New Education for Development

Submitted by Looking Glass
UWI, Cave Hilll

UWI, Cave Hilll

Development in any language means change, a break with the past and is people oriented. National Development of which economic development is but a component is personal and qualitative. It depends on our ability to innovate, create and organize and requires an intellectual leap into the future. Resistance to such change is not so much a personal problem but a structural impediment created by the socio-economic system in general and the educational system in particular. In this context our educational system in its current manifestation becomes a repressive developmental factor.

In today’s world the foundation of economic growth and development is the function of human skill not foreign investment. In the world of technology fortunes are made not only in the manufacture off products but by inventing products and processes. Important factors include education and innovation. National development implies the power to create wealth which, in the final analysis depends on our ability to generate new ideas and to turn them into reality.

Here education is crucial. East Asian countries invested huge sums in education designed to facilitate economic growth and industrialisation; their forte product improvement and product creation. The Ivory Coast, a backward country at independence is today a wealthy country. Large sums were invested in education and agriculture rather than industrialisation, and government ensured the implementation and nurturing of programmes needed for development.

The education system as it stands will not supply the range of human resource requirements necessary to support long term development. It generates a supply of souls lacking in versatility, adaptability and entrepreneurial expertise. As such it contributes to the formation of an unproductive/underproductive class of labour, a source of marginalization and a burden to the already strained economy. The prevailing system breeds inefficiency and ineffectiveness which in turn kills innovation and creativity.

I am not suggesting the absence of talent. Potential talent needs to be nurtured and directed. Our Secondary Schools as currently structured promote memorization rather than innovation and creativity. Science should be taught at all such schools along with business, agricultural related subjects and our history.

The Community Colleges and Polytechnics should be reorganized to offer a broader range of technical, para-professional and agricultural related programs like Hydroponics. Each can specialize and share and or utilize the other resources for maximum efficiency.

A Research Centre/Institute to expose students to new ideas and experiment, to innovation, experimentation and to create and generate their ideas, and a BusinessCollege along similar lines. Imagine the consequences of having a university

Graduate (basically lawyers and social scientists) in every household in an economy unable to accommodate them. Some changes are needed at Cave Hill to accommodate the above. How about Agriculture and Hydroponics. Our development must be long term and designed to increase substantially our capacity to create a more desirable life. As such it becomes a challenge to our intellectual ability to generate ideas and putt them into practice.

Barbados was built on sugar. The economy even in the early 19th century was unable to absorb the labour force which continues to grow, especially the “educated.” Over the years many of the hundreds who migrated to North America and the UK supported their family back home now find it more difficult to do. Some no longer do it, and the out-migration door is now largely closed. Land, sea and sun are the only natural resources we have. Teach our kids and adults to use our natural resources especially the land. You can grow tea, coffee and food items some of which can be turned into products like coconut water and milk. Otherwise the population increase will push the country deeper in the hole. Tourism and foreign investment cannot and will not do that for you

0 thoughts on “New Education for Development

  1. Bull!!! We already have all the sructures you propose. Science is taught at all secondary schools. Cave Hill offers courses and degree in all subjects. The BCC and SJPP offer the opportunities for innovation in terms of the skills suggested.Years ago (around 190) I had proposed an innovation competition and there is such a competition every year. There is nothing stopping anyone with an innovative idea from bringing it forward and getting assistnce in developing it through the BIDC. The migrants to the U>K did not go in their hundreds, they went in their thousands and they all went to work. The challenge to your intellectual ability id dependent on your own ability to think. Innovation cannot be “taught” it comes from individual thought. And no invention or innovation cannot be developed to the full potential without money, and the persons with the necessary funding; the entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are all overseas, so don’t knowk the need for foreign investment. Barbados was (and is) far ahead of all these places having placed EDUCATION at the top of its list. It is fre and the opportunity to be anything you want to be is there. If you cn’t go to school during the day there are opportunities after the day ends to study whatever you want to. Check the list of courses offered and advertised daily in the newspapers that are available.

  2. Alvin Cummins…………………….I do understand your passion……but there is a limit to how far an innovative young or even older person is allowed to go in small, narrow minded countries………………….i think the above author was thinking in terms of using your innovative people as one of the main sources of export, not unlike a commodity……….which countries throughout the world, USA, China, India, Germany, England, all do continuously and to their benefit.

