At the UWI Cave Hill Campus in Barbados on Thursday night, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris delivered an inspiring speech at the Annual Prime Minister’s Lecture. It was organized by the University of the West Indies Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (UWISTAT) Vice Chancellor’s Student Ambassador Corps under the theme Reaping the Rewards of Regional Integration: A Socio-economic Assessment.
Dr. Harris said, “I believe, and I believe you believe, too, that many doors of opportunity are going to be open for us in the future. With that said, perhaps the best test case for regional integration and its corollary socio-economic benefits is the close-knit group of friends, which you have made already in the hallowed hallways of the UWI, that is a critical resource for you moving forward and hopefully you shall continue to hold near and dear as time goes on, long after your graduation.”
The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis continued, “Through regional integration, you may end up living on the same island as your friend sitting next to you. That is one of the direct rewards of regional integration, because when we look at some of our economies and the reality that some countries have unemployment officially put at 30, 40%, particularly among young people, many of you know there is no going back home for work.”
Prime Minister Harris encouraged the students to take advantage of opportunities in other Caribbean islands where the unemployment rate is not as dire as it might be in their country. “So there are other countries that right now are doing well and which provide you with the probability for work, and that is why you had to come prepared. You have to come to the point of not seeing yourself solely as a citizen of Barbados or St. Lucia or St. Kitts and Nevis,” Dr. Harris said, adding that, “You have to now see yourself as a citizen of the region where already there is an institutional framework that gives you the right of free movement, that gives you as a graduate a special privilege and opportunity to move across the single economic space and to set up business, and with that comes a host of contingent and other rights.”
The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis told the rapt audience that they therefore ought to have a broad view, and it is incumbent on the University of the West Indies to prepare them to have a clear identification and appreciation of their potential and who they are.