The George Brathwaite Column – Youth Being short-changed

youth“Education would be much more effective if its purpose was to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they do not know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.”William Haley, British Editor.

In Barbados, more things are changing than are staying fixed. More things are seemingly failing than obviously succeeding. It reasons therefore, that the society as a whole must admit the point at which this country sits. Barbadians must be prepared and proactive in deciding what can be done to rescue and recover the progress that Barbados had grown accustomed – at least up until a few years ago.

Necessity demands an issues-centred approach to active engagement with our society. More so, the youth and their affairs must be prioritised in any national engagement since it is this vital group that is being wrongly demonised today. The youth is the same group that will bear the brunt of policy outcomes and hopefully will lead industry in the medium and long-terms. This is precisely why Barbadians should feel compelled to trace our steps to the root problems affecting the nation, and fix the same as a matter of urgency.

Barbados’ educational system is broken. The mode of instruction inclusive of the resistance to new technologies are rendering the educational system obsolete in areas, and thus, in need of comprehensive reform. For starters, the school curricula at primary and secondary levels must be revisited. Concomitant with addressing the educational fallout must be ways that the country comes together with a demand for civic engagement within erected structures of participatory democracy. At present, Barbadian youths suffer due to widespread marginalisation and institutional discrimination.

Politicians have conveniently suggested that Barbadians complain too much, and critics of the government ought to desist so as not to send the wrong signals into the international system. Social media, so natural to youth, is a medium that antagonises the politician in government. The fact is, the current government has fascination with silence and silencing. It is for this reason, that it must be added that Barbadian youth are being short-changed due to this cryptic inclination from the political elites that is exposed in many more ways than one.

Let us be clear. We are in deep, deep trouble as a country. The educational situation is greatly complicated when fixed ideas about reality are continually substituting for discussions on dynamic issues and complex problems. Annually, there are increasing numbers of Barbados’ youth that suffer through primary and secondary education. These young people later emerge as under-certificated persons interested in earning rather than learning. A few of them are lucky to get pass the gatekeepers and Personnel departments whose claim to fame is more about sexy bottom than top heavy intelligence. With access to tertiary education being delivered a heavy blow by the current administration, it is not surprising that inequalities of all kinds are re-entering post-Independence public discourse.

Incidentally, there will always be young persons having with the right connections that are more able to fit into the unstable job market and avoid means-testing. They eventually will join a callous and competitive workforce that has fallen to be under-productive. Sadly, and without addressing all of the related issues, the country is then told by employers that there is systemic ignorance abounding in Barbados. As W.E.B. Du Bois said many decades ago, “education must not simply teach work – it must teach life.” A responsible Barbados government must not pass the buck. Human Resources gurus have advised that there is lack of critical thinking skills entering the work arena. The public is reminded that acquiring a degree is no replacement for being able to use common sense.

Added to the conundrum negatively deflating the ‘Bajan’ ego is a shortage of information, especially the kind that is driven by research and hard localised data. The public is now at a stage where there is a serious rupture between the governing and the governed. There is low-level validity in relation to people’s expectations and facts on the deliverables. Hence, misinformation, propaganda, and partisan parading have risen to the forefront of policy confusion. Obtuse political factors are calling the tunes for Barbados’ splintered polity, and the apathy has further developed among the nation’s youth.

Barbadian youth are confronted with the denial of opportunity. This dynamic has to do with the selfishness evidenced from those that emerged in higher socio-economic brackets but forgot their starting points. In that regard, the pride and industry that stood for something positive and progressive, has recently dissipated with the politicians’ cleverness in saying ‘follow me, but do not ask questions’.

Traditionally, the Barbados experience has never been to turn a blind eye to the challenges that we face as a nation. Rather, the resilience that is reflected in our self-characterisation has always been about facing the challenges of the day while overcoming without need for wanton boast. Surely, the political, civic, and business leaders in Barbados ought to be doing more to pass the baton to our youth without disqualifying incident.

