Social Services

From the start, Ramgoolam outlined his vision of the welfare state. His policy was to bring education to the doorstep of the people and he started the process of building a primary school in each locality. A firm believer in the power of education as a social leveller and as the means to improve the standard of the workforce, he invested his energy to strengthen education through his own attendance at weekly school anniversaries. He established the principle that all the existing languages of this country should be taught in the schools in a bid to promote social peace, stability and harmony.
lee_kwan_yu_small.jpg (6520 bytes) The success of his language and cultural policy was to inspire other leaders, including Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yu who sent a Singaporean delegation to study how Ramgoolam had established cultural harmony through education and the television services.

Another pillar of development as he saw it was to bring health to the people, by improving their standards of living, giving them the basic social amenities like water, good housing, healthy nutrition, health education.

In 1948,as a first step in realising his vision of the future welfare state ,Ramgoolam set up the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund to improve the standards of living of the mass of labourers and sugar workers. The SILWF was to obtain its revenue from a duty imposed on the export of sugar. It set up a number of welfare schemes designed to help the workers, including the construction of houses. silwf_pg11_small.jpg (10317 bytes)

By the 1970’s, the SILWF had provided an infrastructure on which he could build an agro-based economy, including sugar by-products to provide animal feed.

Since 1953, he set up a Social Welfare Department to give shape to the Welfare State and consolidate the social security system he had long been dreaming.

Advised by his close friend, K.Hazareesingh as his Social Welfare Commissioner , he lay down the infrastructure for the development of the basic social services, education, health and social security, which were to stand as the pillars of his Welfare State.

In the field of health, his policy from the start had been to decentralise health services through the construction of a network of dispensaries, health centres and district hospitals in a bid to improve people’s health, wipe out the contagious diseases , notably, malaria, diphteria, typhoid, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis . He built a network of Social Welfare Centres throughout the country in order to provide social services, health and nutrition education, immunization and childcare , maternity and other medical services

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By Anand Mulloo 15.9.98