Sir hilary Beckles

From a Native Son – Economic Prosperity is Tied up with Improved Education

Hal Austin

Introduction:
It seems as if the ambitions of Sir Hilary Beckles has no limit, given the revelations that the UWI now has plans to occupy the grand Mutual building at the bottom of Broad Street as a campus for part-timers. Somehow it seems as if the notion of prudent spending in these tough times does not apply to the empire-building of Sir Hilary.

In a crude way, it is the exploitation of the nation’s traditional love of education and qualifications, by a university administrator who seems to behave like a horse out of control. As a small island-state, we do not have an abundance of natural resources, Ivy League universities, or even a vast military to enforce our policies. What we do have is a nation hungry for education and a willingness to go to great lengths to educate ourselves, our children and our fellow citizens. Somehow, and for some reason, this reality has rarely impacted with our education policymakers.

Our education policymakers, many of them educated at Cave Hill, seem intimidated by the very idea of imposing tough conditions and benchmarks on Sir Hilary and driving the Cave Hill campus in to the belt-tightening 21st century. In fact, so poor is our education policymaking that since the end of the Second World War, Cameron Tudor still remains out outstanding minister of education. And to believe that we have declined from Tudor, whatever his faults, to the present minister Ronald Jones and the gross incompetence of Alexandra School, is a slap in the face to a once great island.

Under any new reforms, UWI should be given no longer than ten years to reach the top 3000 on the Shanghai Global university rankings, and a further five years to be in the top 1500. All staff should be contractually compelled to publish peer-reviewed essays annually, allowing with a full teaching programme. Those failing to reach the target should be dismissed.

Restructuring:
The global economic crisis has caused most of the world to re-think how they make policy and Barbados has a stronger need to tighten its belt than most. But, economic crises are moments when good policymakers come in to their own, when they device innovative and efficient policies that would benefit the nation not over the next five years, but decades. As a nation, we somehow prefer to bury our heads in the sand than to face reality, and one of these myths – pat of the myth-making of nationhood – is that somehow Barrow introduce ‘free’ education to Barbadians, who until then were living in the dark.

It is true that in December 1961 the new Barrow government introduced a new policy, effective from the following year, that “…children of persons qualified by birth, residence or service in the island would pay no more tuition fees to government-aided secondary schools…” But this was a policy tweak, an evolution, not a revolution, although for all kinds of reasons this has been seen as a historic watershed by the Barrow disciples.

In fact, we are in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water, since before the introduction of this policy there were an abundance of scholarships for bright pupils to allow them to go to the existing ten grammar schools (Harrison College, Queens College and Lodge, the first grade schools, and Combermere, Foundation Girls and Foundation Boys, Alexandra, Alleyne and Coleridge and Parry). What we are now witnessing is the so-called Barrow revolution reaching middle age. All our active politicians an senior civil servants have been educated either wholly or in part under the Barrow paradigm, so it is fair to say that what we have is the natural outcome of the Barrow promise.

Economics of Educations:
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, waste of education spend is the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies. It is, in many ways, Hilary’s own Folly. The university has come a long way since the Faculty of Arts and Science was opened at the Harbour in October 1963. Now it embraces about 50 acres at Cave Hill, comprising a test-class cricket field, a silver-service restaurant and elaborate non-teaching facilities.

And, on Sir Hilary’s shopping list is a further site in the Port, occupancy of the historic Mutual building at the bottom of Broad Street, a hotel to house visiting Ivy League students who find higher education in Barbados so exciting they want to come in droves, and plans to expand overseas. On top of all this, if the Chinese can produce the Yuans, Sir Hilary would also introduce a mandarin-speaking faculty at the university.
It is, of course, the expansionist dreams of a fantasist, of someone whose grandiose plans have outgrown reality and who politicians and policymakers obviously find it difficult to rein in. It is not funny.

In years archaeologists will be visiting the site and pointing out to heritage tourists that on that site was situated the great university campus, on par with the Universities of Timbuktu and Alexandra. To come back down to earth, Barbadian taxpayers cannot afford such an expensive luxury. At present government spend about eight per cent of GDP on education; this should easily rise, incrementally, to about 12 per cent by the end of the next parliamentary session. But, instead of spending millions expanding an institutional that clearly sees increasing numbers to be more important than quality of teaching, government should focus at the entry level of education with clear and transparent outcomes.

Any fundamental educational reforms in Barbados should start at the bottom end, nursery and primary education, rather than waste more money on a university that is dumbing down almost every academic year. But before spending taxpayers’ money, government must set itself a number of desirable outcomes: that by the end of statutory education (between five and sixteen) the vast majority of children would be competently bi-lingual (English/Spanish), competent at maths, have adequate computer skills, can swim, play a musical instrument, have basic financial planning skills and be physically fit.

There must also be proper provision for the one-to-one teaching of especially talented and gifted children, so that mixed ability teaching would not hold them back. This is a gap that can easily be filled by part-time recently retired teachers. For those moving in to further education and skills training, there should be a network of Sixth Form colleges initially two in St Michael and one each in St Peter, St Philip and Christ Church, catering for the academically-minded. Then a network of specialist further education colleges: music, sports, fine art and performance arts, business and commerce and science, design and technology.

Then there should be the development of the Samuel Jackson Prescod Polytechnic, first by making it a campus of the Community Campus, then having it providing a full programme of skills training, full, part-time and weekend courses on a first com, first served basis. This without the relevant knowledge of maths and English can be given supplementary lessons based on their skills needs, rather than on the academic model which they had already failed. For example, if you want to teach a youngster maths and he had failed at school, then based it on the trade he is learning, or reading based on safety notices or understanding a blueprint.

Professionalising Teaching:
One of the first decisions to be made in any reform of education is to reach a fair and modern settlement with teachers. As I have said here before, this can be done by making teaching a graduate profession, improving pay and conditions, raise the status of the profession to that of law and medicine; but a crucial part of any new settlement must be a no-strike agreement. At present we have teachers’ unions that function more like the worst kinds of industrial unions from the wild days of the 1960s. Young people must learn to respect teachers for all the right reasons, not for selfishly going on strike, but for their impact on their moral and academic learning. I can still remember the impact a stare from the late, great Harry Sealy could have on a rowdy boy, and I was very active at school.

Analysis and Conclusion:
As our educational system declines, the more secretive and inward-looking the education authorities become. For example, back in the 1950s, it was normal for school exam results to be made public. Even now the Caribbean Examination Council passes on to the ministry the results for individual schools. One can only surmise that the only reason governments – both BLP and DLP – do not publish these results is because they want to hide them from the public, and parents in particular. Every year these results should be published so that parents know the quality of education at the schools their children attend. Publication will form part of the benchmarks set by government for each school to achieve, forming part of an overall picture of national educational aspirations and actual achievements.

It is important that all new recruits to the profession should be graduates, with improved pay and conditions and a no-strike clause in their contracts. There should also be clear disciplinary and dispute resolution procedures which must be adhered to.

Another important reform is government has to separate out vocational training (with the exception of law and medicine) and the academic; concentrating academic learning at the university, and the vocational and skills at the Community College. Unlike Trinidad and Jamaica, there is no need for a so-called university of technology or a rival institution to Cave Hill; all that is need is a properly managed Cave Hill. Secondary schools should also be set a benchmark of reaching the top 25 of Programme for International Student Assessment within 15 years.

Finally, asking government to decentralise the management of education is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. But, it has to if Barbados with a colonial educational  system, structured in the 1870s and based on a British system itself structured to accommodate farmers, is going to survive this highly globally competitive era. Heads should be given full control of the management of schools, reporting to a school board made up of representatives of the teaching and non-teaching staff, parents, the constituency council, the local community and, in secondary schools, the student population.

Apart from these proposals, government should give constituency councils oversight of education in their catchment areas and leave central government responsible for strategy and administration, such as payroll and pensions contribution.

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No Comments on “From a Native Son – Economic Prosperity is Tied up with Improved Education”

  1. robert ross June 1, 2012 at 12:37 AM #

    This is a first rate post and I am glad to be able to say so. So far as Cave Hill is concerned, H Austin you are spot on. You ask why Beckles has been able to get away with it. Answer: he has put his stooges, many of whom are women, in key posts and rules the rest by fear.On standards: he has reduced Faculties to College of Further Education status. This applies most particularly to the Faculty of Law.

