Making Changes to Education … “without altering basic social principles which have got us this far”

Submitted by William Skinner

marion_williamsLadies and gentlemen, our educational system has been a beacon in the Caribbean and the developing world. However if we are to cope with the pressures for change which lie ahead, the cost of education will be immense, if we are not to be left behind. In order that we are on the right side of the divide, the new requirements will necessitate that we restructure and find ways to deliver relevant and high quality education which meet the needs of the 21st century without altering the basic social principles which have got us this far.

Dr. Marion Williams former Governor of The Central Bank of Barbados, 14th Rudolph Goodridge Memorial Lecture & Education Awards Ceremony Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Those who support the abolition of what we commonly refer to as our free education system, are quick to defend their position by saying it is not really free because it is underwritten by the taxpayers. At first this appears to be a strong defense of their position but on closer examination, it is fatally flawed.

The whole concept of free education really means that those who are pursuing the education do not have to pay. In other words it is free at the point of delivery. It is based on the principle that no one should be denied an education because they are unable to pay.

If we endorse the position of those, who argue that we already pay for it via taxation, it could then be countered that if it is no longer” free” we would be paying for it twice: Once when we pay our taxes and when we have to pay the school fees. This also applies to all services we now enjoy free of cost.

A person earning under 12000BDS. per annum, having to pay fees for three children at any of our public institutions of learning, would be bankrupt almost instantly. It is also questionable if a couple earning a joint income under 75000BDS per annum would be able to pay for two children at any of our older grammar schools. Question: Do we really know what a prestigious institution such as Harrison College/Queens College will cost per term for one child? Conservative estimates are, as high as $4000BDS per term. It is widely believed the newer comprehensive schools could cost a minimum of 2700BDS. per term. It is therefore not difficult to conclude, that those who are supporting the abolition of free education are totally unaware of its cost. We can also speculate that a year at UWI, depending on the field of study, could be at least 45000BDS. How many poor citizens can actually afford such costs? Pray tell, which financial institution in Barbados, is going to give unsecured loans to poor students to finance their education.

The question is: What percentage of our population can meet such costs? I daresay a very low percentage, taking into consideration, that many parents even with free bus fares and no school fees still have great difficulty meeting the daily costs of sending their children to school.

There should be a greater flow of information regarding how the education budget is dispensed. The public should know what it costs to educate each child from kindergarten to the University of the West Indies. Perhaps if we had the information there would be a more balanced approach to the debate.

The former Governor as quoted above stated : “………..that we restructure and find ways to deliver relevant and high quality education which meet the needs of the 21st century without altering the basic social principles which have got us this far.” She was absolutely correct. To implement changes without “altering basic social principles which have got us this far” must be foremost in the minds and planning of any serious/progressive government.

108 thoughts on “Making Changes to Education … “without altering basic social principles which have got us this far”

  1. William

    Our education system is being destroyed from the primary level. Don’t worry too much about the other aspects, if the foundation is not build properly the system will collapse. We have to get primary right first. Unfortunately, the interest of the children seems not to be what’s guiding the selection of principals and teachers at that level. Let me cite one example:

    Recently, a number of principals were appointed to lead primary schools. A candidate’s chances for appointment were significantly enhanced if you were either a DLP member or supporter, a loyal BUT member or a toastmaster.

    Before the interviews, a group was given the questions that would have been asked at interview, and the most appropriate answers. They then journeyed to a house in St. Peter to practice. Ironically, one of the group was not placed and she is hopping mad and did a number. The meeting to practice the answers was held at her house and she provided the drinks and sandwiches.

    To pacify her, she was promised a school next school year.

    • Like most things in Barbados the level of incestuousness wjich plagues decisions/how things are done is disgusting. Some of the management approaches by principals and senior teachers are so archaic, it is enough to run those who can barely afford it to enroll their charges at private schools.

  2. What is our National debt?

    What % of it is due to the supply of free education?

    How many of our students educated free of cost can make a dent in the debt?

    I am not against free education but it seems to me that we never got past repeating education is the key to advancement and never defined what advancement really is.

    What is it that we really want from education …. not free education, but just simple plain old education?

    I know several older people all thru my life who were and are far more educated and intelligent than some of the recipients of free education but never went very far at school.

    It seems to me those older Bajans I know and knew are and were more at home and open to learning new things and continually improving themselves.

    Is there a difference between free education and just education because I sure see and have seen evidence around me to suggest that there is?

    COW Williams who I will bet never went too far at school and is no rocket scientist employs/employed hundreds of Bajans.

    Trinidad and other foreign interests own much of our economic resources yet long before free education came on the scene Bajans made such enterprises as BS&T, Plantations, The Barbados Cooperative Cotton Factory and a host of others work and employed many of us.

    The advancement of our economy is not a good advertisement for free education …. nor is the National Debt.

    Maybe we do need to get left behind so we can get our priorities in order and really educate ourselves to ensure our country’s advancement.

    The race is not always for the swift and sometimes it is worth sitting for a while and thinking about what our long term goals are.

    Come to think of it we may even be entered in the wrong race!! Do we even know the difference?

  3. Education of the future will be Internet based and if organised properly should be rather inexpensive. The Americans should lead the charge as their system is pretty bad BUT I would hope that Singapore would move quickly as well so that Bim would have the benefit of the very best system on Earth which is very similar to Bim in that it is British based like ours.

    What we need are the very best teachers teaching on video with an interactive testing system so kids can move at their own speed. I would recommend integrating video games as a reward eg study for half hour, test for 10 mins and then 5-10 mins of video game.

    Kids are too used to moving quickly, in this fast paced electronic device world to be left in the hands of a boring education system.

  4. @ Caswell Franklyn
    Caswell, I do understand and know of the political appointments that plague the system. Unfortunately, this is true of both political parties. In terms of the teachers, there is no empirical evidence that teachers are underperforming. This is a red herring that is used whenever there is an attempt at discussing serious matters affecting our educational system. Quite frankly it is senseless to brag about how good the system is and then declare our teachers are no good.I would continue to defend the teaching profession and those hardworking teachers who daily execute their duties in a professional manner.
    I do concur that the primary school system is in need of serious reform. It is a position that I have held for the past forty years. This goes beyond the political activities that have infected ALL ministries underboth the BLP/DLP.

