Home Forums Peace, Justice and Unity Developing national cohesion, a truly Mauritian culture and civic competencies a

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    (Dr) Blandine Emilien


    Extolled repeatedly for its economic resilience and success story, Mauritius has built a favourable reputation on which it has cared to rest from the 1980s, especially after successive governments had managed to get a grip of the political turbulence of the post-independence decade. Since independence, Mauritius has demonstrated its capacity to face uncertainty and overcome exogenous change by diversifying its economy in a timely manner. Developing new economic sectors to create employment, building necessary infrastructure to attract foreign direct investment and fulfilling immediate economic imperatives to always ensure economic progress has never been an issue for Mauritius, and this, regardless of the political party or parties that may have been in power. However, the same cannot be said for the consolidation of nationalist sentiment, for the development of a sound degree of collectivist culture, for the renewal of the political scene with young, passionate Mauritian individuals and for creating, henceforth, a country where people do not cultivate a latent post-colonial malaise due to frustration, feelings of helplessness and passive sense of nation-belonging.
    Mauritius is in need of more cohesion among its multi-ethnic citizens so that economic success does not have a race, face or colour but can be attempted by Mauritians of any ethnic group. Mauritius is also in need of young leaders who can move the country forward and ensure that Mauritian citizens not only find work and satisfy their material needs but all live the fulfilling life they have reason to value because they feel safe, socially connected, part of a nation and capable of discernment rather than feeling like bearers of a profound and dangerous cultural malaise. Mauritius is in need of a society, mindfully built in a way in which brain drain is not standard practice and quality of life and relationships become a priority. Now that Mauritius has reached an era where lessons have been learned from colonial legacies, perhaps it is time to aim for sustainable development that entails both economic and social resilience in the long term.
    Fortunately, a few groups of citizens have started developing- through their own initiatives, campaigns of awareness in favour of the development of civic competencies among youths. Others have initiated programmes and activities in favour of the development of social leadership among youths so that these young individuals develop skills beyond work that may help them build a more united nation, understand how to manage conflicts, and develop their sense of decision-making. Still, caveats exist. Some of these groups are offshoots of specific religious groups, thus allowing its agenda to be imbibed with a specific set of religious values, which may not be attractive to young people from other religious backgrounds. Other groups may exist but are small, thus limited to a small portion of the population. Mass diffusion of sustainable change in Mauritius for a better integration of economic and social progress will require the rethinking of societal development.

    Potential solutions
    1. Maurice Ile Durable (MID) is a platform and model that has existed for a while now and can be rendered more active in this endeavour. MID does not relate only to environmental matters. Societal progress is an inherent part of a country’s sustainability. Therefore, MID could be used to help develop sustainable social development in Mauritius. The ‘Education’ segment and related committee in the MID model can work together with a group of young intellectuals and citizens of Mauritius to find immediate solutions for the lack of national cohesion and social fulfilment in Mauritius. This committee may develop a medium-long term vision and define what ‘social change’ will imply for Mauritius. A list of actions that will need to be determined to help bring a mindset shift within Mauritian society.
    2. For change to occur, awareness needs to be underpinned by tools given to those concerned. Ministries of Mauritius (namely, Ministries of culture, employment, social welfare, etc) may adopt an inter-institutional and interdisciplinary approach to build a well-structured, step-by-step and long-term programme that will allow actions to be operationalised in the form of courses, awareness campaigns, cohesion-friendly activities on a regular basis in order to create awareness among youths for the need for change and regarding their roles in triggering social change in Mauritius. Government agencies and ministries can learn from individuals- ‘institutional entrepreneurs’- who have already started such programmes and initiatives on a small scale for now.

    3. This can be an experimentation, the end is not known, but the process can be monitored, measured by researchers who exist among citizens and the diaspora. Such change is subtle and needs to be monitored, measured and observed. Set up a team to ensure monitoring over the next 5-10 years with the use of different devices, documents, reports, any form of writing, visual support that can help identify progress in the change process or loopholes. Change agents will need to commit in this long term national project.

    4. A holistic approach is required c so that issues and solutions regarding varieties of elements contained in social progress are taken into consideration (career paths – work; choices of studies—education; civic competencies, conflict management political and nationalist sense of belonging; suburb-based initiatives-developing quality of life around us, etc). Once issues and potential solutions are identified, different forms of tools can be used to develop sustainable social development in Mauritius.

    5. Unlock funding infrastructure to support these change programmes. Ministries can help young researchers and citizens access adequate funding to put implement identified tools
    For example: a group of citizens wold like to experiment with let’s say: theatre courses to help young people develop conflict management skills or presentational skills, funding must be made available over periods of time with monitoring of progress to allow for such experimentation.

    6. Government officials provide ensure links between Mauritius and international connections and organisms (e.g UNESCO), so that those involved in putting in place the change programme can benefit from these international relations’ help and support.
    1. Mauritius is small and can change for the better as a whole country, it is an advantage that we need to embrace, in comparison with bigger countries whose regions may change one at a time.
    2. Social change will imply less brain drain, quality life for our children, our children’s sense of belonging and desire to remain in the country and this will help build our ‘post-post colonial’ Mauritius further.
    3. Mauritian reputation as a resilient nation will include both its economic and social facets.
    4. Mauritius will only attract further investment if it becomes a place where local frustration has been reduced.
    5. Better jobs, more Decent work (as recommended by the ILO) will be created, Mauritius will be more able to develop forms of expertise and skilled workers who will be paid adequately for their true capacities.
    6. Mauritius will just become a more sustainable place to live and could be an exemplar for the regions of bigger countries.

    #58091 Reply

    Salt Slow • Julia Armfield • 9781250224774

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