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  2. JRB June 1, 2012 at 1:58 AM #

    As a Cave Hill student I think the university tends to be biased towards the humanities and social sciences, they have a master’s degree in cricket studies for example. I am in the pure and applied science faculty and it is in my opinion and that of a few lecturers of which I have conversed with that the current foundation courses even elaborate this bias, particularly Caribbean civilization and law, governance society & economy. The first thing I was told when I did those courses was everything that I had been previously taught in secondary school was wrong and that these courses were to enlighten us about the truth. Then the two courses proceeded to cover all the “wrong” material I had learnt in CXC history and CAPE Caribbean Studies. Truly those courses seem to push more the agenda of ‘the white man must pay’ rather than share any new knowledge, and most of that information is forgotten asap as propaganda.
    I think the university should be more focused on the future than the past, and those particularly courses should be optional and not compulsory. Rather, foundation courses should be “foundations” and suited to particular faculties. For example in the biological and chemistry department a lot of student struggle due to a poor maths foundation, as CXC maths is the only mathematics requirement, E.G. 65 out of 123 individuals were “eligible for summer school for introductory biochemistry” based on provisional results this semester; a polite way of saying these persons failed. Rather than have some guy going on about Jaguar warrior chiefs or the plantocracy or Hilary Beckles going on about the history of Caribbean cricket, in my opinion foundation courses in mathematics and scientific literature research and presentations, (English for academic purposes tends to be too general for scientific reports) should be the foundation courses for the faculty. At the very least A level mathematics should be required. If one looks at the requirements for degree programs overseas in places such as the USA it seems that UWI lets you off easy, for example a biology major elsewhere requires A level biology and chemistry and CXC mathematics essentially plus filler, overseas you would also need to do physics, advanced mathematics such a calculus and a statistics course (read A level physics and maths). Because then a student can get in with CXC grade 3s and CAPE grade fives in just those subjects currently required a lot of them get hurt and rebuked by the level one courses. Of course a lot of students fail also due to the fete or CBA mentality; I recall hearing a student saying “no working getting do this weekend and I gine hold some zeros cause carnival this weekend”.
    I agree that rather than expand the university should be looking to improve first. They seem slow to use technology, as course evaluation forms were still handed out up to this semester in paper form rather than a digital survey using their CHOL platform. Plus a lot of the equipment is subpar and time is often lost by screen projectors not working and when the techs finally come and set it up, there tend to be issues like incorrect colours caused by old cables, (this varies from lecture room to lecture room). In my first year I recalled losing 30 minutes of a lecture this way and of course the lecturers have to speed up to cover material in the allotted time, making it harder for students to catch all the necessary information.
    “Any fundamental educational reforms in Barbados should start at the bottom end, nursery and primary education, rather than waste more money on a university that is dumbing down almost every academic year.” A lot of my friends are in humanities or social sciences because according to them, “the work is easier”, they either apply and enter those faculties directly, or apply for the science faculty and after a first year beat down, switch faculties. One of my friends who is now in the law faculty and received a semester GPA in the mid 2.s, and he recalled how easy courses like those in history were compared to what he is doing now. There is a reason that the social science faculty is the biggest in terms of student numbers. I’m not saying that there is no purpose for some of the majors or courses offered there, but the word on the hill is those are the faculties you want to go for an easy time.
    “That by the end of statutory education (between five and sixteen) the vast majority of children would be competently bi-lingual (English/Spanish), competent at maths, have adequate computer skills, can swim, play a musical instrument, have basic financial planning skills and be physically fit.” I’m not quite sure I fully agree with this because it seems like jack of all master of none. Mathematics is a given and computer skills are important going forward into the future but individuals can be productive without add-ons such as another language or a musical instrument. Usually they focus on their interest so for example a person interested in business might do principles of accounts, principles of business, IT etc, and not learn a musical instrument as it brings no real bonus for them.

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  3. Poor boy June 1, 2012 at 3:22 AM #

    Hal Austin like he dont give a rat’s arse about Sir Hilary the former Black Power bad boy turned good boy accepting knighthood from the white Queen of England. Is Sir Hilary convoluted?a tortured man? what?
    Owen Arthur backing Hilary he say he will build out Cave hill, Warrens etc into a University town so more taxpayers money will get lick out on Hilary’s orders for his grand vsion.

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  4. Crusoe June 1, 2012 at 6:04 AM #

    Understand where you are coming from. However, the issue is bigger. It is a matter of standards, but national standards, not restricted to the UWI.

    One example is over on the other blog story on the Courts. All blame put on one (we are told, maybe so, do not know) incompetent or belligerent registrar.

    Ultimately however, a number of us warned that a new CJ would not be the be all and end all, no matter his excellence.

    Two years on and where are we? Cannot keeep blaming the past (re Sir David) A lot can be done in two years. The reality is that twenty-five years ago there were four Senior Judges and things worked fine. They and their staff knew what they were about, their intellectual capacity well known.

    If you doubt me, go and read Caribbean law reports and also read the results of appeals from the then Privy Council, the esteemed Law lords in England who fully respected the decisions of the Barbados Courts, then.

    Now, you have a case of many, i(s it nine?) judges (no one has asked why they cannot cope?) , the decisions being blasted by the CCJ , who incidentally themselves are not as recognised as the likes of Michael de la Bastide the former head of the CCJ.

    The decisions, one can read on the CCJ website, are faulty based on various factors, it would seem reasoning as one and seemingly not stuff hard to understand. This used to be rare, but now seems quite regular.

    To wit, declining standards.

    The blunt reality is that Barbados had it good, with people, from Ministers. judges, administrators, teachers, knowing what they were doing and having the interest to do it, having the intellectual capacity to do it well and succeeding.

    The blunt reality is that this is no longer the case. Unfortunately, one has to side with Owen Arthur when he called the make up of Parliament ‘poor-rakey’.

    This dearth of properly placed intellectual capacity and reach for excellence is exactly what he meant.

    People are busy pointing fingers, looking for places to blame, but lack of interest in ‘real’ education and ‘real’ advancement is where the issue lies.

    Pomposetting has become more important than substance. We hear of a lack of potentially qualified Police candidates, we hear of teachers not turning up at schools. We allow a quarrel between a headteacher and an angry group of teachers to escalate into a national fight, disruptive to substantive education, akin to the Lodge School debacle twenty years ago.

    We have a union leader making inapproprriate and irrelevant statements, intentionally or not causing serious concern, and not being properly held to account. Unfortunately this also reflects changing times too, that the union is becoming irrelevant and disregarded, thus the desperation to keep it alive.

    The reality is this, and know what?

    Errol Barrow or Tom Adams would NEVER have allowed this all to happen.

    That is a fact!

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  5. David June 1, 2012 at 6:37 AM #

    @Crusoe

    Have to disagree with much of your comment. We have to start holding people accountable or at the minimum to question them. The issue with Sir David is that he was heaped with plaudits when the damn system remained in a mess when he left office. Those who back CJ Marston knows that he will need help but it seems that he is prepared to rock the boat, see appointment of Justice Mason and his challenge to the registry to step up. We have to start supporting people who want to effect change instead of painting the problem as nebulous.

    Sir Hilary is another who expects that in an environment of declining revenue he should continue his bottomless pit expansion of the Campus and nobody should question. His response money in education is an investment not an expense. Of course the pragmatic among us who might agree knows that the money still has to come from somewhere. Are Barbadians prepared to suffer cutbacks in education, health etc? We talk big but who is prepared to take the bitter medicine?

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  6. Observing (and polling) June 1, 2012 at 8:07 AM #

    Good post Hal.
    My immediate thoughts are
    A) the interconnectedness of the policy suggestions
    B) the need to truly link educational planning and economic growth and
    C) societal impacts and perceptions on paradigm shifts in the sector

    We’ve been accustomed to “how things are” without a real vision for where we want to go and how education (from the 3 years old tot) can help us get there and recycle or gains for decades to come. The key policy makers don’t work together and we keep tossing 500 million at the sector without true analysis, accountability and assessment of its productivity in a modern and global context.