    • @William

      None of the stakeholders in the education system can be given a free pass when the mean score at most of our primary schools is a shade over 50+ in the CEE. Unless we have a good system of performance appraisal we are all guessing.


    Its seem to be a distraction from the main problems facing us now. Attack on the family , Listen to the Minister looking to fix what is not broken ,
    Grown men and women worried about there pay check before the children , Soon the adult will behave worse then the students.
    Family Acts and now children , mist family make less to noting after working 45 hours a week or more , seem to want to put the poor families more in debt , That way they will not focus on the government,

    This country maybe sinking but the way of the numbers , Children and country first.
    Behave like American end up like America.

  6. @ MoneyBrain | July 7, 2013 at 11:50 PM |
    “Education of the future will be Internet based and if organised properly should be rather inexpensive.”

    Well said! Your contribution certainly expresses my view of this conservatively ‘aging” educational system in Barbados.
    It might benefit a few students who can perform creditably in any learning environment, Victorian or ICT based. But the majority of “ordinarily gifted” students are finding great difficulty in relating to an ‘old-fashioned’ system and teaching methods that are mostly out of sync with their day-to-day experiences in a modern world heavily influenced and determined by ICT whether in the form of available devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops or through the daily use social networking activities.

    Bim needs to get with the programme in the class room starting with the primary schools or it might just find itself way back of the pack in this fast race on the Information Highway even lagging behind many African countries.

  7. If our perception of education means being able to read, write, sign your name and vote then we are educated. If educations means that we can think for our selves, understand what others are saying and can express ourselves in a manner that most people will understand then we can say we are educated.

    For me education is a continuous and flexible process adapting to change and communicating in a manner that is easily understood.

    To achieve any level of education that is going to be beneficial to our country a broad foundation is essential. There must be some flexibility and an ability to think independently. Our system is coercive and regurgitative. Knowledge should flow both ways in and out of a class room.

    A weak foundation will show up over time and this seems to be the case of what is presently happening. Are we willing fix the cracks or can we demolish and rebuild?

  8. @ David,
    David I am not attempting to give anybody a free pass. It is ironic that those who are calling for continuous assessment of our teachers are rejecting that same call for our children. As you correctly stated: “Unless we have a good system of performance appraisal we are all guessing.” However, teachers do not set educational policy and if they are professionally required to prop up an elitist failing system you can expect the results you referenced. The means score of the CEE is no proper way to judge either the performance of our children or teachers.and this is the point that progressive thinkers have been making for the last forty years.

  9. @William

    You have reinforced BU’s point that we cannot give teachers a pass in an ‘elitist’ as you say if said system continues to marginalize about 60% of the children.

  10. The primary school system needs to be revamped, the foundation is definitely the most important, the way students are being taught going forward will be technology based and will run parallel the way the employees are now required and expected to perform. keeping an archaic post colonial structure for the primary schools will destroy future abilities to function in a world that has already changed.

  11. Stupse …

    Talk talk talk

    Government needs Barbadians to serve as bureaucrats and to tax.
    The Private sector needs Barbadians to serve as bureaucrats and to spend.
    Educating Barbadians to perform these simple tasks does NOT require a greater effort than that which is currently being shown.

    Talk talk talk

  12. Cannot wait for the findings of Jonesie’s September investigations into why primary school children in the 2013 common entrance examination did so poorly. I can tell you minister before you start, the moral in the schools is very low. Too much political interference, nepotism, yardfowlism. Some of those same teachers that you plan to investigate have a shift system at their homes on weekends, holidays with those same private school students. There is a lot of satisfaction when teaching those children of the middle class. They can reason, they can speak properly, hence the beautiful responses they give in the free response section of the English examination. Private school children are a joy to teach.

  13. Some very good questions asked here like how much does it cost to educate a child. I never even thought of ask that question my self, but we should know, as it is a big factor in the decision making process.

    But i think the education system is doing as it is designed to do, it works perfect at its job, and we all know it and accept it as is. in my experience only people that have mastered the education system (professors) farmers and drug dealers can see the education system for what it is, all others can only see as far as the said education system has programed them to see.

    Why do you think everyone on the island ask what the government will do for even the slightest issue, its a big problem with a small solution, problem is that educated people will never see it, and educated people run the education system.

    Can you believe there is a ban on smart phones in secondary schools in barbados? why not ban the calculator while your at it?

  14. It is a given that when kids have one-on-one interaction with teachers they absorb, understand and articulate better and at a higher level, that goes for primary as well as secondary school level. However, not all parents can afford the additional tutoring in 3-4 subjects that is required for success, if Jones had the intelligence he was supposed to be born with he would know this and adjust the curriculum, class sizes and offer additional after school lessons (correct me if this has already been done, I am also taking into consideration the expenditure involved to achieve this). Teachers are literally making a financial killing on the island with private lessons in all schools, private as well as public, and are getting results.

  15. In Jamaica, Guyana, classes are held for senior school students in the secondary schools up to 5pm. In Barbados, we finish school at 3pm and the the students spend the rest of the evening in the bus-stands. Those countries have a currency that is worth less than a US cent. Things real bad in those islands, yet the students in those islands getting 10, 12, 14 CXCs with grade ones. When last have we heard that Barbados got any of those awards. These are things that Jones and company must address and stop blowing hot air.

    @well Well, can’t blame the teachers from making a killing with lessons. They have a skill that is clearly in demand.

  16. BagJuice…………I am happy to see competent and dedicated teachers making their money, one of my kids who finished secondary school (primary in NY) in Bim (cause i still believe it is the better education for kids of that age) benefited immensely from private tutoring and has done extremely well at a great university. Kudos to the teachers.

  17. @ David I am not attempting to give any body a free pass.however I find it ironic that those who are rejecting continuous assessment of our children are calling for continuous assessment of our teachers! As you correct stated;”Unless we have a good system of performance appraisal we are all guessing.”