One clearly recalls the current administration producing a policy document – The National Youth Policy of Barbados (NYPB). The Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth used a historical benchmark inclusive of the post-1937 social reforms, adult suffrage, the provision of free education, and the graduation of the country through attaining Independence in his ‘Preface’, to state that:

“At each of these critical turning points in the recent history of Barbados, the aspirations of young people to participate more fully in the important sectors of society and to enjoy a higher standard of living featured prominently in the deliberations and added a sense of urgency to the demands for change.”

Barbadian youth are demanding urgency, change, and opportunity once again. The present administration has failed to fully embrace the youth in the policy formulation and decision-making processes for national development. In fact, the same NYPB affirms that “the apparent preoccupation with deviant youth and the mistakes that a minority of young men and women make during the transition from childhood to adulthood, has cast a long shadow over youth development.” This condition has served as an impediment to the progressiveness of national youth.

Furthermore, there are gross misunderstandings and intergenerational fallout because of the overly zealous attitude of asserting outright control, instead of promoting critical thinking among our youth and people. These problematic areas give rise to social conflict, and must be immediately addressed. Interestingly, the NYPB asserted that “Caribbean societies have succeeded in reproducing themselves with all the punitive and enslaving historical baggage for which they are renowned.” The demands of today’s crop of youth are indicative of the quest for freedom within the context of rights, duties, obligations and responsibilities.

The social democratic character of Barbados is no better put than in the Barbados Constitution. Implicitly and explicitly, there is recognition that the Barbados Constitution affirms the citizens’ “belief that men and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and the rule of law.” To what extent is the current administration and by extension the political class in Barbados muzzling the voice of the citizen and the youth? Does the deteriorating situation in Barbados reveal the graft of political expediency and the craft of achieving acquiescence and authoritative control?

Moreover, there are many things occurring in Barbados that demand attention of the citizen and the critical thoughtfulness of our youth. Regrettably, critical thinking is hardly a formative part of primary and secondary education in Barbados. The outmoded form of knowledge transfer practiced in Barbados, is also causing hiccups at the tertiary levels. Incompetence is spilling over into the workplace and adult-oriented environments.

Ministers of government, for example, have now seeped themselves in a culture of excuses. The political class has literally and figuratively walked away from nation-building and moved to self-triumphalism. This shameful behaviour is contagious, to the extent that the country is hearing that managers in the public service have not been living up to the expectations commensurate with duties assigned. Think on these things because as John F. Kennedy once said: “Too often we … enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

(Dr. George C. Brathwaite is a part-time lecturer in Political Science at the UWI-Cave Hill Campus, a researcher and political consultant, and up until recently, he was editor of Caribbean Times (Antigua). Email: )

126 thoughts on “The George Brathwaite Column – Youth Being short-changed

  1. @ Anonymouse – TheGazer,

    Kolij was fcuked up racially and socially when we were at school but it was still a good place to go to school.

  2. @ Anonymouse – TheGazer & Georgie Porgie
    Older brother is a brilliant software engineer much more successful than myself living in California.


  4. @Pacha;
    You asked the following questions. Let me answer them as one who has been through the fire and lived long. The persons who exemplified each of the characteristics to answer your questions are given as examples. I am sure others can insert their own examples.The most important thing we can give our children is what we teach them. They look to us as parents for guidance.

    So let us deal with more fundamental issues for our children.

    1) How does integrity faces oppression?

    A person of integrity maintains that integrity whatever happens. With fortitude and calm, firm resolve. Example: The leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King.

    2) What does honesty do in the face of deception?

    Honesty remains honest, whatever others may do. We were born alone and we will die alone. It is the training that one has inculcated that keeps one honest, whatever the circumstances, and whatever others may do. Why be dishonest because others are? Example: Jesus. He forgave Peter, even though Peter deceived him.
    Barack Obama. He has kept his dignity and honesty even though he had to endure years of lies spread against him.

    3) What does decency do in the face of insult?