    Will reread and comment on the individual suggestions after coffee cup #1.

    By the way, no minister of education or government has the balls to do what we all know has become necessary. We simply CANNOT keep funding education the way we always have. Full stop.

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  7. David June 1, 2012 at 8:18 AM #

    A Mr. Eastmond who heads TVET has been lamenting the lack of resources allocated to technical and vocational training. Does it seem that in Barbados we stigmatise the segment of our educational development?

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  8. John June 1, 2012 at 9:00 AM #

    Is it the hard or soft sciences that drive economic development?

    When we answer this simple question we will understand whether the money spent on providing free Tertiary Education is an expense or an investment.

    The answer is right before our eyes if we look at the experiences of other countries.

    We have a real problem in Barbados, most of us are mathematically challenged, but I do not think it was always so.

    I am not sure if it is the application of the educators or the application of the student, or both, but in a society that always looks for the easy way out, mathematics will not be the subject of choice.

    There is not much science or education that does not emanate from math.

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  9. John June 1, 2012 at 9:04 AM #

    There is not much science or education that does not emanate from math.

    Ooops …… replace education with engineering.

    There is not much science or “engineering” that does not emanate from math.

    Like

  10. Observing (and polling) June 1, 2012 at 9:05 AM #

    @david
    We stigmatizegmarginalise anything that is non academic. Token praise given to technical, cultural and creative cannot overcome the message sent through legislation, renumeration and employment prospects… The artists, artisans and aspiring technicians know there’s a ceiling for them. The new HR Development strategy should remove this and put things on par but, will it?

    Like

  11. Ken R.Smith June 1, 2012 at 9:07 AM #

    An excellent article by ‘Native Son’. Sir you last two articles have been on point, you have succinctly put forward your proposals accompanied by the respective solutions.

    Like

  12. robert ross June 1, 2012 at 1:42 PM #

    @ JRB

    Thankyyou for your thoughtful survey from within.

    Like

  13. David June 1, 2012 at 2:46 PM #

    We are back to this point discussing if Barbadians should be allowed to study what their hearts bid or whether it should be harnessed i.e. align to the national strategic goal. But what is the goal?

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  14. Observing (and discoursing) June 1, 2012 at 4:01 PM #

    @DAvid
    herein lies the problem.
    We’ve had a national stretegic plan (2005-2025), a medium term development strategy and an HR development strategy among others.

    Since coming to power the DLP has jettisoned many of the strategic plans of the BLP. thus leaving us in a kind of “loop.” Regardless of philosophy, continuity of policy is important to ensuring stability. In the absence of this continuity, clear coherent and laser focused vision with feasible and realistic goals and implementation plans are the only other alternative. Sadly we’ve seen neither in any general way of late.

    One must question how many goals in the MTDS have been reached. How many from the manifesto *both parties)? How many in the HR strategy can be achieved? What about the National ICT sstrategy? The various strategic plans in the different ministries? We are too slow, reactive and uncertain/unwilling to do what is necessary for various reasons.

    At some point political maturity must mesh with national interest and those called (elected) to serve must do so with a reasonable balance of party philosophy and a vision for national development.

    Just observing

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  15. Crusoe June 1, 2012 at 8:35 PM #

    @David,

    But, how can you say that he needs support, when the issue is more one of competence than one of process?This is not the only area suffering.

    – The Auditor General has raised issues on the Inland Revenue computer system, which reflected a significant problem, which should not have needed such as the Auditor General to point out. Incompetence.

    – A huge amount of VAT owed to that department, failure to collect overdue monies. Incompetence. If you claim hindrance or improper process cause, then lack of management/ leadership competence.

    – Government buildings run to ruin. All the while we hear nonsense about an antiquities bill, when Government cannot even take care of the state’s own property. Incompetence or lack of leadership and management of resources.

    – Sell out of all significant commercial enterprises to overseas interests. Incompetence in management and strategic planning for the future of the country.

    – the complete fiasco of the insurance supervisory issue i.e. Clcio collapse. IIncompetence in captial letters.

    – Scotland District falling apart at the seams and it seems nothing is being done. Incompetence or lack of funds…..but if we let it fall apart we have further issues, so…incompetence.

    How can you say, from these examples, that the problem of incompetence is not an epidemic?

    You cannot solve symptoms, you have to solve the source of the problem.

    That is the issue.

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  16. Blogger2012 June 1, 2012 at 8:56 PM #

    @David

    Can u tell thi blog how long it was that Marson Gibson took up his appointment? It is tow years?

    Like

  17. Blogger2012 June 1, 2012 at 9:06 PM #

    @JRB

    havnt u noticed that in America there is a clamour for persons graduating from the humanities. They are the most rounded students. Please go and check or follow the news. All disciplines have their relevance, and i am happy that uwi insists that all the student do the the basic courses to give them an understaning of and appreciation for caribean society past and present. as for Use of English, i am happy that the social science students must pass that subejct to graduate. There is no easy faculty, people chose the faculty that suits their strenght. I was never good at math, and when i entered university i studied hisrtoy and sociolog. I returned and complete a post-graduate in management studies and i had to do a quatntavite subject. I must admit, I did enoug to pass and i have never had to use any aspect of that coures in the almost twenty years i did it.

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  18. Blogger2012 June 1, 2012 at 9:47 PM #

    @Caswell

    what debaitng skills owen has that Chris Sinckler and Donville and Davis Eswick dont have. What pookrakey he is talking about? He reminds me of the dog and the shadow. a man that stammars so miuch could be so hot in debaiting. Come on, when he entered politics and entered the house did he have the parliamentary skills. We are trying to potray him as the saviour to Barbados he does not have any skills that people in parliament dont have. He is afraid to enter the house because a lot was unearthered from when he was PM and he is afraid of what Chris will hurl at him, thats why he ducks, that excuse of parliament being pooraky is a cop out.

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  19. Blogger2012 June 1, 2012 at 9:48 PM #

    @David
    i thought so too, so why was Crusoe misleading this blog.

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  20. JRB June 1, 2012 at 10:30 PM #

    “havnt u noticed that in America there is a clamour for persons graduating from the humanities. They are the most rounded students. Please go and check or follow the news.”
    Your proof is? I have nothing against humanities or social sciences and they have their role in society but I certainly haven’t heard of this.
    “All disciplines have their relevance, and i am happy that uwi insists that all the student do the the basic courses to give them an understaning of and appreciation for caribean society past and present.”
    What understanding and what basics do they bring? What would the history of Caribbean cricket, for example, give me that allows me an advantage in life? It is that backward thinking that keeps progress back. Most of the material seems to be propaganda and a lot of it is already covered in secondary school and CAPE anyway. Those courses are no true “foundation” courses. UWI will never get to the top 3000 universities if it pushes courses like these rather than courses that actually supplement a degree. Why have several lecturers about the plantrocracy when it and slavery is no more and the time and resources could be put to better use. Make those courses optional (extra credit) so Sir Hilary can get his fix and implement true foundation courses so the degrees offered can be of higher quality.
    “as for Use of English, i am happy that the social science students must pass that subejct to graduate. There is no easy faculty, people chose the faculty that suits their strenght.”
    Not necessary an easy faculty, as all faculties will have those courses that no one gets an A in for example, but one that has a large amounts of easy courses. I have a friend who was average at Combermere, he does accounting at UWI and has a 4. GPA. I have two cousins who also did accounting and both have a 4. GPA. A 4. GPA is the stuff of legends whispered behind backs in my department. Some people do certain majors because they are truly interested and want a future in that subject, and some do them because the government pays the tertiary education fees and it gives them some more time at home under mum and dad before having to get a full time job. Plus think deeply about what “suits their strength” infers.
    “I was never good at math, and when i entered university i studied hisrtoy and sociolog.”
    Even students of Bachelor of Arts degrees have to do calculus in USA these days.

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  21. Crusoe June 2, 2012 at 5:08 AM #

    Ah. MY error, in not clarifying the point, it has been two years since DS left, not since MG came. The intervening year was the time it took to appoint a new CJ and for the legislation to be changed to allow his appoinment.

    So, in terms of Government’s action / inaction on th issue, two years is NOT misleading.

    In terms of CJ’s time to work on issues, a year is a fair time to implement new measures.

