PETE the Panstick

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If the children of Trinidad and Tobago are to receive a quality education, then all aspects of the nation’s culture must be embraced, Newsday reports.

Minister of Education, Anthony Garcia, said so yesterday at the launch of the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad And Tobago’s (TSTT) PETE the Panstick (PETE) programme, in the TSTT Corporate Box at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port-of-Spain.

Garcia lauded the initiative which aims to teach both primary and secondary students how to play the pan, while teaching them the history of the steel band movement in Trinidad and Tobago.

Garcia said, “…It is important that we recognise a major aspect of our culture.

It is important that we appreciate what we have. And it is important that the Ministry of Education can hold hands and join with TSTT at this very important, exciting, what is referred to as an interactive experience in music education. The Ministry of Education want to register its thanks and approval for this project, and whatever assistance you will need, I give you the assurance that we’ll do everything in our power to ensure that that assistance is forthcoming.

One of the things that interests me this morning, as I heard the various speakers is the fact that we need to teach somewhat of the history of the pan and the history of the steelband movement.

“As you’re aware, our Prime Minister gave us a mandate, to reform the curricular offerings in both the primary and secondary schools, and a major aspect of this would be the teaching of the history of Trinidad and Tobago.

As we said, so many times when the history is written, it is distorted. On so many occasions when history or when we look at the history books, we see that history is written against a perspective of the author. I remember as a student in school in Form 5 when I was preparing for GCE history was one of the courses that I did. But the history that we were told, that we had to learn from those books, is a totally different history as we know it now…Therefore it is important for us to identify and to know our history. And if we are to be successful in this venture, the history of the steelband movement is of extreme importance, because the steel band is ours.” Garcia continued that we must not forget the founding fathers of the steelpan like Winston Spree Simon and Tony Williams.

In fact, he said that given that it was World Teachers’ Day (yesterday), tribute should be paid to men like Simon and Williams who helped to pioneer and advance the steelpan.

Furthermore, Garcia expressed disappointment at the denominational board of the Sanataan Dharma Maha Sabha refusing to allow the PETE programme in its schools.

He commented that a document which was handed to him during his speech yesterday advised him that all denominational schools were selected for the programme, save for those coming under the remit of the Sanataan Dharma Maha Sabha, because the board “does not want pan in its school system.”

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