A Look At Cave Hill

Submitted by Looking Glass

First congratulations to our new Chief Justice and David Goddard author of “In The Midst.” Let us hope the very unusual topic, a great endeavour, becomes a best seller. Two more stars for old Combermere and more to come.

Education implies a concept of man, the world and socio-economic relations and as such requires interdisciplinary focus. Barbados in many respects is isolated from the world, away from an environment and facilities conducive to innovation, creativity, problem solving and divergent thinking.

Some years ago science and technology Ministers from developed countries met at the OECD in Paris to discuss how to improve economic performance and generate jobs. Conclusion: “the ability to develop, diffuse and commercially exploit knowledge is among the most essential factors of productivity growth and sustainable development.” Hence the most successful countries will likely be those most innovative, develop new knowledge and diffuse it.

Today higher education is undergoing profound transition almost everywhere, becoming more compatible with the labour force and with social relations. In China, India, Brazil, South Korea, Japan and Mexico education has been reformulated, secondary and tertiary curricula restructured and augmented with case studies and a heavy dose of social consciousness. Programmes have been and are being launched to reform research and development activities. Business schools have shifted emphasis from one-dimensional and mathematical models and limited paradigms of human behaviour to a more qualitative, integrative and socially sensitive approach to enable managers to play a more significant role in policy formation, services and social relations.

Some twenty years later Cave Hill remains asleep at the wheel “bound to utilitarian ethical monism,” cultivating students according to established tradition, developing skills for which there is at best a diminishing demand. Emphasis is on a graduate in every household, “accommodating 12000 students by 2015” (Advocate 2/22/2011), and “providing opportunities for all persons to get a university degree regardless of their academic qualifications (Advocate 4/27//2010). Will admission requirements and curricula be skewed? Asking those not qualified to become university graduates is at best demeaning, moreso in an economy with limited job generation potential. With the out-migration doors essentially closed it enhances diminishing returns to the individual and country. Soon the bank clerk will be required to have a first degree the messenger “A” levels. The socio-psychological implications are hardly encouraging.

Narrow scholarship encourages cloning. Cave Hill needs to foster/encourage creativity, divergent thinking, independent decision making and problem solving instead of textbook regurgitation. Education needs to be rationalised to the socio-economic capability of the country and to be an indispensable factor for mobility and economic development (Social Implications of Education and Economic Development). We need changes in structure and substance not physical plant. To this end the entire social sciences programme needs to be restructured with more overlap between core subjects and subfields and include local history. And we need to expand the range of options open to students.

Skills once thought exclusive to mankind is being replaced by technology and software. But we are without a laboratory or technical facility. Kids wishing to do science must go to the Mona where there is no such facility and pay their own way. Denmark recently developed wireless postage stamps, Pepsi a bottle from corn husk and vegetable waste etc. Who knows what our kids would produce and contribute to our development? Scientific illiteracy deprives kids of the capability to respond and contributing to the economy or culture and leaves the country vulnerable to political and economic manipulation.

Economists are not trained to discern human behaviour characteristics. Economics is bounded in rational human assumptions. Mathematical modeling to the extent it assumes rationality is or can be misleading. We are terribly short of learning/teaching resources. The library like the public one is in dire need of updating. There is a disgusting shortage of case studies and little by way of research. Teachers, their shortcomings not withstanding, can only teach what they know.

Activism requires a constant supply of ideas and innovation. Students need to learn more about real life complexity and should have access to relevant information and or those with it. To partially overcome this deficit Cave Hill should invite experts in the field for a week or more as guest lecturers: persons like Niall Fergusson, Nouriel Roubini, Janice Stein of U of T Business School and Virgin Airlines Richard Branson to name a few. Mr. Branson would offer great insight about the travel and tourism business, especially as it relates to our largest market the UK. I am sure these persons will welcome the opportunity to contribute and it is very very easy to arrange.

Management is people oriented not a one style fits all affair. It is multi-dimensional and so requires a different style. And planning too is an integrated activity. The Business School curricula should feature more qualitative thinking; factors like interpersonal relationships and knowledge about the socio-economic environment. It would enable managers and business leaders to play a more effective role in policy formation, finance, government and social relations. We do not need people all trained to think alike.