    Like

  22. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 5:26 AM #

    @Nicholls

    I dont normally read your entire artcles, but i read this one.

    The internationalisation of UWI will have greatr appeal for fx students who must pay the full cost for their education. Therefore I have no prblem with his expanding the intake as long the cost is not met by governement and the campus earn enough money from fx students to merit this eexpansion. I am told that there are a number of international students clamouring to enter UWI’s medical prgamme. Again this an opportunity for greater fx earning. Educationa tourism is a nich that should be exploited and that is being done.

    Next professors/lecturers at UWI are supposed to reduce research for publication. Thats why they go on sabatical as well.

    The MOE has placed restiction on the lenght of time students will receive funnding for the compaltion of their degrees.

    UWI has receiveg grant funding over the years for its expansion.

    Alexandra is not incompetent. a school can not be imcompetent.

    I am happy that u recognize that constituency coucils can be useful entities. In this regard, u must advise the party u favour to nominate persons to sit on the said councils.

    Aprt from the above, i support some of your views expoused. I would have you to advise goverenment to limit the number of natioan and development scholarships to area of need and ensure that scholarship winners return home to fullfill the obligation or be rquired to pay abck the state the cost of their education with interest.

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  23. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 5:32 AM #

    @crusoe

    A year? stop being bias. Do u understanf the concept of implementing change. You have to get buy in from the stakeholders before u introduce radical change. Come on man. Be real.

    I like how you tried to escape the trap u laid for yor self.

    Like

  24. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 5:49 AM #

    @JRB

    Students in USA are required to do a foundation courses which include US history. I know persons who gratuated from American universities who could not complete education here. Therefore your point about the GPA of four i dont comprehend. I have a niece who passed for one of the newer secondary schools and missed first class by 2 points. She was offfered a scolarship at the said UWI and she was outanding that it was upgraded to a Doctorate. Again Your point is? again her sister passed for Princess Margaret and she is at UWI. I know that she will not be oustanding because i have recognized her limitations, but we will ensure that she graduates. She wants to do Psychology how would calculus help her. By the way, Caribbean Civilization is useful and i have no problem if one of the subject area is cricket. That what civilization is about, our cultural heritage. When I studied DOC, I had to do the Egyptian’s contribution to Agriculture. Students must be well rounded.

    I have no problem of UWI intorducing first year calculus to students of all faculty, but would students have to use the calculus in their jobs. If u emphasise that something like business math i can support you there.

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  25. Outside June 2, 2012 at 8:43 AM #

    Blogger2012 | June 1, 2012 at 9:47 PM |
    @Caswell

    (what debaitng skills owen has that Chris Sinckler and Donville and Davis Eswick dont have.)

    As a one time member of Combermere’s debating society skilled debaters are a relevant topic the best on the government side are Fruendel, Chris, Donville, pitbull Estwick and Jones on Blp side Mia and Owen if he’s able to make it to the House. Eastmond and Marshall are triers no true skill like the DLP top four. Duguid misleads the House in true fact he’s a clown .

    Like

  26. newbie June 2, 2012 at 8:58 AM #

    @ JRB

    While you make some good points about UWI wasting time on foundation courses (I agree with you here), the bad attitudes of some the students, and the need to improve standards, but you need to be careful not to dismiss humanities as a lesser discipline.
    I was a student of UWI , though not at Cave Hill; at St Augustine. The acceptance criteria is(was?) much higher as you required good A-level passes to enter eingineering.
    Later on as a business person,I’ve realized the limitations of a solely technical background in my environment as; finance, accounting, psychology, economics along with technical expertise are vital for my organization to function. Even if you operate as a consultant in your discipline you will still need to communicate with financial people – who speak in $$$, directors/bosses – who need you to be succinct, non-technical workers who need layman’s language and for all 3 an understanding of culture.This is where skills in the humanities are needed. Frankly, I would be lost half the time without my HR.

    You seem like a passionate young person, and good on you for that, but don’t start thinking X subject I better/easier than Y subject.
    Languages, history or literature never held my interest but all three subjects require reasoning, analysis and logic just as math does. Don’t knock them. If UWI does not give these subjects the respect they deserve, that is very unfortunate.
    In life your ability to reason and communicate that will be two of your most valuable skills. Another one will be you ability to get on with other people and that is true for both working for an organization or being an entrepreneur. Those students who are up there ‘having a good time’ are forming relationships that will carry them through life. If you leave UWI without a good network of friends you have wasted a golden opportunity. University life is not just about school work, involves learning how to work in teams, dealing with difficult people, mixing with and relating to people from different backgrounds.This experience you first get at university and you have 3 years (at least) to learn and mature before you hit the workforce where the decisions you make really matter.

    I can’t speak for Hilliary’s grand building ambitions (I don’t know the guy personally) or the faults at Cave Hill but I’d certainly agree with him that education is an investment. This should not however limit vocational training, or BCC programmes. Bajans should also be encouraged go to the others campuses in the region.

    I absolutely agree with you and the author on is foundational studies being taught at UWI. That should be eliminated by a higher entrance criteria at UWI, let them focus on tertiary education. Secondary education needs to be fixed in the schools, they should consider keeping children back if they don’t pass at least basic math & english or expand the availability of remedial adult education programmes, including online courses.

    Like

  27. robert ross June 2, 2012 at 10:44 AM #

    How many Humanities/Social Science graduates from UWI in recent years have jobs which reflect their supposed educational achievement?

    Like

  28. JRB June 2, 2012 at 11:05 AM #

    “I have no problem of UWI intorducing first year calculus to students of all faculty, but would students have to use the calculus in their jobs. If u emphasise that something like business math i can support you there.”
    That is how it is in America; Calculus is required because mathematics requires a way of logical thinking that some other areas do not. The answer is right there you just have to work it out rather than get by with just memory and that ability to manipulate things is an important skill.
    “but would students have to use the calculus in their jobs”
    Do students use Caribbean Civilization in their jobs, you are contradicting yourself.
    “Therefore your point about the GPA of four i dont comprehend”
    My point is it is easier to maintain a 4. GPA in certain majors than others. I can testify for how easy some of those courses are because I sit in the back of lecturers in my spare time, rather than go home and return, between classes. Some of them are just basic common sense and inserting material into excel spread sheets for example. Not all courses are like this and some tend to be fairly technical but you don’t really get many courses that easy in my faculty, MY GPA is 3.86 right now btw so I haven’t been washed off and angry.
    “By the way, Caribbean Civilization is useful and i have no problem if one of the subject area is cricket. That what civilization is about, our cultural heritage.”
    I have done that course and got an A- while not even focussing on it. I can tell you it is a waste of time not from just word of mouth but experience. Plus I have never used any of that information from that course, or CXC history or CAPE Caribbean studies in any useful way because there is none aside from talking about racism or how bad Cricket has declined, Caribbean studies and Caribbean civilization were just the courses you were forced to do and I did CXC history because I was getting good grades in it and need another subject to make 8.
    “but you need to be careful not to dismiss humanities as a lesser discipline.”
    I’m not, but you still need to recognise a lot of students do and go for majors with a lot of easy courses. Hence why I said
    “I have nothing against humanities or social sciences and they have their role in society but I certainly haven’t heard of this.”
    A lot of these disciplines are very useful and I’m not saying the sciences are better than them. Just that if certain folks had the prerequisites for both something along the lines of gender studies and physics, quite a few might go for GS and that number gets larger after individuals get hurt in first year science courses and transfer, (50%+ failure rates anyone)? The only courses I have ever really heard my social science friends say they are afraid of or that it is so hard is statistics, which is mathematics. In that case they would never be able to do things like earth sciences or chemistry because a lot of hard mathematics is used than that.

    Like

  29. Bush Tea June 2, 2012 at 11:41 AM #

    @ David

    How many years ago did we deal with Sir Hilary and UWI?
    …there is indeed nothing new under the sun…

    Like

  30. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 11:54 AM #

    @JRD

    I ont have to click on those link, I am daling with what u have written initially and your response to me, so u should engage me in discourse on what u have written and my response.