    One does not return insult with insult. One maintains one’s dignity and as the old people would tell you “grin and bear it.”
    Example: Muhammed Ali, who remained decent till the end, and maintained his dignity despite the insults that were thrown at him.

    4) How does virtue meet brute force?

    THROUGH what Jesus advised. Turn the other cheek, and exude the forgiveness that is needed. One must learn to forgive.
    Example Nelson Mandela.There could have been a blood bath in South Africa, when Mandela was released from prison after being incarcerated for 27 years, for fighting against Apartheid. Through the truth and Reconciliation Commission he showed BLACK AND WHITE SOUTH AFRICANS THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS. He taught them to forgive each other.

  5. Well Well;
    Re the UK, and reparations, one must not forget the U.S. and what they did to the Native Indians, and others. The very wall he wants to build would be built on land they stole from the Mexicans, plus the thousands killed to establish the state of California.

  6. PLT
    as usual, does not have a command of the facts.
    Comrade Bishop of Grenada was executed by a firing squad led by a young man (Lester Redhead) who was recruited by Bishop into the New Jewel Movement and for much of the Revolution served as Bishop’s personal bodyguard.
    The “academics” you refer to — there was only one, and his name was Bernard Coard. He does not have a PhD. Coard did not tell Redhead to kill Bishop until Redhead made a mess of a general instruction to take control of a difficult situation at Fort George. The execution of Bishop should be blamed primarily on Redhead.
    To repeat: My point is that Bishop was personally betrayed by the youth he mentored. Many leaders are faced with similar betrayals in their personal relationships. That is why even so called

  7. PLT
    as usual, does not have a command of the facts.
    Comrade Bishop of Grenada was executed by a firing squad led by a young man (Lester Redhead) who was recruited by Bishop into the New Jewel Movement and for much of the Revolution served as Bishop’s personal bodyguard.
    The “academics” you refer to — there was only one, and his name was Bernard Coard. He does not have a PhD. Coard did not tell Redhead to kill Bishop until Redhead made a mess of a general instruction to take control of a difficult situation at Fort George. The execution of Bishop should be blamed primarily on Redhead.
    To repeat: My point is that Bishop was personally betrayed by the youth he mentored. Many leaders are faced with similar betrayals in their personal relationships. That is why even Western democracies are stingy about their use of consent. Governments only submit to the consent of the governed once every four or five years.

  8. Here is another scholarly/researched article that deals with teaching critical skills.Several of you who are severely critical of George’s articles must know it takes balls to put your views on the line in public spaces. Especially when using your real name.

    How Critical Thinking Relates to Instructional Design

    Those who have the ability to hear, do not always actively listen. Similarly, those who have the ability to know, do not always critically think. The premise that critical thinking is to knowing as listening is to hearing implies that critical thinking is a learned skill that must be developed, practiced, and continually integrated into the curriculum to engage students in active learning. To support this premise, focused attention needs to be placed on the application of content, the process of learning, and methods of assessment.In terms of the application of content, teaching techniques that promote memorization (often temporary knowledge) do not support critical thinking. Although some content, such as vocabulary definitions, do require memory, it is

    the application of the content that stimulates thinking. Instruction that supports critical thinking uses questioning techniques that require students to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information to solve problems and make decisions (think) rather than merely to repeat information (memorize).


    Anither shithound minister of housing Dennis Kellman, ignoring and flouting the call by HIS government. ..fir a national shutdow,0n…the greedy pig did nit think he made enough money in the previous 48 hours.*hole. He also nees to be penalized.

    Alvin….deal with Barbados and what is OWED to YOUR BLACK PEOPLE.

    America’s karma is right around the corner.., America was also very implicit in moving slaves through Africa and trsnsporting them to Barvados and the Caribbean and then on to the US…their hands are also dirty. …..they trafficked in humans for centuries.

    Barbados was the transhipment point and clearing house for slavery and all its brutality. …the US owes the Caribbean people as well….all the majority black islands….the BLACK NATIONS.

  10. Alvin Cummings

    Sorry brother, you do not even understand the questions far less able to answer.


