Home People Dalano Ryan DaSouza (DRD), Scholar, President And Beyond

Dalano Ryan DaSouza (DRD), Scholar, President And Beyond

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Dalano was born 3rd September 1989 in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, where he excelled at school receiving the Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence (2008) and a National Exhibition Scholar (2008). He moved on to University of the West Indies Cave hill where he attained a BSc. Economics and Management, a MSc. Banking and Finance and is currently enrolled in the MPhil/PhD Economic Development Policy Program while serving as President of the University of the West Indies Cave hill Student Guild (2015/2016). Dalano who is a recipient of several scholarships affirmed “I was fortunate to go to school on scholarship after scholarship beginning at secondary school up to present. I am forever grateful for those opportunities.”

His current thesis focuses on post-independence education policy and practice in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It essentially explores the developments that have been witnessed in the sector between 1979 and 2000, and that of the “Education Revolution” that began in 2001. One of the major objectives is to examine the extent to which education policy has contributed to socioeconomic development (or lack thereof) in the country over the period of study.

When not occupied with work or studies the English Premier League watcher Manchester City fan spends time watching movies based on books mostly on his “to watch” list. In relation to his study strategy Dalano stated “I really wouldn’t say that I have the best ethic with it comes to studying, but I’ve become really adept at grasping key concepts. I believe that, that coupled with effective study groups and constantly re-reading and re-working the material describes my strategy”.

While Dalano has had exceptional academic performances, his success has not been without challenges. He was raised by a single mother of four (two boys and two girls) in an extended family environment. He recollected his early years “ Financially life was difficult growing up. At one point in time it was eleven of us in a three bedroom wooden house that was periodically without running water and electricity. My mother always worked hard to ensure that we had enough to eat and what we needed to attend school. Eventually the five of us moved out and into a rented apartment”.

He noted his greatest struggle was getting over the death of his mother who passed away in 2011, “she was my all and guiding light in everything that I did” he affirmed. “It remains difficult but I try to keep busy and look to the future while cherishing the memories. My service to my fellow students at the Cave Hill Campus over the years has given me plenty of time to develop and to realize that she lives on in what I am able to accomplish in this life. My family and close friends have also been pillars of strength at times when I have lost my way” he further added.

While admitting to having many role models he pointed out Dr. Ralph Gonsalves as one of those he holds a special admiration for “Recently I read the some of the writings of Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. Politics aside, I am impressed by his story and what he is doing for my country in terms of the development in education and poverty reduction. I hope to contribute in similar ways”. He went on to add “Dr. Gonsalves is a visionary and strategic thinker. I am pleased with what he has been able to do for the education sector thus far in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Also, over the years as PM he has demonstrated that a small nation such as ours can have a voice on regional matters. He always speaks out on the issues and challenges confronting our region, and I think for that he has earned the respect of many across the Caribbean and internationally”.

His Passion and Vision

My passion comes from my upbringing and the desire it cultivated in me so see poverty eradicated and opportunities provided for the most vulnerable. Seeing my family move out of poverty used to be my biggest motivating factor, and of late I have been making good on some promises I made my mother. In my mother’s final days she asked some things of me that I intend to live up to. For example, completing my postgraduate education is one of them, ensuring that my younger sister goes to university is another. She also urged me to lead a happier life (she always called me a worrier). Those are just some of the things that she asked and that I keep at the back of my mind.

Some people see this as a negative but I really love the size St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s refreshing to be able to move between virtually any locations in a matter of a couple of hours. It also makes for a more close-knit society where most of the population know each other. Sadly, because I have basically spent the last 6 1/2 years in Barbados I have lost touch with most of the organisations in which I once had an interest. I will endeavour to reconnect in the future. I intend on one day playing a part in the further development of my country and this region. I also want to do more for youth and student advocacy regionally. Aside from that, I would like to give some years of service to a development oriented organisation such as the Commonwealth, UNDP or the Caribbean Development Bank before eventually entering politics in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. I would relish the opportunity to be Minister of Education or Rural Development.

How would you make a difference as Minister of Education or Rural development?

There are several lingering disparities between rural and urban communities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I would aim to implement programs and initiatives to bridge the gaps. One is the lack of employment opportunities in our rural areas (this is not to say that rural persons are not employed but rather that their jobs are predominantly in urban districts). The vast majority of workplaces are located in and around Kingstown, our capital. There needs to be a push towards developing other areas of the country into miniature cities similar to what we see in Warrens and Speightstown in Barbados so that they can become employment hubs, reduce the congestion in Kingstown and foster wider economic activity in the country. I think our country also is in need of an improved transportation system (possibly overseen by the Government) that would allow for the movement of persons beyond peak times. What currently exists is a system that stifles economic activity outside of regular working hours.

In terms of education, I would work to further improve the quality and access to education across the board and at all levels. Incorporating technology and developing curricula that is responsive to the changing world in which we live. Education, rural development and poverty reduction while separate to some are in my mind inextricably linked. At present these are serious issues in my country. In my mind, we cannot have a system where urban districts are provided with better, and more access to quality education and learning. We also cannot have a system that does not acknowledge that income is a large determinant of what some are able to achieve in their lifetimes. It is by marrying these issues that we will realize that education contributes to poverty reduction and that they in turn contribute to rural development. We therefore can use this ideological prospective to help fashion strategies and initiatives geared at addressing some of the major issues of our time.

Development requires financing, what ideas do you have in for generating new national revenue?

Much like in the times of industrialization by invitation, foreign investment remains important to generating national revenue. I am one of those who subscribes to the view that the advent of an international airport will bring with it opportunities for economic progress. Foreign investment in tourism and other sectors (once deemed unfeasible because of the lack of air access) should spur an increase in businesses operating on our shores and provide employment opportunities for our people. Theoretically this should broaden the tax base and revenue collection. The strategies we use to encourage this type of investment are key to sustainable growth and development.

As his pursuit of excellence continues we can look forward to Dalano realizing his vision and making some important strides in the development of his country and this region (Caricom).

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