    Like

  31. David June 2, 2012 at 11:56 AM #

    Indeed Bushie, for those interested in reading past BU submissions about UWI Sir Hilary, education –  enter the relevant search terms and many many hits will drop down. For those too lazy to do same here are a few:

    THE UWI Financing DEBATE

    UWI Debate

    Another Meaningless Education Report From NACE

    Sir Hilary, Are You Listening?

    A UWI Student Offers A Comment On The Vision Of Professor Hilary Beckles For The University Of The West Indies

    The Basic Problem With Barbados

    UWI Expansion Plans Misguided~Need To First Address Relevance.

    Like

  32. JRB June 2, 2012 at 12:15 PM #

    “I ont have to click on those link, I am daling with what u have written initially and your response to me, so u should engage me in discourse on what u have written and my response.”

    Some major argument you have there. I am using evidence to back up my point and as a past university graduate you should appreciate that, as an argument goes no where without facts to back it up. As I said social sciences and humanities are important, and I don’t think science is better than them, but a lot of people do them because many of the courses are easier. It is in report format and very detailed but if you want me to cite a few lines if clicking a mouse burns too much kilocalories then ok;

    Taken from: http://spectator.org/blog/2011/11/14/why-the-sciences-havent-seen-g

    “Following up on a number of high-profile newspaper pieces on the relative decline of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students in U.S. universities, Timothy Taylor explains that grade inflation might have a lot to do with the mass migration to the humanities and other “soft” subjects. Basically, students like good grades, and STEM departments have driven many students away with low average grades. Taylor looks through the academic research on the subject, and digs up an estimate that “if the English department adopted the Math grade distribution, there would be a decline of 47 percent in the number of students taking one or more courses beyond the introductory course in English.””

    Taken from: http://www.gradeinflation.com/tcr2010grading.pdf

    “Examination of grading patterns as a function of major discipline area indicates that while grades tend to be lower across
    the board for science and engineering schools, part of the reason that students in these schools have relatively low grades
    is due simply to the fact that they take relatively more science courses. Nationally for all colleges and universities, science departments grade on average roughly 0.4 lower on a 4.0 scale than humanities departments and 0.2 lower than social science departments”

    “The overall low grades in science departments at most schools and relatively low grades in science and engineering schools translate into disincentives for students to enroll in science and engineering at an undergraduate level or pursue graduate study (Sabot and Wakeman-Linn, 1991; Johnson, 2003). They also put science students at a disadvantage for receiving academic honors at most schools.”

    This was more of a reply to newbie anyway but I also included you as it relates to my GPA point which you said you did not comprehend.

    Like

  33. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 12:38 PM #

    @JRD
    I expected you bias response. Let me to you as follows.

    The same wasy u admire the American approach to having Calculus as mandatory you should appreciate the nee for caribbean CIvilization. To understand the present you must understand and appriate the past and be socialised to our culture, the Same way the American soicialse its citizens to the American way of thinking. By the way, u will more have to respond to questions on the current and past structure of our civilzation that have to engage in any discussion in calculus. Check the discuiion relating to the Richard Goddara article to see the relevance of understanding things like plantation society.

    application to stuides will determine the grade you get in the final analyis. Therefore your talking about Social Science is easy as opposed to Natural Science is bare bull. I passed Development of Civilization in a weekend. Let me tell you how I id it, i was working and carrying a course load of 3 subjects and there was no semeter system. I ha dropped out the class and a study buddy insist that i write the examination. We decided to reasrch three differnt areas and the we got togehter and discussed our findingsing. He got a Bplus.

    are you saying that there is no way of measuing performance in the different faculties. By the way when i was at UWI, Inductive and euctive argument was the order of the ay, and a lot of Natural science student have dificulting in understaning the concept, and with use of Englis as a whole.

    I know u r a young person, but experience is the wisest teacher. I will give you another example, there was this guy who i met at work, he could not pass English and I insisted that contiunes until he passes it, giving him assitance where necessary and today he completea a Master with distinction from the same UWI. By the way when i was there and i studied into to socialogy, the lecturer warned the students that the course was not a reading course, byt an analytical course of the structure of Caribbean Society. you kno what, over 30% used to fail that course during my sojourn there.

    I will conclude by saying, that the study of Caribbean Society is relevant to every ay living, but not calculus. Again, AS STATED previously, Business mathematicwill be more relavant to every day living.

    I rest my case by saying no degree is easire than the other, and persons chose the one to suit thier strenght, not their weaknesses. I gone.

    Like

  34. JRB June 2, 2012 at 1:06 PM #

    Blogger2012, I can see you have not read any of the literature I posted. These are research articles and reports based on facts, I told you what I know from being at UWI, sitting in on such courses and knowing people in such courses, based on facts. I would present the same reports for UWI but alas no one does such research to make it official. Kinda like alot of other things we have missing here like proper environmental policies.

    “I will give you another example, there was this guy who i met at work, he could not pass English and I insisted that contiunes until he passes it, giving him assitance where necessary and today he completea a Master with distinction from the same UWI.”

    What does this have to do with anything I said. Plus I’m am not a grammar Nazi, and I am certainly not perfect when it comes to English, but it is funny that you insisted he pass English and yours has been terrible thus far. There is a spell checker for a reason.

    “I expected you bias response”

    Explain the bias. I repeatedly said it think the two disciplines are important.

    ” will conclude by saying, that the study of Caribbean Society is relevant to every ay living,”

    How? I did those courses and passed easily and say then bring nothing. It is not that I have to do them and am raging because of it but I have already completed them.

    “I passed Development of Civilization in a weekend.”

    This further emphases my point and does nothing to aid your argument.

    “the lecturer warned the students that the course was not a reading course, byt an analytical course”

    Only social sciences and humanities have analytical courses I presume. If there is any bias here it is. None of the courses I have done so far are read and recall, do that and congratulations, you have failed. Maybe you should head up to UWI and have a first hand modern experience.

    “Therefore your talking about Social Science is easy as opposed to Natural Science is bare bull.”

    Use your so called analytical skills and read this over and then read over all my posts.

    Like

  35. David June 2, 2012 at 1:38 PM #

    Sir Hilary would want this link to be posted:

    http://www.cavehill.uwi.edu/news/releases/release.asp?id=374

    Like

  36. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 2:29 PM #

    figure that out, yo janyn come latley, telling me about english and your logice is pathetic.

    Like

  37. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 2:38 PM #

    @JRD

    your analyis is warp, by the way, i dont have to concentrate on correctness of spelling, as my name is not to the blog. People like you want to condemn faculties to boost your ego that u r bright because u r doing the naturl scinces

    When I have to write professioally, i pay attention to detail. Yo dont want to appreciate what we have, who you think you are to tell UWI which first year courses shhould or should not be compuilsory. Go play with your self and enjoy it and massage your ego that u r pursuing a hard programme, whereas the others are easy.

    R u envious of those person who gave a 4 grade point average. If u were bright like them u would have had a grade point average similAR TO THEIRS.

    Like

  38. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 2:47 PM #

    @dAVID
    Thanks for posting the link, it confirms what I had written, that the internationalisation of Cave Hill could be a foreign exchange earner for the country generally, and particularly for the coffers of uwi.

    Like

  39. JRB June 2, 2012 at 3:13 PM #

    “People like you want to condemn faculties”

    From my previous posts;
    “Explain the bias. I repeatedly said it think the two disciplines are important.”
    “As I said social sciences and humanities are important, and I don’t think science is better than them”
    “I have nothing against humanities or social sciences and they have their role in society”
    “A lot of these disciplines are very useful and I’m not saying the sciences are better than them.”

    Come again?

    “to boost your ego that u r bright because u r doing the naturl scinces”
    Never once did I indicate that I am bright because I am doing natural sciences. Nothing in my previous posts relates to that accusation. I know that there are individuals in other faculties that are more clever than me at what they do as much as I know there are some daft individuals in my faculty who are just wasting time. Just because one is studying a particular area does not magically boost his brain power.

    “Go play with your self and enjoy it and massage your ego that u r pursuing a hard programme, whereas the others are easy.”

    Nice to know you have to resort to cursing when you have nothing else to go on. How exactly am I massaging my ego? You don’t even know what programme I am doing and I suppose grade inflation is just a fairy tale just like the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy right? I think especially the “Go play with your self and enjoy it” part shows a lack of a certain level of maturity one would expect from a wise adult in a discussion.