    It’s okay to study………..but then what happens if there are only 10 jobs for 1000 candidates with masters degrees on a small island.

    The old way of doing business has changed, the new way of doing business is not currently taught i Bim………………..hence even the government ministers are confused and bouncing around in the dark.

    Ronald Jones would not be able to understand the concept of the brightest and most innovative students being the island’s best resources that should be exported to later benefit the island, his mind cannot expand that far. I personally know of venture capitalists who are offering colleges and universities billions of dollars so that their most innovative students can commence startups………………it’s a different ballgame and playing field out here, with more flexible thinkers in government and the private sectors.

  3. @David,
    It is not enough just to have ideas and be innovative. If you want to know what is involved try and watch a program from Canada called Dragon’s Den where a number of innovators or inventors make a presentation of their product and seek to interest the venture capitalists in “buying into” their offering; shares in their company for a specific amount of money. If they are successful they get the money and the entrepreneurs get a stake in the company and lend their knowledge and expertise to develop the product. Viewers see how difficult it is to get funding for these things. It’s not enough to have a good idea, a lot more is required in getting people to part wieh their money.There is an American version called the Shark Tank, which is rougher than Dragon’s Den. People, especially young people have to be prepared to leave the security of the “nest” Barbados and venture outside, willing to take their chances in the world beyond our shores. If their ideas are sound then they will progress. Staying home and expecting everything to be provided for them will not work. In order for an eagle to soar, from the time it is strong enough the mother pushes it out of thenest. It then faces two alternatives, spread its wings and soar, or fall to the ground. I already suggested that qualified students seek scholarships, fellowships and any form of funding to study further overseas. It is not easy, but the first flight of an eagle is also difficult, but once it flies, the sky is the limit. Be bold, venture into the unknown. We have many many scholars who have left Bim and succeeded overseas. Bim is small,tiny, compared to the rest of the world, but we have the people to achieve. Get up and MOVE. Nothing is holding you back.

  4. @ Looking Glass

    Your comments on “The prevailing system breeds inefficiency and ineffectiveness which in turn kills innovation and creativity” resonate with me. as does your statement “ not suggesting the absence of talent. Potential talent needs to be nurtured and directed”

    In reviewing responses to your remarks, not many persons, if any at all, focused on if our existing curriculum nurtures that latent talent in our students.

    In fact, this aspect of whether “our current curriculum” promotes memorization/replication encouraging and breeding “consumers and not innovators” seems to have been “a shot over the bow”.

    Maybe if we consider that from our (Caribbean) first declaration of independence in 1804, followed by the second and third in 1962, the salient fact is that none of our Caribbean Member States has never had a School for “Gifted Children”.

    Maybe this might inform on our predisposition, rather ability, to encourage Innovation/invention at a national level.

    I am sure that educators among you will jump in to attack that statement and while I cannot be as bold as Well Well in his/her comment about the ability of the Minister of Education to evaluate/nurture a more progressive educational matrix, I respectfully agree that we are missing the mark.

    If we think that there is a digital divide now, WHEN Artifical Intelligence (AI) reaches its zenith countries like ours are going to die.

    When i can programme a computer to plant and reap sugar can or any other crop 24/7, no union leader will be able to intervene and demand overtime and make my workers stop to insist on increased salaries.

    In fact, i have mispoken. AI WILL NOT BE ALLOWED to darken the shores of third world countries like Barbados an others of our lost CARIBBEAN MEMBER STATES

    • @David Weekes

      The BU household is not as articulate as you and LG but our simple litmus test is to just how competitive is Barbados on the regional and internal front. After such an evaluation we can better assess the effectiveness of our education programs.

  5. @ Alvin Cummins

    I am one of the many who can speak to the innovation matrix and (not a few of) the innovation entities that you advance in you view of the Innovation landscape called Barbados

    “What part of the United States that idea has come from?”

    These are the incredulous words of the Head of the **** an agency charged with the responsibility of making funding available to innovation when I sought funding for my patented border crossing solution the Global Origin and Destination Information System in 2001!

    Mr Cummins, when you go to the counter at ** and swipe your passport for onward voyage to ***, that is my patent!