  18. We have discussed on BU before and we will raise again: Minister Ronald Jones needs to address the scam which takes place at St. Leonards School most evenings which goes by the name of ‘lessons’.

  19. What are you talking about David? Are you saying that the teachers at St. Leonards School do not have to make a berry on giving lessons? Apparently some of the best teachers in the island teach at St. Leonards School, if we are to judge by the numbers of students from here, there and everywhere who go there for lessons.

  20. Wait David you cut my last comment? Wah wrong wid you …? First you came for Well Well, now yah comin’ fah me …? Wah wrong wid yah man …

  21. @GP

    Will answer your question by asking three questions.

    Has the grade I and II CXC results improved at St.Leonards in the last 3 or 4 years?

    Has the grade I and II CXC results improved at Harrison College in the last 3 or 4 years?

    Why are parents of HC students sending their children to St. Leonards for lessons?

  22. DAVID

  23. But David ever’body would know da it is me … I din’ change the avatar … cud dear … I did trying to send a message an’ you kill it .. Stupse

    Well Well … yah safe

  24. Man David Ban Baffy nuh!!!
    Give he bout two weeks to cool off nuh…!
    ……he deserve um!! 🙂

  25. @ David
    Teaching in a government school is not a job…it is an appointment.

    What this means is that there are people who collect their salaries monthly and contribute NOTHING….
    Those who are REALLY good at teaching then feel like idiots for working their butts off and getting the same (sometimes less) and often seeing the lazy €%#~<^%s promoted ahead of them.

    VERY FEW of them put any real effort into teaching.

    Now with lessons, everything is different. Students ( and therefore $$$) are sent to the capable and effective teachers (of lessons) and NOT to the lazy idiots…
    Does this explain the lessons situation David? The real joker is the employer (government) that pays these salaries without demanding performance. But what else can we expect when ministers draw their salaries without performance…?

    There are some teachers who have been known to advise parents to send their child to their lessons class 'if they are really interested in results'….

    Broken system.
    Head bad….whole body suffers….

    • Bushie

      I have to disagree with you, the real jokers are the teachers’ unions. The have gone too far and demanded and gotten to much nonsense which make it appear that the teachers are doing the Government and children a favour. If you are a BUT member, you can do whatever you like and that includes not teaching. They have a day off for teachers professional day when they could utilise one of the days in the schools’ vacation. Also, BUT and BSTU members who serve on the executive of their respective unions only teach about three days per week. The principals also get time off during working hours to do union business. The education system seems as though it is designed to cater to the whims and fancies of teachers. Recall that Jones was BUT president for some time and now he can’t tame the monster that he helped to create.

      BUT runs the schools: not the Ministry of Education.

  26. @ Bush Tea | July 8, 2013 at 2:02 PM |

    To put it simply, what you are basically saying is that your BBE is a joker and indeed subserviently submissive to the bigger god called MONEY.
    After all, you yourself feel that Money can fix things by changing the ratio of the national Education budget to one of 100: 400: $100 Million for the systems and $400 Million for the capitalist teachers.

    Right, Bushie? After all, the god called Money has more converts and troops on his side than your imaginary pie-in-the-sky Big Boss Engineer who seems to have lost his way after making so many design faults.

    To use a well worn cliché: “he needs to go back to the drawing board”!

  27. Miller yuh pon a roll…..ah waiting fun de Bushman response. LOLL His BBE is perfect so he will say that is how it has to go down and then his BBE will step in and make it right. LOLL

  28. millertheanunnaki | July 8, 2013 at 2:20 PM |
    @ Bush Tea | July 8, 2013 at 2:02 PM |


  29. @ Caswell
    How can we blame the unions for this…?
    In an adversarial situation like the Management /Union one is, how can you blame one side for being overly successful?
    It is the idiots in management…the Government/ Ministry/Principals.

    The poor unions probably expected to be bargaining against able intelligent opponents only to find that everything they demand and more…they always get….
    The unions don’t seem to realize that their opponents are brass bowls…. 🙂

    If you ask the bushman the ones to REALLY blame are parents….now there we have the REAL brass bowls.

    Sending their most valuable assets (their children) to school and hardly paying any attention to the poor teaching they get.
    …even when they do, they hardly EVER seek action against the poor teachers because “they don’t want their child victimized” (as if it ain’t already happening)
    Parents demand NOTHING from the politicians and keep on paying their high taxes while the system goes to hell…

    What blame what unions what?!?
    It is the top brass (bowls) to blame.

    The only union Bushie is blaming is Unity, cause you should be on the other side of the union/ management fence. You have MUCH more to offer this country as such…
    …right now you only ‘unfairing’ the lotta shiites that you does gotta deal with…..

    @ Miller
    …serious Miller. ……REAL serious.
    You are sounding more and more like a miserable old woman who has been sex-starved.
    You are typing shite. Your submissions are becoming illogical, incoherent and frankly pathetic.. …somewhat like Well Well…
    You now only sound intelligent when matched with ac…. 🙂

    @ Islandgal
    Bushie should have had you locked up after that Titanic lifeboat incident….

  30. Bushie LOLL yuh mean lock up wid yuh? Yuh ole drag queen RFLMAO.

    “If you ask the bushman the ones to REALLY blame are parents….now there we have the REAL brass bowls.”

    But Bushie what yuh blaming the parents for? But Bushie dem same parents are products of the same system that producing nuff Brass bowls. Dem did always have Brass bowls from de time of de Dipper, the only ting is dat dem didnt have no brass cleaner to shine dem up. Now dem cud afford brass cleaner or Brasso dem shining up like stars in de sky. Dem so numerous it is hard to count dem all. LOLL

  31. @Bush Tea and GP

    We call it a scam because it has become the norm for HC students to play the tail during most of the school year ie. Don’t pay the teachers any attention and then lo and behold the saviours at St. Leonards come to the rescue. In summary, all the HC parents have been prepped to not worry, St. Leonards evening classes will save the day.