    You even contradict yourself by the “I passed Development of Civilization in a weekend”. A normal course load these days is 4 courses which include aspects like practicals/research projects and tutorials. If you can drop out of a course and come back to pass it in only weekend what sort of difficulty do you think that is and how much knowledge are you taking out of that course. One of my friends told me about a few of the courses he did that you basically only needed to go for the first two weeks and that was enough to pass. The finally exam always came on set topics with a question from each topic covered per week. However, with that sort of easy pass how much are you really learning?

    Like

  40. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 3:52 PM #

    @JRD

    you seem not to understand the facts of life. There is somethng name spotting in exaimination. You look as past examination papers over time and you can predict with some accuracy which area will come on the examination paper and in that case you hit or miss..

    I just dont care which faculty u r registered in, you have to be logical instead of talkin bull l that the other areas are easier thant the Natural sciiences. People like you need to understand this massaging of ego or disciplines over the other does not auger well for Barbados’ development, If you have an ego problem as far as the discipline is concerned thats your problem. I have seen graduate from the Natural sciences that who can’t even construct a proper sentence or develop a logical agruments because of their warp thinking like you who want to determine what UWI should insist on for foundation courses. i have also seem some who passes the test.

    The fact that I could pass the course in a weekend should tell you something of my mental faculty of retaining and anyalysing the information, and that was over twenty eight years ago and can still remeber the information.

    I wish you luck with your studies and you will recognize that when you go into the work place that you would have to able to present your facts in a coherent manner, ieven if you are working in the area of the Natural sciences,

    You have a pleasent weekend and continue to massage your ego that the faculty of Natural Sciences attract the brightest, whereas, the other faculties programmes are easier to pass.

    God Bless you in your mission in dictating to UWI.

    Like

  41. Sargeant June 2, 2012 at 3:53 PM #

    I want to agree with Austin and am sympathetic to much of his opinion but when he starts out damning EWB with faint praise he got my dander up. EWB revolutionized Education in Barbados if his successors dropped the ball the fault lays elsewhere. There are a few who want to belittle his contribution to insignificance but try as they might it will be a losing battle.

    What “abundance” of scholarships prior to EWB? Granted, the offspring of a few “poor” people got through the gates but if one examines the social class if those who attended certain schools back in the day they would discover that by and large they came from a certain strata of society. EWB although a part of that strata worked to ensure that the sons and daughters of field workers, masons, carpenters, joiners, lightermen, servants (1950’s term) gardeners etc. would be able to join the sons and daughters of the professional class, civil servants and other white collar workers. Austin should speak with some older folk who attended elementary school to Class 7 and ask them about this “overabundance” of scholarships.

    Back to the substantive issue, Sir Hilary’s Everest is the attainment of at least one graduate in each Bajan household and if the establishment of satellite campuses places him further up the ascent to that goal more power to him, it is up to the Gov’t to let him know that the piggy bank is exhausted.

    Barrow’s heirs have not built on his legacy, they have held the line, citizens still get an education but there has been little in the way of innovation after he laid the foundation. We still have the 11 plus and the education system is still geared to pump out so many white collar workers (an inheritance from the Colonial masters) but the bar has not been raised. Early in this Gov’t tenure the Education Minister dared to speak about abolishing the 11 plus and he was shouted down for his temerity. People are of the mindset that “if it aint broke don’t fix it” but “black bird would cut teet” before some Bajans would accept this kind of change.

    Lastly amidst all Austin’s suggestions I didn’t see any ideas as to how they would be paid for. The cost of Education is going to be one of the major issues facing Barbados but none of the political parties have made any attempt to address this, if they don’t do it now they will be forced to do so at the behest of an outside agency in the future. Bajans will find out that they can’t continue to milk the cow without feeding it.

    Like

  42. JRB June 2, 2012 at 4:28 PM #

    “you seem not to understand the facts of life. There is somethng name spotting in exaimination. You look as past examination papers over time and you can predict with some accuracy which area will come on the examination paper and in that case you hit or miss.”

    “One of my friends told me about a few of the courses he did that you basically only needed to go for the first two weeks and that was enough to pass. The finally exam always came on set topics with a question from each topic covered per week. However, with that sort of easy pass how much are you really learning?”

    He only went to the first two weeks, He learnt nothing after that. He passed with an A. He did not go to all the classes, obtain all the knowledge and then predict what was coming on the exam. University should be a place of quality in that if one does a course, one should be able show he knows material across the whole syllabus and not just the first two weeks before drinking time. There is something called reading comprehension.

    “I just dont care which faculty u r registered in, you have to be logical instead of talkin bull l that the other areas are easier thant the Natural sciiences. People like you need to understand this massaging of ego or disciplines over the other does not auger well for Barbados’ development, If you have an ego problem as far as the discipline is concerned thats your problem. “

    See my posts again, and I really do not know where you get this ego nonsense from. You keep escaping the fact that I said humanities and social sciences are important and that has nothing to do with the point I am making. Grade inflation is not associated with importance of subject. Current gets inflated yet we still use it every day. When you get it in your head that I am not dissing your faculty and I don’t think any faculty is above the other maybe you can back track and see my original point. I think newbie saw my point.

    “The fact that I could pass the course in a weekend should tell you something of my mental faculty of retaining and anyalysing the information, and that was over twenty eight years ago and can still remeber the information.”

    It tells me that you are encouraging the slackers who cram last minute who can be found in all faculties. If you had tried that ridiculousness with certain other courses, even in that same faculty today, you would be crying a different story. And a course should not be coverable in one weekend. In that cause having a term for it is a waste of money and resources.

    “I wish you luck with your studies and you will recognize that when you go into the work place that you would have to able to present your facts in a coherent manner, ieven if you are working in the area of the Natural sciences,”

    You don’t have to be a certain major to be able to get information across. I had no trouble with it so far.

    “God Bless you in your mission in dictating to UWI.”

    “In my opinion” is not dictating. True, overseas studies have out of faculty electives that students choose. However that is not what I was talking about. I was talking about foundation courses tailored to the needs to every faculty; the current FOUNDATION courses give FOUNDATION to very few majors. If you have a dictionary, try looking up the word foundation. Plus UWI has a strategic plan in which anyone is free to give suggestions, if giving suggestions is considered dictatorship I do not know what alternate world you live in. Maybe you should look up dictating while you have that dictionary.

    Like

  43. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 6:45 PM #

    @JRD

    for your sake look up dictating and look up dictatorship, because u r the one who introduced the word dictatorship ship into the iscourse. Again concentrate on pursuing you ego trip, but when all is said and done people like you must study those foundation courses to let you know that you must creep before you can walk. that is to say we have to instill the value of our civlization on people like you,else you wont have a clue and an appreciation for the structures of our society during slavery and after.

    Like

  44. robert ross June 2, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

    @ Blogger

    Why don’t you lay off. For one thing your UWI experience is 28 years old, I think you said. For another, the idea of a younger person not being able to criticize his academic environment, or anything else, is utterly ludicrous. They are ‘trained’ – err – to be critical; and if not when they are young, well when? For myself, I think it’s great to be hearing from someone who is on the inside and whose experience is direct and immediate.He has put forward a view – you do seem to be distorting what he said..You do not have to worry about the Island’s ‘history’. It is pushed at them – or a version of it – long before they reach UWI. Beckles ‘History’ , so-called, is standard fare in the secondary schools.

    Like

  45. David June 2, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

    Is it unreasonable that commenters who all admit to have benefited from tertiary education would find difficulty punishing onlookers with dispassionate exchanges?

    Like

  46. robert ross June 2, 2012 at 8:10 PM #

    @ David

    As I keep saying…I’m an expert in induction and deduction – err- what are you saying?

    Do you mean:

    ‘Don’t be surprised that know- all’s like to show off at the expense of others?’

    Like

  47. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 9:08 PM #

    @ROBERT ROSS

    what do i expect from you nothing. I dont think you have whar I have sias, but then u cna’t score cheap points with me. So go come again.RR you are a glutton for punishment. Ha Ha Ha.

