able to man the front ranks of our teams and thereby perform the tasks required of them in the international arena.
The question may well be asked: “When and where do we begin?” The answer is simple. Begin now! Look in our secondary schools and look at the students with an aptitude for diplomacy and international affairs. Start by selecting them now and train them with a view to utilising them after they have been trained in diplomacy and law, so that they can fit into roles that our country demands, later on.
It is rather amazing to learn that when we attend international meetings, the delegations with whom we have to interact are made up of young delegates who hold masters and doctoratal degrees, who speak with authority as they defend the diplomatic affairs of their countries.
If we want to make our mark on the international scene, we have to possess staff who are qualified to occupy the front lines of our embassies and other committees that have to face the representatives of other nations with whom we have to deal.
We have to eradicate the narrow political approach of trying to find out whom the prospective employee supports, before that candidate is considered for selection. We have to adopt a broad view that puts loyalty to our country first in our recruitment programme. We have to become more proactive and progressive! We have to develop the capacity to look ahead in order to plan ahead, and obtain what is best for the whole of Antigua & Barbuda.
And, some may ask, “Where do we begin? And: How do we begin?” Again, the reply is, “In our schools; in our secondary schools!”
However, we ought to ask another question. “How much emphasis do we put on the capacity of our children, to debate?” If it is proved that our debating skills are weak, then, strengthen them by hiring teachers, as well as other people that work outside the school system who have been trained in those debating skills to work to improve students’ skills
We therefore have to be proactive! If education in our government secondary schools are free, why don’t we seek to emphasize and improve on those areas that can be of immense benefit to our country, both in the overseas arena, and even in our local social interaction.
The task of building capacity is not an easy one. What we see and attribute to progress and/or development is never the result of an overnight, instant stroke of luck. Diligent, hard, intense work has always been needed to lay the foundation of many a successful enterprise. The same philosophy and belief is true of nation building. If it is felt that organisations or enterprises automatically develop stability and endurance, this is a fallacy that ought to be discarded.
We are a young nation and we ought to dip our buckets down right where we are and utilise the potential of our youth and establish a sound edifice on which we can continue to build and face the future with confidence.