  32. @John
    I trust you are able to pay up—how much U want to bet that COW did NOT do well at school. Naturally you have to compare his GCEs against school leavers of the day circa early 1950s. Coming from a big family he had to go to work after O Levels. Bizzy, his younger brother, was able to attain a BSc in Engineering from UWI. Typical of many families in the 40+years ago period, including mine where the 2 youngest are the best educated, BUT the oldest probably had as good an IQ.

  33. @ Islandgal
    “Bushie LOLL yuh mean lock up wid yuh?…”
    Frighten enough for you hear…?
    …you know Bushie too good bozie…:)

    The system does not really “produce” brass bowls….it merely polishes them to the extent that they shine a lot and produce lots of shrill noises….. They become CERTIFIED brass bowls.
    …there are a few solid ceramic bowls that also pass through the system….but they tend to be over-awed by the lotta brass…and they keep a low profile

    LOL …but not Bushie….

    @ David
    But if the HC students are able to play the fool all year and then go to some lessons at St Leonard’s and do as well as they usually do in their exams…what does that tell you…?

    …..some shoite is wrong with the system.
    – Either the work is too easy for these students- (and perhaps THAT is why we can’t find leaders….)
    – the time allocated for learning is too long…and BORING for bright students…
    – the HC teachers are a waste – (many go there looking for easy work with gifted children)
    – the St Leonard’s teachers are brilliant….(or just have something to prove..)
    ….or the whole thing is a scam to fleece lessons monies from parents….(most of whom have more dollars than sense.)

    In any case it probably means that those gifted children can LEARN A DAMN LOT MORE if they had to, in the time (and budget) allocated…..except that the jokers who run the system have given the gifted HC students THE SAME TIME TO COVER THE SYLLABUS as those at the bottom of the list of the academically gifted….


    … we all still see to think that we are living in the 60’s.

    Bottom line David….
    There is no vision…the results are inevitable…

  34. @ GP …..who told Miller….
    Now GP you see why Bushie have such respect for wunna fellows from Crumpton Street?
    …you see how sweet you just tell Miller that he talking shoite…? ….proper den!
    Bushie would have been force to tell Miller to hush his old miserable, menopausal behind….but the ‘non sequitur’ thing sound too sweet… 🙂 nothing like a little Latin cussing. LOL Ha Ha

  35. @GP
    “There is no vision…the results are inevitable…”

    succinct, sound, and solid.

    Just Observing

  36. Observing

    How the hell you could be observing in a land where there is no vision …. huh? … What the hell is it that you looking at …?

  37. Since we’re talking education here’s a video while the storm passes

    Have you dug into “Outliers” as yet? Would be interesting to put some of the theories to test in our little land. We lack for sufficient thinkers and leaders.

    Just Observing

    • @Observing (…)

      Do you get the impression there is any individual or group who sees the reward by investing 10,000 hours toward perfecting a vocation?

  38. @David
    sadly I concur. But, it does show that there are possibilities for those who take the time to seek and grasp them. And it also shows that circumstances do not need to be absolute. I must find a way to test the “date theory” though. Would make for interesting discussion in our 11+ setting. 8-10 months just may make a world of difference.

    Also, let’s carry it a little further to ask which “generation/age range” is best suited to lead “at this time.” I could easily hazard a guess and suggest that none of our current crop of leaders would fit.

    Just Listening (hahaha)

    • @Observing(…)

      The first day the MoE/government releases that kind of info about the CEE we will apply the concepts.

  39. as soon as bush tea losing a fight he tries to intimidate. ac couldn’t care a Brass or a cooper bowl wuh he think .

  40. MoneyBrain | July 8, 2013 at 6:26 PM |

    I trust you are able to pay up—how much U want to bet that COW did NOT do well at school. Naturally you have to compare his GCEs against school leavers of the day circa early 1950s. Coming from a big family he had to go to work after O Levels. Bizzy, his younger brother, was able to attain a BSc in Engineering from UWI. Typical of many families in the 40+years ago period, including mine where the 2 youngest are the best educated, BUT the oldest probably had as good an IQ.
    I don’t need to pay up because I didn’t say COW Williams did not do well at school I said he did not go far, with which if I understand you right, you are agreeing.

    I get the impression you are also suggesting he also did not get too many O levels with high grades which I would not know and thus would be unwilling to bet. However, the UWI has given him a degree recently in recognition of his achievements, with or without the O levels.

    Bizzy with his BSc. in engineering from UWI who did go far by the standards of the day needed COW, the guy who never went too far in school, to set the stage for him!!

    I always heard it said that Bizzy (short for Bismark … the ship) was born the year the Bismark was sunk, 1941, an enormous propaganda coup for Britain which had its impact on Barbados, hence the nickname.

    So he would have graduated probably in the early 1960’s and returned to Barbados to find COW’s business growing. By then the Deep Water Harbour had been built. I suspect at that stage it was still too small to employ Bizzy.

    Bizzy probably did not benefit from “free” secondary education in the 1950’s which tends to even further support my contention that there may very well be a difference between “free” education and just plain education.

  41. @John
    Cow’s start was buying and old D6 Bulldozer to work at moving big rocks for the Harbour Project in 1960-61. So in the early 1960s his operation was very embryonic.
    The critical problem with education in Bim is typical of whatever just about any Government becomes involved with, lack of proper monitoring and control. The Teachers and students are NOT held to a high enough standard. Teachers should have to meet standards and should be rated by students. Bad teachers should be given further training and if they dont improve should be FIRED like anyone else in society who cant accomplish the job!
    When I went to HC in the 1970s there were several incompetent teachers that should have been fired. Indeed a brilliant chap told me he nearly missed the Bdos Scholarship because one of his teachers was totally useless. We all new who the Drunks and incompetents were. Unions can and do serve a crucial role BUT (no pun intended) should NOT be permitted to overrule commonsense and progress.

  42. @moneybrain
    “The Teachers and students are NOT held to a high enough standard. Teachers should have to meet standards and should be rated by students. Bad teachers should be given further training”

    Which standard should teachers be held to?
    what makes a “bad” teacher?

    Just playing a lil devil’s advocate…

  43. Observing

    You got it.

    We have never specified what the long term goals are for “free” education and continue to offer it for the sake of being able to say we have “free” education in Barbados.

