Official funeral for former education minister Louis Bertrand GeorgeSNO/ Press Release - Thursday, January 16th, 2014 at 11:00 AM
The late Louis Bertrand George, a former member of parliament for Micoud North, will receive an official funeral at the St. Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church in Micoud on Saturday, January 18, 2014.
The service will begin at 2 p.m. and his body will be available for viewing from the public between 12 and 1 p.m. at the Micoud Multi-purpose Centre.
Below is the biography of the late Louis Bertrand George:
Louis Bertrand George was born in Micoud, St. Lucia on October 10, 1950. He was the first born of nine surviving children of Pierre and Marguerite George.
Early in his life, his father travelled overseas to seek employment and the day to day responsibility for nurturing Louis fell to his mother from whom he obtained the caring, modest and independent personality which was the nature of the man.
Upon his return from overseas, his father, who was an accomplished and successful farmer and musician, provided inspiration and was the perfect role model for Louis, who turned out to be a keen agriculturist himself, as well as a devoted educator and later on a politician.
Louis was educated at the Micoud Infant and Primary Schools and the Vieux Fort Secondary School, which he entered in 1963, being among the first group of students admitted to the institution. There he developed a reputation as an accomplished athlete and soon became a member of the school’s sprint and relay teams. He was also a member of the school’s Cadet Corps in which he rose to the rank of corporal.
At the end of his secondary school education in 1970, he was appointed a teacher at the Micoud Primary School and that same year was accepted as a student teacher at the St. Lucia Teachers’ College. On completing his studies and receiving the Qualified Teaching Certificate (UWI) in 1972, Louis took up appointment as a qualified teacher at the Micoud Junior Secondary School. There he taught general science, music and mathematics.
In 1977 Louis George proceeded to the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture and Forestry (ECIAF) in Trinidad to pursue studies in agriculture. He graduated in 1979 with a diploma in agriculture and upon his return to Saint Lucia he took on a senior appointment with Geest Industries Limited.
Louis’ dedication to community service led him to develop a passion for youth, sports and community development. In this regard he served as a member of the Micoud Youth and Sports Council, later on becoming its secretary. He represented his community with great pride and distinction at both cricket and football. He was later elected chairman of the Micoud Village Council and spearheaded the execution of a number of community projects, in the process preparing him for the representative role he was to play later on in life.
His interest in the well-being of the community and his performance in the various roles assigned to him earned him the respect and confidence of many persons in the wider community, including the then Parliamentary Representative Rodney Jn Baptiste and Political Leader of the United Workers Party, Sir John Compton.
It was no surprise when he was approached and invited to contest the Micoud North seat at the 1982 General Elections, a proposition he accepted with humility. Following his own success in capturing the seat and the victory of the party at the national polls, Louis was made a minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office.
He was later assigned to the Ministry of Education as a junior minister, soon after to be appointed minister for education and culture. His ability and competence were further tested with the subsequent addition of the portfolio of labour to his ministerial responsibilities.
In his capacity as minister for education, culture and labour, he made an outstanding contribution both nationally and at the regional level. The confidence and trust which he engendered both within his constituency and as a minister led to his re-election in four succeeding General Elections. During his tenure, he also served as deputy prime minister.
Notable among his achievements as minister for education were:
1. The consolidation and transformation of the three independent colleges (the Teachers’ College, the A-level College and the Technical College) at Morne Fortune into the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC).
2. The establishment of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) Southern Division
3. The introduction of the post-secondary programme at Vieux Fort Comprehensive School-Campus B
4. The successful establishment of the University of the West Indies (UWI) bachelor of education (B.Ed) programme and the introduction of the first two years of UWI’s Social Sciences programme at SALCC.
5. The end to discrimination against Rastafarian children in schools, allowing them to attend regular schooling.
He left an indelible mark on the labour sector as well. He was instrumental in convening the first Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Labour Ministers’ Conference, which was held in Saint Lucia under his chairmanship. The last May Day celebrations in which all unions participated as a united front, were held during his tenure, and it was due in large measure to his insistence that the unions should work together.
As minister for labour, he brought to the fore the issues related to the recognition of trade unions and introduced the debate on the Labour Code. In his quiet and unassuming manner, he settled a number of disputes between trade unions and employers, with no fanfare, thereby preventing their escalation into more serious problems.
He championed the cause of workers in the tourism sector, and stated vociferously that Saint Lucians should not simply hold jobs like bell boys, maids and waiters at the lower end of the tourism industry, but should aspire to the very top, managing and even owning hotels. He was taken to task for it in some quarters, but it was an expression of his vision that Saint Lucians should participate meaningfully in the industry and secure the commensurate benefits.
In furtherance of his personal development and knowledge, Louis successfully completed a master of business administration (MBA) with the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill Campus), while serving as minister for education. He was elected deputy political leader of the UWP in 1996 and played a vital role in the leadership transition which took place then. In the 1997 General Election, he was the only successful candidate of his party and became the leader of the opposition in the House of Assembly until 2002.
The dignity, determination and commitment with which he represented his party and the wider public interest in the House of Assembly during this period, as the sole dissenting voice on many issues and ensuring checks and balances were placed on the government, will remain one of the truly outstanding contributions in the political landscape of Saint Lucia.
He was instrumental in the return of Sir John Compton to the helm of the party in 2006 and subsequently to government. Louis retired from public life in 2002 because of illness, but continued to willingly make his experience and wisdom available to all those who sought it.
He was appointed the chairman of the committee to consider the upgrading of the SALCC to university status but ill-health forced him to give up a task which he would have dearly loved to see to its fruition. In 2009 he was awarded the Saint Lucia Cross for his contribution to national development.
He was married to Agnes Joseph George and together they have five children.
He died on the second day of January 2014 at the age of 63 years.
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