    Like

  48. Blogger2012 June 2, 2012 at 9:19 PM #

    @RR

    Again i studies under the old system and the new one. So figure it out. I know you are like a fish out of water, but AC will deal with you. By the way why would someone want to dictate what foundaton courses should or shoul not be done, you either do them or go some where else.
    Why should i allow somoneone to claim that is easire in the oher dicipline to pass or get better grade than in the Natuarl Sciences. As I said to you over and over. I dont back down from a position if i think i am right.

    Further, every Barbadain is entitled to free tertiary eduacation, and I have no regret doing so. I jhave paid enought taxes over my working years to cover the cost of my education. You can brig it on, as I have never seen you being successful in any debate on here.

    Like

  49. robert ross June 2, 2012 at 11:27 PM #

    AWWWW……

    so sad

    Like

  50. Observing June 2, 2012 at 11:41 PM #

    exchanges seem kinda passionate here David.
    dispassionate may have been a misplaced adjective

    Like

  51. robert ross June 2, 2012 at 11:52 PM #

    There are a number of ‘misplaced’ things in D’s reponse.

    Like

  52. robert ross June 3, 2012 at 12:34 AM #

    @ Sarjeant

    And on Hilary’s “Everest”. Isn’t that Hilary?

    Like

  53. newbie June 3, 2012 at 8:00 AM #

    @JRD

    I understand the point you are trying to get across about the perception difficulty or ease of a subject driving the decisions of students. And I agree with you, that is a logical conclusion. But where we differ is you seem to think this is a problem while I do not.
    Universities are different from schools, students are not required to be there and they can choose the subjects they study. Often (not in our case) they also have to pay for the privilege and there is a cost to them in losing out on salaried work while they are studying with no guarantee they will get a job at the end of their time.
    In a situation like that the university is only going to respond to their demands by providing the education they seek. What else can the university logically do? It is not up to them to dictate what the student studies only to make sure the quality of their education is sound. In fact, the university would likely be encouraged to expand and diversify courses in the humanities if they perceive students have the highest demand in this area. If the natural result of that process is that there are fewer science and engineering graduates then something would need to be done to influence students to take these subjects. But, I think this needs to happen outside of the university.
    First of all, why do you need more science and engineering graduates? Is there a shortage in the workforce? If that is the case, the salaries offered due to the scarcity of the qualification so should help provide the incentive. This works well with medicine, which is perceived to be very difficult but usually has no trouble recruiting candidates, in fact there is often fierce competition.
    Do the students who graduate with humanities degrees have difficulty finding work that satisfies their financial needs?If not then there is no issue.
    If government wants to develop an industry locally which requires a supply scientists, they need to come up with a strategy (with the universities help) to incentivize students to enroll in those courses.

    If the student does not see the value in investing a science degree they simply won’t do it. That is just human nature.

    Like

  54. newbie June 3, 2012 at 8:02 AM #

    Sorry that should have been @JRB

    Like

  55. David June 3, 2012 at 8:22 AM #

    Here are two comments posted on another blog by UWI students.

    Anonymous has left a new comment on the post “Lawsuit for UWI“: The University of the West Indies continues treat its students unfairly. The universities only concern is making money.
    Some UWI lecturers have problems understanding the material they themselves are teaching. In a particular course which I took at the university, the lecturer would stand in front the class teaching from material that looked like scrap. Answers that this lecturer submitted online as model solutions to assignments also looked like scrap to be tossed into a bin.
    Some lecturers at the university fail students because the claim that too many students are passing the level one courses and therefore the second and third year classes are too large. First year courses in the math department, for example, have been restructured so that more students would fail.
    Many students are told that summer school is the means by which the university makes most of its money. For some courses the failure rate exceeds 74% and as a result studeents are required to retake these courses numerous time.
    Success at the university is not based on how intelligent a student is, it is rather based on whether or not the students takes a course in a semester when the pass rate is high, or on luck.I know all of this sound silly, but only students who have been there or are there now can tell you. If you ar lucky enough you would hear lecturers saying the same things, or how many students they are going to pass in a particular semester.For the students at the university, especially cavehill campus, freedom of speech is a myth. Speaking out means failing. Until all the students realised that they have the power in their hands, many who have worked hard and passed would continue to see failing grades on their transcripts.There is so much more to be said about the unethical behaviour of the university, but time does not permit.* I am in no way saying that students do not deliberately flunk courses and deserve that failing grades given to them.
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    Posted by Anonymous to And Still I Rise at 10:02 PM
    12:11 (8 minutes ago)

    Anonymous has left a new comment on the post “Lawsuit for UWI“:
    Despite the fact that only ID numbers are written on exams scripts, lecturers know whose paper they are marking. Throughout the semester student submitted materials with both the names and ID numbers. I’ve had one lecturer go as far as to compare hand writings.

    Like

  56. robert ross June 3, 2012 at 9:32 AM #

    I think we have to be very cautious with some of this. Failure rates are usually linked to input. Sudents who don’t work tend to fail. Many believe that success at ‘A’ level – on minimum work – is a guarantee of success later with the same level of effort. As a consequence many cross-Faculty students fail.They not only bring that mindset with them but also the work ethos of their ‘home’ Faculty.

    There is NO GOOD REASON why a student should put both name and ID number on an essay. They should be told it is not necesary – on the ground that the lecturer is marking the essay of a person NOT a number. Some students persist in doing this – presumably to gain some adantage as they suppose.

    Of course if a tutorial pupil submits a number of essays during a semester his hand writing will become familiar – especially if his writing style is odd. Dyslexia, eg, might be diagnosed from it. Again, if the tutor tries to get students to structure a problem question in a certain way, come exam time he will probably know that this or that person has been his pupil IF the exam essay is structured in that way.

    It is always possible to find a student’s ID number from computer records to which a lecturer has access just as it is possible, eg, to find his home address.

    It is a common thing to find students rooted in a mindset which says ‘If I speak out, or rock the boat’ I will fail’ I don’t know where they get that from and though I could not say it never happens, I simply do not believe it happens. For one thing, there are second examiners; for another there is opportunity for a remark. There are also staff-student committees to which complaints may be brought. Students are not generally slow in making complaints about lecturers anyway,

    In some Faculties there has been mounting concern that students are only studying a small part of the course for exam purposes and getting away with it. As a consequence lecturers are now tending to set ‘mixed’ questions and using the device of the divided paper where a student must answer X number of questions from each part, When this happens, the student gets a shock and then says that examiners set out to fail them. If anything, in recent years the emphasis has been that examiners should be MORE rather than LESS generous with their marking. Of course, older, more experienced examiners tent to go ‘soft’; while the younger less-experienced ones tend to be tough – I suppose because they have ego-validation problems.

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  57. JRB June 3, 2012 at 11:29 AM #

    @ Newbie

    “I understand the point you are trying to get across about the perception difficulty or ease of a subject driving the decisions of students. And I agree with you, that is a logical conclusion. But where we differ is you seem to think this is a problem while I do not.”

    Thank you for understanding my point. And it’s a pity its gone so off topic. Yes I know about supply and demand and freedom of choice but I was referring to friends who were originally in my faculty in my first post, and how they switched after the first year to prevent more failure and a RTW, as a point to boost that maybe proper foundation courses may have helped them. I even saw the same situation this year, E.G. students in my department rebuke things like calculation questions in which the answer is right there and go for the short essay type questions in which the answer can be subjective and it is easier to lose marks. That is why a few of my lecturers were chatting about foundation courses like scientific research & presentation and mathematics which would greatly help the students in this faculty but that those higher up are resistant to change. Some lecturers try to go over this material in tutorial time but that amount of time is limited and if they do, they lose time to talk about the actually course. Also students only tend to contact or visit lecturers when some assignment is due a few days away and I had a lecturer who would literary grumble about that fact and that no one actually came for course help. I was just saying that as a way to improve tertiary education, foundation courses that actually offer foundation can be offered.

    I agree with your earlier post. If a person got a Grade 1 or 2 in Caribbean studies and Communication studies, which is compulsory for a CAPE associate degree anyway, the current “foundation” courses should be exempted as they basically cover the same material again. The government is bringing up more 6th form schools so why not put them to use. For those that didn’t get that grade 1 or 2, (CAPE grades from 1 – 7) have an entry exam like how they have for English currently. If necessary make a few adjustments to the syllabus to make certain people happy.