    Why do we allocate the tens/hundreds of millions of dollars to education?

    What do we want in return?

    One set of politicians will say we are responsible for free secondary education closely followed by the other set of politicians saying it wasn’t you lot it was us!!.

    We are yet to figure out why!!

    When we do figure out why, the standards you ask about will be clear and each teacher will automatically hold himself/herself accountable to those standards.

    … and then we will know what it is we have to monitor!!

    Providing easy access to an education for every child is the right thing to do but if it is done purely for the purpose of saying we did it, I think it can become a waste of resources.

    I went thru HC from 1966 and into the 70’s, got my free education then went to university for another four years and got some more. I can’t honestly say while I was getting it I knew what it was I was getting it for.

    Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what I got but it wasn’t until years after I left university that I realized what it was I had acquired/had given to me and figured out how to use it.

    I have enjoyed it every day of my life since then. I have no regrets, in fact school days was happy, happy days and I can’t think of a single teacher at HC or university in my time that I could describe as useless.

    I think though that I would have liked it if somebody could have told me why I was doing what I was doing when I was doing it.

    Maybe it just isn’t meant to be so and the individual has to figure it out for himself/herself given his/her unique set of circumstances.

  44. Bush Tea said:

    ” the time allocated for learning is too long…and BORING for bright students…”

    After so many tries bushtea finally got something right…………And that is the reason why kids are sick and tired of being sick and tired. My daughter spent six years in the education system in Bim, from private school to QC and that was her cry, she insisted she could have finished with both CXC of which she got 8 grade 1s, Cape of which she received 10 grade 1s in half the time that was required. There should be a program or school to facilitate kids with abilities that does not require waiting on others to catch up, that is not saying that the ones who need more time are not brighter than the ones who can zoom through, it’s just some people move faster than others and that should be utilized wisely.

  45. “……bushtea finally got something right….”
    The other way of looking at it Well Well, is that you have been finally ably to comprehend one of Bushie’s advanced concepts… 🙂
    …this particular one is not very advanced…indeed it is intuitive… ..perhaps that is why you get it…

    The real joke is that this is precisely why we have the 11+, but then the brass bowls in charge proceeds to give everyone the same identical timetable, syllabus and teachers….. STRESSING the slow ones and BORING the quick ones….


    Bushie is surprised that you are not high up in the MOE WW… LOL…Sounds like you would be a high-flyer there… 🙂

    You daughter only got 10 grade 1s at CAPE? …and took as much as half the time?….shoite WW…
    …Wuh she slacking…..
    …wid a mudda that knows everybody important, lives everywhere, and has access to unlimited resources…?
    ….that daughter is the family dunce right…? LOL Ha Ha Oh ShiRT!!!

  46. Since when can anyone sit 10 CAPES? Aren’t these the replacement for A levels? The most I have heard anyone sitting is 4 “A” levels. Someone is one BIG ASS LIAR or I am really a dumbass.

  47. @ Well Well

    “There should be a program or school to facilitate kids with abilities that does not require waiting on others to catch up, that is not saying that the ones who need more time are not brighter than the ones who can zoom through, it’s just some people move faster than others and that should be utilized wisely.”
    This is precisely what continuous assessment seeks to achieve. We are currently applying a one size fits all to education and that simply cannot work. If children are not properly assessed , we cannot instruct them properly. We have people who opposed the CEE back in the seventies, who are now politicians ,on both sides. and are knowingly misleading the public. I was a very active member of the BUT back then and it was the brilliant But President John Cumberbatch, who declared that the system was elitist and would eventually cater only to the elites thereby defeating the very purpose of education. This debate is now forty plus years old .

  48. @John
    Veryr few people have ever. Clearly and comprehensively looked at education as a full bred input-output based organism. Free education was brought about to give acces, equuality, and to level the playing field. You are correct with your question. What is education supposed to achieve now?

    Curriculum 2000 makes an attempt to redefine the modern goals of education but alas we see what happens when good ideas get flooded with too much money, unsure technocrats and lofty political ambitions. The current HR Development Strategy follows beautifully in its footsteps.

    The speed of progress of the gifted will always be stymied by the view that “we move at the pace of the slowest.”. Remember “each one matters?”

    The challenge with education is the same as with a lot of Barbados, hypocrisy and naivete. We “pretend” all schools are equal, “preach” that each child stands the same chance and “promise” that the curriculum is relevant to current needs yet “persistently practice” the concepts of high school/low school; good jobs/bad jobs; bright child “better” than not bright child and traditional methods rather than 21st century ones.

    Our system will continue to lag as a result of internal structural defects, insufficient political will and the ignorance of current planners and policy makers about the dynamism, diversity, reality and urgency of living, working and operating in the “new world.”

    Re my earlier outliers question. The leaders best suited for this age are those who can bridge the foundations, values and traditions that Skinner and John speak of, with the world and ICT based life that Sid and moneybrain preach, with the future and vision that those like Baffy and miller suggest

    They should also be as skeptical and deeply questioning as Caswell and ac but have the people skills of islandgal. Then let them balance the spiritual awareness of GP (without the arrogance of Zoe), with the logic and reasoning of Jeff /Amused / check it out and mix in Kiki’s contemporary consciousness on top of David’s social media/communication savvy.

    Of course a good dose of Bushie’s BBE’s natural sixth sense and third eye sight would be the icing on the cake.

    Trust me, the real leaders are among us. The difficulty is that the mock leaders enjoy their power, status and status quo. And so it shall remain…until……

    Just Observing

    • Observing

      Your comment makes sense and I agree with your position. However, I am deeply hurt that you can put my name and AC in the same sentence. You owe me an apology.

  49. The person that put up the TED video has done the thread a great service. However, once one has established the reason for educating people in a free market environment, one would recognize that Barbados is doing just fine. It is producing thousands upon thousands of simple consumers for everything from clothes to political parties to religious attachments, and it is providing a cheap enough source of a variety of skills for domestic and international businesses to exploit.

  50. btw, devil’s advocate again…

    A bad employee is one who does not meet objectives or satisfy their job requirements, or, one who does but goes completely against the grain of organisational norms and behaviour.