Local businesses are generally in bad shape (not due to the recession or declining consumer income). Some of the largest and oldest ones have recorded declining profits in the last five years. With the economy going nowhere layoffs seem inevitable. They have vague knowledge of marketing, the local market and the external factors impacting revenue and are stuck for solutions. They need to identify and reposition products and create by-products. A few manufacturing facilities have the where-with-all to create by-products at little extra cost which, along with their basic products, can penetrate external markets.

In addition to being more interdisciplinary the business school faculty should be required to work outside the classroom and to use the local businesses arena as their case study laboratory. And business students, especially the MBA ones, required to undertake at least summer ‘apprenticeships.’ I do not believe businesses would be averse to this. The practical experience would be more compatible with business and social relations, facilitate their operational mindset, enable them to identify and solve problems and hopefully reduce rational actor assumptions.

Research like marketing is almost a bad word. We know little about our hotel industry, less about the tourism business and the manpower situation. Without this knowledge government and private sector planning remains suspect at best. The implications of 30,000 plus expatriates ensconced on the island in terms of business, employment and socio-economic relations are indeed profound, but apparently not worthy of researching. We need a research unit not a theological building.

To those who my have qualms because the academic revolution challenge traditional forms/approaches and or their situation, be reminded concern here is with the Administration and Management not faculty per se. The latter is another matter.

0 thoughts on “A Look At Cave Hill

  1. Marston Gibson is the new Chief Justice? When did this happen? Did I miss the announcement? I know that the Government rush the amendment through Parliament to have him sworn in on All Fools’ Day, but something happened. What happened???? Let the country in on the secret.

  2. @Caswell Franklyn,

    This is a blog not a newspaper.

    Marston Gibson is going to be the Chief Justice.

    Tom Clarke would probably write he is the “de facto an soon to be the in facto CJ”.

  3. it does seem little weird they had enough time to gazette it. we should have been welcoming the new CJ on Friday unless his contract in the US has 1 month notices so then he be arriving mid to end of month.

  4. Who cares ?
    I dont give a hog’s hair, a pig’s belly nor a swine’s ass who is nor who is not, what is or isnt and when it will be or wont ve as long as I could drink a rum in a rum shop down Black Rock.

    The thing is that the DLP under Freundel Stuart is a government intransit–no sense of permanence who rushed and botched the appointment and the events will scar the man for life. He is going to be on tenderhooks coming to Barbados. It is easier for him where he is

  5. @Madam sow pig
    You say you don”t give a whatever about dis or dat.However you seem to know what the DLP goverment did about theCJ appointment. You also thoght it wise to advice the CJ as to what is easy for him. BTW how many rums did you guzzel down before you wrote your comment.?

  6. Mr Looking Glass, do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces….

    Perhaps Bajans already have EXACTLY the education system that we deserve…
    The type of education system that you seem to be hinting at would be associated with an innovative, creative, productive and forward-thinking people…

    Why would Bajans desire such a system when we can ‘succeed’ by just joining a Lodge or a political party?….. or if push comes to shove, by just waiting around for government to provide..?

    …..do you think it is a coincidence that your pearls of analysis on our wasteful and outdated university have resulted so far, only in idle gossip about the only sensible thing that has been done by Government so far this year…?

    What education what???!
    ….is that not wasted on a fool?

  7. A really was looking forward to the day when lawyers would be removed from all transactions that involved real estate whether as collateral or as a commodity for sale

  8. Sometime ago we had an education debate whether UWI’s education curriculum should be plugged into a national strategy. Some believed that Barbadians should be allowed to see educational opportunities where their minds bid them and others believe the proliferation of lawyers, management grads etc is a financial drain on our scarce resources and we should have a rethink.

  9. Lawyers, management grads and a host of other bureaucratic type (economists and historians) should be made to pay for their own education. They only serve to clog the system and in no way contribute to the productive ability of the nation. The price for their services are high and in just about every instance consumers are forced by law to pay for what ever it is that these people do. They produce nothing and therefore their output is not measurable …

  10. BAFBFP
    Your comments are extremely valid.I continually ask myself what are we to expect if U.W.I (Cave Hill)continues to graduate 35-40 lawyers to be added to the rolls of the Barbados Bar Association every year.We are long past the point of saturation!There is no more dangerous individual in any society than one schooled in the laws which govern that society.Such an individual is equipped with knowledge which allows for the commission of crime and the avoidance of punishment.The problem is further compounded by the fact that many of them go into politics to make laws which are often self-serving to the profession.How depressing !

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