    Even your feeble attempts themselves contained marked contradictions.

    DuBois wrote three large books about these. Spent a whole life struggling with them and a small brain like you believe you can have something to say in a few line.

    Our posing them was merely rhetorical.

    You should read the 3 books first to get a clue.

  11. @chad99999 Re: “Governments only submit to the consent of the governed once every four or five years.”

    But that is exactly the point. There can be no stability or justice without the consent of the governed, but it does not guarantee stability or justice. It is a necessary but not sufficient condition. In terms of school governance it is only the beginning, but my point is that school governance based purely on arbitrary hierarchy fails inevitably and quickly.

    Thanks for the Grenada history.

  12. @ Pachamama

    Not only did Alvin not read the book(s), and neither did I, but he did not even spend the 49 minutes to view the video, to possibly glean “through a glass darkly”, what the Dr. Cornell West said.

    The inherent envy and avoidance of superior authorship, if we should be kind wnough to ascribe to Alvin such title of author.

    The more you “learn” Pachamama, the less you realise you know, until you realise the extent of your microscopic sentience in the infinite read how stupid and insignificant one is when compared with others (never however with Creator since that is impossible at worst and comedy at best)

  13. Yes Piece

    Alvin thinks that, in the popular Bajan way, name dropping could move us.

    That is an emotional response. We will never give in to that, fall for his narrow nonsense.

    Furthermore, we do not like any of these people he cites to replace the deepest intellectual discourses of the century. His is a disgrace.

  14. @Chad9 times 11111
    “My point is that Bishop was personally betrayed by the youth he mentored.”

    During the Grenadian Revolution, President Reagan was in a fit of frenzy, with wargames and war plans for that ‘po’ little island. It stands to reason that the CIA were frenetically hatching plans for the overthrow of Maurice Bishop. He was personally betrayed by a youth he mentored who (most likely) received 30 pieces of silver.

    One of the surprising things about the Grenadian Revolution was a great increase in the literacy rate. The common belief was that the communist wanted their people to be illiterate and here was tiny Grenada spreading information to its citizen.

  15. “Allard had argued that local authorities had failed to take environmental measures to protect the Christ Church nature sanctuary which he acquired, developed and marketed as a major tourist attraction until its closure in 2009. The outcome of the case was published yesterday.

    The tribunal, chaired by Australian Queen’s Counsel Gavan Griffith, ruled that Barbados had “prevailed on all merits issues”. Other members of the tribunal were academics Michael Reisman of the United States and Andrew Newcombe of Canada.

    Allard acquired the Graeme Hall swamp for use as a mangrove forest and migratory bird sanctuary in the 1990s, along with related eco-tourist infrastructure, for a total alleged cost of nearly US$26 million.

    The sanctuary opened to the public in 2004 but Allard closed it down five years later, alleging that environmental degradation had left it as “little more than a mosquito-infested swamp”.

    According to GAR, the tribunal, in its final award, found that Barbados had not breached any of its treaty obligations. The UN body also found that Allard had decided to create a nature reserve as early as 1994 and had continued with the project “irrespective, and not in reliance upon” any representations by Barbados.”

    Government ought to make it very clear to those local and foreign investors…that when they invest their money on the island…government should not be taking up taxpayer’s money to save their investments…just because…Allard should be paying 26 costs…arrogant idiot.

    ALL of them have this belief that when they invest in the island…taxpayer’s money is owed to them…this judgement by the Hague should dispel that myth once and for all..

  16. @Well Well,
    Allard’s real intention was to open a Water Park that would have been used as a tourist attraction, mainly, and for Bajans secondly. The government saw through his subterfuge and refused the required permission. Good for the government.
    You have a lot to learn, and as you so succinctly put it:”The more you “learn” Pachamama…others”. But it is not for me to “teach” you. I will let you fall on your own sword.

  17. Alvin…when the government is right, I will support them, they do not owe Allard anything, he was free to open his water park without taxpayer’s money,

    The sluice gate is another matter though…if it threatens the health of bajans.

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