    So can anyone say what makes a bad teacher?

    Just observing

  51. I think there is an immense difference between education and schooling.

    We are well schooled …. but alas, not educated.

    Many of us survive the schooling unscathed.

    I think we need to create a society which prizes education and not schooling.

    Schooling just prepares a person to be a follower, education prepares a person to be a leader.

    Isn’t that what we see in Barbados today …. loads of followers and few if any leaders?

  52. St George Secondary is the most depressing and forbidding edifice in Barbados, surpassing the likes of Glendairy, which at least has got architectural appeal . What would it take to plant a hundred trees in every school in Barbados

  53. @ Observing(…) | July 9, 2013 at 9:08 AM |

    I immensely enjoyed reading your piece here!
    But can we get those in charge of policy implementation to listen?

    BTW Observing(…), the miller would like to hear your views regarding the introduction of a “health lottery” to help fund the hospital and other public health institutions are far as equipment maintenance and upgrade is concerned.
    That Health Lottery can run along the existing lotteries and other games of chance.

    The basic infrastructure is there and the only guarantee needed is to keep politicians out of it altogether.
    It would be left up to ordinary Barbadians and friends to determine the success or failure of such a venture to support public health by their enthusiasm to give their patronage vis-à-vis the other not so altruistic and good causes games of chance like the Super Lotto.

  54. Miller

    re the Hospital Lotto: if the politicians are kept out then all of the money will be stolen by the thieving Barbadians.

  55. Go with dumbass……………….you are allowed to take 10 Cape subjects if you are capable and so inclined, call Dr. Browne at QC and ask him…………example: 4 the first sitting and say French 1 and 2 included in the 4 at the next sitting………….dumbass

  56. Should read:
    example: 4 the first sitting and say French 1 and 2 as well as the 4 at the next sitting………….dumbass

  57. Well Well you didn’t say that it was in two sittings…you like to give people the impression that you have given birth to geniuses.

  58. Well Well…you have got a serious personality disorder. I can see you are suffering from ” a disacustomcy” and “I have arrived” syndrome.

  59. William Skinner…………Trinidad is trying with continuous assessment, they are trying to phase out the common entrance like stress test.

  60. Island……….sorry, i can’t deal with idiots today, i have something really important doing right now, can only spare a few lines.

  61. @ Well Well
    The general population needs to know and be properly informed of the problems inherent in the our education system. I know FOR A FACT that children have entered that exam room totally incapable of finding where they were to sit because they had no basic understanding of numerals/numbers. I often asked myself : how would their parents feel /react if they knew their children had no chance at all. I have seen nice/normal children who underwent swift personality changes , when the results “came back’ and they had failed to “get in” to what was considered a “proper” school. These are real experiences .

    This quote from the article I mentioned above can be directly asked of Barbados:
    “Thirty per cent of SEA students do badly in the exam. One in three. About 1,000 fail miserably. Why do they fail? No one knows. What happens to them? No one knows. Perhaps this is the group we should be concentrating on? This is the group the Minister of Education should be talking to? This is the group the media should be highlighting? Why are they failing and what can be done to assist them? What happened to the thousand from last year? And the year before? And for the last 30 years? Is that 30,000 failures out there on the streets? I would venture to suggest that a significant proportion of street children, drug addicts and criminals come from these failures.
    I also want to suggest that most of the children who fail the SEA so miserably have some form of disability and that there is a direct relationship between disability in children, SEA failures and criminality in T&T. At least this year the minister has proposed that the SEA, in his own words, “the dreaded SEA,” be eliminated and be replaced by a continuous assessment system, a much fairer and more accurate system of evaluating a student. He must be congratulated for bringing this to the public table and prepare for war from those who dislike change”

    • @Observing(…)

      To answer your question think private sector and what makes a successful organization. Think what defines a learning organization and by extension a successful organization. It is the ability to ride learning (education) to be able to constantly transform to deliver value to our ‘space’..

  62. @Baffy
    you are right. Our system is doing what it was designed to do. the problem is that our leaders keep telling us that it is supposed to do something different without the collective action to back it their talk.

    Egad mate! My bad. I sincerely and humbly apologise.

    “can we get those in charge of policy implementation to listen?”

    sure! but only when we become those in charge. lol.

    re. the health lottery…
    If you can guarantee that current politicians won’t be in it then I’m all for it!

    Thank you for my word of the week!

    @well well
    continuous assessment is essentially common entrance by another name stretched out over a longer period of time. I agree that it would give a more longitudinal analysis of the student’s ability and erase the “one-day jitters” but, the problem isn’t only the “tool” which we use to assess…it’s more about

    1. the processes,instruction and feedback that lead to the assessment whenever it comes
    2. the range of skills and capabilities that the assessment actually measures
    3. what we do with the results of the assessment given our longer term national, social and economic goals and
    4. the perception of the public and students as to the reasons for being instructed and assessed in the first place (i.e. the value of education and the purpose of being educated)

    Of course all of this depends on having a philosophy of education that is much broader, more contemporary and more forward thinking than the one we generally hold to now.

    I just read over the post and noticed your Marion Williams’ quote. Life is ironic. I used that exact quote a few years ago in a paper I wrote. The topic then was more about financing rather than restructuring though. BU is a fount of wisdom. I am privileged.

    Just observing

  63. William Skinner………….they are definitely too programmed into the facade that is the common entrance and don’t understand that it will continue to degrade the standard of education and output primary school kids are being subjected to…………but we can only talk, it’s up to Jones, et all to be able to see and make changes. They will soon see 80% of the kids falling through the cracks, but some may tell us they like it so.

  64. Observing…………..i agree, it is very deep-seated and it will take people who are capable of deep thought analysis to recognize and make appropriate changes.

  65. @David
    agreed with respect to private sector and organizations, but education is a tad more complex.

    the challenge with education is that its dynamic inputs and varying outputs are not so easily identified. Added to that is the diversity of processes (instruction, assessment etc.) and the numerous uncontrollable external factors (society, parents etc.)