    @ robert ross

    “First year courses in the math department, for example, have been restructured so that more students would fail.”

    First year courses in any department have the highest failure rates as students get accustomed to university life and the input required compared to CXC and CAPE. In my faculty the failure rates are typically over 50% at first year but that varies by course. In my first year I got 4As, 1B and 3 Cs and I was like “WTF. I got accustomed to how the work is marked and what is expected by the beginning of my second year though, and I always email lecturers when I have questions, which I prefer to visiting in person as it is easier and I still get the hibigeebies around a few of them. I think if you can make it through the first year you have the potential to stick around for the last 3 or 4. A lot of the CAPE incomers I see get washed off easily because they stick with the finish work one hour before due time mentality. Some people can do this and some people can’t and it is very risky.

    “Some lecturers at the university fail students because the claim that too many students are passing the level one courses and therefore the second and third year classes are too large.”

    “If you ar lucky enough you would hear lecturers saying the same things, or how many students they are going to pass in a particular semester.”

    This should be investigated by individuals independent of the university. Although it may or may not be wrong, no chances that behaviour like this exists should be allowed even you believe it or not. UWI uses external examiners but that is usually for the final exam only, they can’t help you if you fail the coursework and coursework is usually marked by lecturers and their assistants. It may be based on prediction as you said but better safe than sorry.

    “Students are not generally slow in making complaints about lecturers anyway”

    From what I have seen from my courses this usually only happens when the course evaluation people come around for most folks… well official complaints anyway. There is always talk that never goes anywhere.

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  58. robert ross June 3, 2012 at 11:48 AM #

    @ JRB

    Yes, you are right to say that standards improve over time when what is expected is understood. It is sometimes called ‘exit velocity’.

    On complaints – the semester evaluations are anonymous but they do create a perception about a lecturer and do, indeed, form part of his profile for promotion purposes. The problem is that they are all too often used to damn a lecturer who, for whatever reason, is personally disliked. – and there is, in any event, no mechanism for a lecturer to answer whatever is said. Students are not usually slow to get their grievances into the system – and not only in the ways I have indicated. On talk – it really depends on who’s prepared to listen – and some revel in it if it suits their purpose.

    External examiners are of little value in the short term – to address startling anomolies. He only receives a cross-section of scripts months after the exam when it is all too late to rectify marks.

    For myself, I find it unbelievable that a lecturer could possibly say before an exam how many he will pass. If there are such people, it is worthy of a campus riot.

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  59. JRB June 3, 2012 at 12:08 PM #

    “it is worthy of a campus riot.”

    I don’t think people fancy rioting anymore. There is alot of talk about various things but no one really goes far as to start action. Look at the situation with politics, we speak a lot on these blogs and have very little follow up. In any case I personally never heard of lecturers saying things like this but I have been in a level 3 course that only had one other student.

    I keep a word document in which I tabulate the courses I have done and have to do. I create time tables I expect to have in upcoming semesters by looking at the time slots the courses I plan to do were set in previous years and I keep a table of assignments and due dates. The first thing I do after registration is create a table based on the syllabus on how the courses are broken down, E.G. 50% Finals, 25% practicals & 25% in course theory. Then I talk to the lecturers to find out how even these are broken down, so for example the in course theory may be 10% midterm, 10% project and 5% assignments, and the marking scheme. When I get my marks back from the various work I put them in and before exams start I tally them up so I can see what I need to get in a exam to get a certain final grade, (and if it is feasible). Therefore I never get surprised much when my marks are released or at least for the coursework portion, the finals can be tricky to predict.

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  60. David June 3, 2012 at 12:30 PM #

    @JEB

    With respect, serious blogging started around 2007-2008. Don’t lay blame unjustly.

    Like

  61. JRB June 3, 2012 at 12:44 PM #

    I was not laying blame on anyone and apologise if it came across that way.

    Like

  62. David June 3, 2012 at 1:05 PM #

    @JRB

    No need to be defensive, simply a clarification to your point:

    Look at the situation with politics, we speak a lot on these blogs and have very little follow up.

    Blogs have come a long way, they are now being mentioned in our Parliament by our finest. Traditional media next although they steal many of our discussion points 🙂

    Like

  63. Blogger2012 June 3, 2012 at 1:44 PM #

    @David

    For every question, essay, multichoice et al, there is a key and therefore it is hard for the script marker to fail a student. From what I understand, the second marker will review those borderline cases where a student marginally failed, in addition to a sample of those who failed miserable or thiose who got high grades. There are built mechanism to protect the integrity of the system. I can cite an example, a friend of mine was passing with all A’s and in one of his examination he got a Bplus, he appealed his grade and subsequentl passedhis Masters with a distinction. In Barbados people are not prepared to challenges things if they believe there is a problem, but want somebody to bell the cat for them.

    I will admit that there are some lecturers who dont like students to ask questions during a lecture, and on refelction I can see why. The lecturer must complete the lecture in the allocate time, and if this is not done it i subsequently impacts on the other lecturers time.

    When I was there, lecturers will always tell you if there is any things you dont understand it can be resolved during the tutorial. From my experience, a lot of students never usesd to prepare the presentations, bacause they were not mandatory and hence they had diffiiculty with the suject area as they id not size the opportunity to be guided. On reflection, I can empathise with some of them, as we all were working students and some of them had families and were not getting the support form their husbands/wives spouses wiith the domestice duties.

    Students often find excuses when they fail an examination, like the lecturer dont like them, but dont want to admit that they did not cover the entire syllabus and try to spot what they think would come on the paper, when that does not happen they are in ducks guts. On many occasion I saw students walked out of the exmaination room without attempting to answer the questions. Some use the technique of going to a doctor and obtaining sick leave for the submission of a medical if they thought that they were not ready for the examination.

    Students should use the foundation courses to assess the standards they must meet. During my sojourn there, the first year courses were never part of the GPA. So this should allow students to aclcimatise to their new environment, Students from high school migt have diffifulty in moving from the teaching enviroment to the leturing environment and thus some react negatively to such, as they now have to work on their own, As with those sixth form schools, the push it towards the scholarship and therefore teachers will spoon feed the students.

    Life at UWI is completely different and it is every turkey for his craw,
    If a student recognizes in the first year that the major he /she origninally registered to pursue is not what he expected that person should make the switch instead of languising in a faculty. I want to cite and example, one of the students from my discipline had done very well in all the courses except one which she hust could not pass. That course was Sociogical Theory or the Theory of Socilogy and she was given the opportunity to pursue another course which she passed with consumate ease. There are times when students fail a course it affects them psycholgically and they subsequently tell themselves that the course is hard rather than making the required adjustment in approach to studying for the course,

    Lastly i want to say, I had a running with Dr, Farley Brathwaithe when I challenged him during a lecture in Survey Methods of Social Investigation course. There was a hush in the room as students though that i had committed a cardinal sin in challenging a lecturer. We debaited the issue and you know what, he and I had a wonderful relationship to the point where he would remind students that I had put a claim to a particular chair in the front of the class.

    When we were pursuing the post-graduate in Management Studies, which Professor Reid had intoduced, we initially had a chllenge with him, as we thought he was being insulting to us and as adults we were not preapared to tolerate such behaviour. In a nutshell, we boycotted a class and went straight to the Registrar’s office and made a complaint and subsequently we were treated with dignity and respect,

    Half way during the course, I had a private converstaion with him and saked him why he had beahve the way he did, and he told me that he was not seeing the anlyis coming from us as post-graduate students and that it what he was aiming to achieve. I thought Professor Reid was an excellent lecturer as he would force you think. lecturers can tell when students have prepared for an assignment. I could recall we were assigned a project and the group comprises people I know from work. I ended up doing the project myself and you know wha,t when we had to present the poject, although I would have met with the group to go over the methodoly and the findings they could not answered some of the questions posed to them by Professor Reid, and at the end of the presentaton, he said only one person had done work on the project and asked me if there was involvement by the others, I could not betray them. every one of them failed the examination, and it was not because of spite, else I would have failed as he knew that I was the one who had co-ordianted the protest,but, because they had not participated in the project and the compulsary question which carried i think 40% of the mark, they had diffculty with answering that question, It had related to a project methodlogy, among other things.

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