    Accenture was awarded a US$10B contract for 10 years utilizing a similar border crossing construct in 2006. Note my commencement date 2001 versus 2006.

    Are we ready to take on the world Mr. Cummins, I think not.

    “Why would our agency seek to fund your census and election campaign software when there is only one general election every 5 years and one census every 10 years IN BARBADOS?”

    These are the words of **, one of the committee members of ***, the leading micro-enterprise development agency in Barbados. *** is tasked with facilitating Innovation and Invention.

    Mind you, there are 178 countries worldwide which conduct , local, county, municipal, burrough, federal, state, elections. India will require 2 million enumerators to perform its census, yet this committee member proudly makes this pronouncement.

    FYI, the price for censii services for large countries range from 100’s of millions to the billions but here is “a gatekeeper with myopia”, appointed to an Innovation Entity, “one of those who are to chart the Innovation and Invention strategy of Barbados” making a defining statement about Barbados only having one election and by extension my solution only making 3 sales every ten years!

    I will go on Mr. Cummins to say this since in the rest of your submission you counter my statement concerning these local challenges of ineptitude with the cliche response “go outside Barbados”.

    I, would bring a reality check to that suggestion.


    I am not dissuading persons from seeking out funding across this huge world but, here are some of the realities that operationalizing those statement will encounter.

    First thing Mr. Cummins courting a potential investor from this distance takes time and money, Post intensive due diligence of a potential investor, using email/phone/skype etc, somewhere along this path to investment, you have to get on a plane and eyeball, or be eyeballed by that investor.

    Here is the reality of these “Dragon Den/Shark’s Tank” experiences which one WILL encounter:

    1. “We do not invest in non-domestic companies, outside of our geographic region, outside of our state, etc” and “You are not a national”

    2. “You have an interesting accent, where in Jamaica is Barbados again? (which sometimes parlays into “we are fearful of your Nigerian scam”)

    3. “We need to conduct further evaluation of your technology. Would you be so kind (ignorant) to leave the model with us for say a month for our further evaluation? (Actual Interpretation “banana boat citizen, leave the code with us, we, with our millions of dollars, will reverse engineer it and, after that evaluation period, send it back to you with a negative)

    4. “With an idea of this nature, why is your government not supporting you?

    The final query is often “the googly” Mr. Cummins, it is the question that entrepreneurs CANNOT answer.

    Why would a Bajan come 2,500 miles from “your beautiful beaches” looking for funding for an initiative of this premiere quality? Are there not bankings institutions, national micro-enterprise development institutions (MEDI) and all of the rest that “Barbados as a developing nation” claims to have?

    “Why the hell are you here, if not to scam us Britishers, Canadians, UK and EU investors out of our hard earned monies?

  6. @ Looking Glass.

    Let us say that you run the full gamut of curriculum harmonization and you get to the point where you do have an innovative product, what then?

    In 2003, and again in 2009, when i realised that there were not many local entities with the skill sets to evaluate my innovations I recommended that the government of the day implement a REAP – Rapid Evaluation and Analysis Process.

    REAP would provide that extra tier that would address that lack in domiciled expertise and would co-opt the expertise of skilled, and respected personnel from “our diaspora abroad”.

    These “diaspora” personnel, possibly skilled in disciplines related to our innovation, were to evaluate and confirm if an idea was “of the mettle to face the international arena, and, more importantly, recommend if innovators secured MEDI investment”.

    REAP would evaluate and prioritize “low hanging fruit innovations/inventions” for ongoing MEDI interventions.

    The ** did implement the idea and brought a very skilled professional from the institution *** to effect a REAP on my portfolio of Intellectual Property.

    Shortly there afterwards the same man divorced himself from that REAP mechanism and inserted himself as a new entity that was/is now separate to the government’s REAP.

    He is now sourcing funding for his own REAP incubator enterprise.

    There was no MOU, NDA or contractual agreement between the government and *** to safeguard this REAP concept.

    Here we are 10 years later with no active links in the “diaspora” that leverage that intangible currency of Barbadian HR satellites, living in first world countries.

    We proudly boast that wherever you go in the world you can find a Bajan but we refuse to leverage the skill of these men and women in a way that builds our country.

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