    A “successful” school should never be seen simply as the one with the most grade ones or scholarships. We need to move past that and in a hurry.

    wrt learning organisations, this would have to apply at the school level, not at the national level, at least not yet. Each school and their stakeholders would need to be responsible for inculcating and promoting those five main features. The MoE would be the supporter and keep out of the way. In education the concept is akin to a Professional Learning Community.

    I always believed that the root of education is much more philosophical than practical hence why a lot of people take years to begin “get it.”

    regarding adding value to space….who determines this? should this value be top-down (leader driven), bottom-up (socially demanded) or collective (consensus oriented)?

    Just observing

    • @Observing(…)

      It is difficult in the system of edcuation in Barbados for the reasons John posited above. We do not have a coherent vision and therefore the strategies and tactics to achieve the vision is muddied.

  66. @david
    muddied, muddled, miserable, madness. lol. take your pick!

    having said that though we’ve done well in the past, have done ok recently and are doing sorta okish now. the future however is where the challenge will lie.

    On the topic of collective vision….the PM has stated more than once his vision for Barbados using four pillars. Can any one here repeat or remember them?

    If not, consider that a vision which is not shared in simple terms, constantly communicated to and embraced by a people will never be achieved. Food for thought. I hope our leaders are reading and listening.

    Just Observing

  67. @ William Skinner

    I think you misunderstand the economics of education. There is nothing ‘flawed’ about pointing out that the idea of ‘free’ education is misleading.
    There is a cost for providing education at every level, including the cost of the building, salaries etc.
    This cost must be met and if it is not met by the recipients of the education, ir a benefactor, then it is met by the local or national state through a form of taxation, according to the jurisdiction.
    What is ‘free’ is the education at the point that the beneficiary receives it, but that does not make it free.
    The further disadvantage is that many of those who pay for others to receive higher education are themselves poorly educated and qualified. This is unfair.
    In many ways we pay expensively for many of our young people to be educated and trained then they join the brain drain.
    There are more Ethiopian-trained doctors in Chicago than in the whole of Ethiopia. So, one of the poorest countries in the world is paying to train doctors to work in the wealthiest nation in the world.

  68. @ Observing
    Is EDUCATION not “the process of preparation for a successful life”?

    …..there are therefore millions of different ways in which “education” can be defined as successful for different persons……
    It really has nothing to do with certificates, degrees or years spent in university, but in the level of preparedness of the individual to succeed in life.

    As the video says therefore, any concept of a standardized educational approach is fundamentally flawed.

    If you really understand education it becomes clear that there must be a number of major phases to be executed in ensuring success:

    1- an identification of natural talents, skills, and weaknesses at the individual and national levels.
    2- establishment of goals and objectives to be targeted both on a national and individual level…
    3- Systems in place to achieve the goals and objectives, given any limitations of weaknesses and strengths….

    Finally, performance MUST be measured in terms of the extent to which EVERYONE has been able to meet their own individual goals…and not where we simply focus on a few high flyers who in most cases have had disproportionate levels of resources available to them, and whose final value to our society has been questionable – given our history of poor leadership and management.

  69. As i see it, the current batch of leaders on the island can in no way be deemed high flyers and how they actually got their current positions is questionably at best. It is my opinion that after graduating 6th form or sometimes the high schoolers who are the real high flyers leave the island and try not to return.

  70. @bushie
    We are seeing eyes to eyes.

    True education starts at birth and never ends.

    Do we dare start the discussion on a “successful life?” Lol

    It is clear B’dos has neither the resources, trained personnel, systems nor infrastructure in place to extract the best from the “average” or provide opportunities for the seemingly underperforming to overachieve in their true areas of excellence.

    This discussion we are having is 10 years too late but ironically 15 years ahead of its time. David should archive this thread and bury it in a time capsule. Lol.


  71. @Bushie
    “Scamming lesson money” Brilliant shot from miles away!
    Excellent points made. The MOE is infested with clowns from 50+ years ago!
    I sat the Screening Test in Feb 1966 at 9 yrs and aced it, thus qualifying for the final in May 1966. The MOE sends my school/ parents a letter stating that regardless of killing the Test that I am barred from taking the Finals unto May 1967. I was FORCED to wait a whole year learning NOTHING new! JOKERS! I murdered the Finals in 1967 and the Headmaster at HC placed me in 2nd year! Now i must spend my Summer Hols catching up????
    I had proof positive, at age 10, that far too many Adults are BLOODY IDIOTS!

  72. The inabilty to define education in it.s truest form has gotten us nowwhere the bajan way of defining educatiion is basically Reading ! Writing ! and Arithmetic and with those goals in mind the educational system will remain stuck in an antiquated and outdated system.

  73. @Observing and John
    While I would not claim to be an expert in Teacher Evaluation here are a few pointers
    1 no drinking of rum during school hours and no excessive drinking on your time which leads to viscous hangovers affecting classroom performance, several HC teachers in the 1967-76 —FAILED!
    2 Know how to control the classroom or some clever kids WILL highjack proceedings.
    3 Make the subject interesting or some Clever students will be bored shitless and not bother with the subject.
    4 know your subject thoroughly
    5 learn to speak languages fluently and with correct pronounciation. Bajan French was not tested by Cambridge or CXC. Why would anyone be interested in a language they are NOT learning to speak properly?
    6 Survey all students regarding teachers and compare comments of top half versus bottom half of student results. Conduct interviews to really evaluate the teachers abilty.
    7 Appreciate that because a teacher was a brilliant student does NOT mean that they can teach.

    Out of time

  74. @ Hal Austin,
    I quite understand the economics of education. My point was that those who want to abolish free education try to argue it is not free because it is underwritten by the taxpayers. This is also true of Queens Park but we don’t pay to go in there.So we can claim that Queens Park is not free. We have free beaches that have to be maintained by the taxpayers but we don’t pay to use them. We can argue the beach is not free either. I believe it is a convenient red herring. That was the sole purpose of my position. My firm belief is that the economic playing field of Barbados is not yet level and the abolition free education, health care or any service from which the poor benefit will be social suicide. I think I fully understand that nothing is free.under the sun. What I find despicable is that people , who ought to know better will use red herrings rather than reasonable argument to defend their positions. .This entire debate about education reform has been marred by those who prefer to put their intellectual and academic wares on display rather than deal with the progressive development of Barbados and the Caribbean.
    I agree with you that we educate people and then they leave. Some will argue that the remittances they contribute are also important.We need to understand that the social structure of Barbados 30/40 years ago was also responsible for many of those who left or did not return because they thought they would never be treated the way they should have been even with a superior education/qualification.
    I must thank BU for the opportunity we get to express ourselves on this blog. I find the current discussion here to be very enlightening and its perhaps the best and most informative I have engaged in for some time.

  75. @ Moneybrain
    Good examples. The AMAZING thing about Barbados has been our ability to ignore such OBVIOUS shortcomings while bragging about our system….. BTW careful with the personal details, for all you know Bushie may have put a couple slaps ‘cross your smooth head back in the 60’s 🙂

    @ Observing
    “Do we dare start the discussion on a “successful life?”
    Bushie dares you! ….you would NOW be stepping into the Bushman area of expertise…. LOL

    Our children are born into our families and they need to be “educated” with the aim of developing the skills and knowledge needed for living a happy, fulfilled, successful physical life.

    But the whole physical experience of Living is another level of “Education” in itself, where the aim is to develop the CHARACTER and other requirements needed to move on the the NEXT level of LIFE.

    In this context, the construct of “SUCCESS” is such that it becomes a UNIQUE factor for each individual. …So that what may be abject FAILURE for you could well represent phenominal success for another….

    Suppose Bushie always wanted to be a policeman, and went on to become Asst. Superintendent…..phenomenal !!
    Suppose Observing wanted (and had the talents) to become Prime Minister and ended up as Commissioner….. DRAT! 🙁

    Right now Bushie’s sight are set on getting a gardener pick in the Holy City…… LOL – they GOTTA have lawns….. 🙂

  76. @Bushie
    If U slapped up my head at HC in the 1960-70s then logically it is U that needs to be careful with your details, since I am 6ft 2ins and 240lbs now! LOL

  77. David……………my daughter did the required first four Cape subject sittings and then wanted to take French which was not among the first four, she asked permission for and was granted to take French one and 2 in the second sitting of the next round of Cape, bringing all the subjects to 10……….she did not take French at the private school she went to because the subject was not offered, she did private lessons for that subject and we were not sure she would have been allowed to take French 1 and 2 at her second of the last four Cape Subjects…….but she was among a few others who got the permission. it was just a matter of asking questions and getting permission.

  78. If the current batch of politicians are not worried by the results of the common entrance nonsense, they soon should be, it is on people’s minds for sure…………..

    Niel Harper
    Education or Elitism? You make the call…

    In light of the flurry of discussions I’ve been privy to in recent times pertaining to the Common Entrance Examination (and its abolishment), this article is pretty much a timely one. It provides an interesting perspective on the disturbing occurrence of elitism in education — the distinct class boundaries created by academic segregation, the focus on results over learning and development, the humiliation and punishment of children with different learning dispositions and the enormous pressures children are forced to endure to be ‘successful’ in these environments. All in all, it highlighted that Barbados was not alone in believing that this approach was somehow effective, but that we too have not recognized the negative aspects of perpetuating such a system.

  79. Disacustomcy syndrome is still around……isn’t it amazing how some people does feel that dem children always better than other peoples all de time? An nuboddy ent axe dem a ting Stupse

  80. @Bushie
    “requirements needed to move on to the NEXT (level of) LIFE .”

    A HA!!!!!!!! 🙂

    btw, not me and no Commissioner pick boh. Apparently them too easy to get rid of nowadays.

    we must expand on the “evaluation” but another time. Just bare in mind that it can’t work in isolation nor in a system that lacks immediate reactionary options to stem the tide when faults are found.


  81. @ Islandgal
    Why you don’t stop allowing Well Well to cause you to sin your soul nuh…? Don’t you have enough problems already now that Bushie has dumped you…?
    …you going now and force WW to tell us all about her astronaut son with the 5 PhD’s who have already been (secretly of course) to Mars… after having played football in the last World Cup for Brazil…. 🙂
    Leave WELL enough alone nuh….. Ha Ha LOL Oh Shirt….muh belly…

    LOL @ Moneybrain…. These days are funny night yuh…
    If Bushie slapped your head in the 60’s when he was 4 feet tall he would slap it again in 2013 at 5 feet 9 inches …..only this time with the left hand…… Since the right hand would be busy holding the “nine” … 🙂

  82. @Bushie
    U should really stick to battling with WW and AC!
    Careful of walking into to DEEEEEP water especially that which drops to NINE feet at the waterline like Waimea Bay on the north Coast of Oahu, Hawai in the Summer months.

  83. MoneyBrain | July 9, 2013 at 1:10 PM |

    @Observing and John
    While I would not claim to be an expert in Teacher Evaluation here are a few pointers
    1 no drinking of rum during school hours and no excessive drinking on your time which leads to viscous hangovers affecting classroom performance, several HC teachers in the 1967-76 —FAILED!

    Ethanol allowed!!

    One of my teachers at HC enjoyed his liquors but I never saw him in anyway affected.

    He is probably my most memorable teacher and when I see any of my contemporaries that teacher’s idiosyncrasies inevitably arise.

    We all even talk like him when recalling the happy days he provided. I think what he taught us stuck because of his various stories he would tell, his constant reference to the “weaker vessels” among us and every now and again he would pick up the board duster and wind up as if he would throw it at one of us when that individual exasperated him.

    He was a brilliant teacher, unforgettable …. always looked forward to his classes.

  84. @John
    There are always exceptions to every rule and Fanny was certainly one!
    (BTW, assuming you are really called John I suspect you are either a Lawyer or Consultant)

    On the other hand there was a certain Math teacher who could be exceedingly cranky with his freeeeeequent hangovers and was known to give Es to everyone when in a BAD headache mode! I once won a bet to scream his nickname from the 3 storey building and narrowly avoided a cutarse as a result. HC days was sweeeeeeeeet, if only I had taken school seriously.

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