The George Brathwaite Column – Scaling High Bars

barbados scholarship winners.png

Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results.

I begin this article by congratulating the 2018 Barbados scholarship and exhibition winners. The bar was set very high and the tasks before these 55 studious youth were challenging, yet they accomplished through sacrifice and determination. These teenagers clearly demonstrated that discipline is an essential ingredient for clearing the tallest hurdles and ultimately reaping success. Indeed, it was their aplomb, dedication, and the commitment to strive for excellence that they engendered habit-forming traits and created new personal norms for themselves. The sterling achievements of these winners are likely to be influential for the next set of students who will see their success as moments of inspiration.

For the older observers within the Barbadian society, you now have a group of young people that can be emulated. These scholarship and exhibition winners have essentially shared with the public, lessons for being able to face challenges head-on, while reaching standards of excellence and winning! Their full potential and rewards may remain unknown for years to come, but in the interim, they have built reservoirs of self-confidence that will help them wade through other challenges which shall no doubt emerge. Hence, I encourage all Barbadians – young and matured – to draw on the pride and industry that goes into ‘building the best Barbados together’. Particularly, I invite the Government of Barbados to take comfort in the view that the aims of the nation must be set sufficiently high as to bring out the best in our people.

The public is listening and watching. Instructively, it is with both hope and caution that there is a sense that the relatively new Barbados Government, under the leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister Mia Mottley, commits to the task of attaining high standards of governance in every meaningful endeavour. Surely, the Barbados Government has a special role to play in setting and achieving high standards of excellence. This means bringing about positive transformation in the public sector and in the society. It means engaging the society to reach optimal levels of governance, if the Barbados nation is to claim success. As Bonnie Blair a former USA speed skater once said, “winning doesn’t always mean being first. Winning means you’re doing better than you’ve ever done before.” So that with every stroke of a new initiative, with every formula for attaining growth and national development, Barbados must work towards being better than the previous day or period.

Equally crucial, the Government as a guarantor of public values, must endeavour to inspire, encourage, and facilitate the types of feats that transform and empower lives for the better. Much is expected from those with a legitimate mandate to set policy, pursue programmes, and meet performance goals. Government must set the benchmark whereby, the citizens as well as businesses and non-governmental organizations are given ample opportunity to improve. Central to personal and national improvement is increased civic participation combined with active involvement of our youth. From generation to generation, Barbadians must strive to become important public problem-solvers and national winners. The 55 students proved that high bars can create the zest in a nation for success.

Therefore, a crucial point of continuation for the Mottley-led administration now that the vision has been laid out, goals set, and standards elevated, must be the direct shift away from complacency. The governing and the governed must move towards embracing positives and creating the atmosphere in which valued norms, uplifting attitudes, and desirable actions are common rather than one-off experiences. Barbados’ entire governance framework must go beyond mere legislation and begin to formulate and shape agendas for national success. As demonstrated by the scholarship and exhibition winners, acts of behaviour must be tightly entwined to the desired outcomes. This simply means that the society should repeatedly do positive habit-forming things so that they too can carve winning paths regardless of the challenges.

The national consciousness in Barbados must be shepherded to attain and surpass standards of excellence in all our procedures and practices. Also, the mechanisms that are geared for success ought to be conducive for fostering national integrity. In other words, the Barbados Government apparatus must be strong and nurtured by a culture of truth, courage, and ethical behaviour in and outside the parameters of the Government. High standards and national goals are straddled when we ensure that integrity matters in shaping the national character of Barbados. Integrity comes alongside other attributes such as confidence and persistence in nation-building. Certainly, it matters what becomes engrained as a national culture in the pursuit of excellence.

There are also the elements of efficiency, accountability and effectiveness that must be consistently visible in governmental performances and actions. Government must be the example-setter and, the standards that are set for the governed, should be more than political optics. The governance framework must translate the ambitions of a nation wherein everyone can realise his or her responsibility for contributing to national development. The distinguished economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that “government is supposed to act in the interests of citizens.” Leadership in the Barbados Government must be sufficiently determined to work assiduously so that the peoples’ expectations are reasonably met.

The successful scholarship and exhibition winners demonstrated their inclination for multi-tasking while keeping their eyes on the coveted prize of goal-attainment. Despite the standards were high and required effort and commitment, it was by using their diverse methods, compromising with friends, appreciating the support of parents and guardians which sealed their eventual triumph. Surely, the standards of excellence that the Barbados nation wants to achieve must be reachable and not left to dither or become elusive due to indifference and ill-discipline. Decisiveness, timeliness, and technological advance can make positive differences to anticipated outcomes.

Again, the scholarship and exhibition winners have stories to share that can inspire many to reach for personal and national success. On the ball is the Minister of Education, Miss Santia Bradshaw who noted that “the numbers, while they are increasing,” indicate that “the students are working hard. They have something to work towards.” Hence, the power of the Barbados Government and how the Cabinet utilises its distributive and incentive tools should augur well for national development.

In fact, Miss Bradshaw in speaking for her Cabinet colleagues and bearing in mind possible increases associated with scholarship and exhibition winners, advised that they are “prepared to make allowances for the increases because we recognise the importance of education to development of the country.” I would argue that the Mia Mottley-led Cabinet has zeroed in on the importance of investing in the nation’s youth and for allowing opportunity to meet ambition. There is now a purposeful effort to reclaim the lost ground that was ceded in the last decade. The winning students showed that aptitude is key for scaling high bars.

Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant and former lecturer in Political Science. Email:


  • Dr. GP did not call out the Female Demons of BU… I would not be so Lenient!

    Matthew 12:36 King James Version (KJV)

    But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.


  • @Tron August 14, 2018 10:11 AM “In other words, the local education is the root of the whole desaster. Just look at Simpson, Baloney, COW, Bizzy and Jerkham. They might lack the formal “education”

    You know that all these men were educated at the elementary, secondary and college level by Bajan civil servants don’t you? And so were/are their children and grandchildren. These men are not men from Mars. They are Bajans.

    Bajan civil servants take care of them from the cradle to the grave, from midwives delivering their babies to registering their births, to registering their deaths, from teaching them their ABC’s, to teaching them their PHD’s (if they wish), and everything in between. I don’t know where you get the idea that they are self-made men.

    The myth of the self made strong white male.


    Big joke.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    Self made crooks, that’s the only thing any of them ever did on their own.


  • @Simple Simon August 15, 2018 4:34 PM

    Misunderstanding. COW, Baloney et al are not successfull BECAUSE they had some formal education but for their ruthlesness and ability to undermine and to exploit the Barbadian welfare state. This socialist welfare state does not only nourish too many civil servants but especially too many so-called magnates who beg for concessions, NIS-ATM and gov contracts to enrich themselves.

    If the rest of the Barbadians want to compete with the other Caribbean islands for tourists and offshore business, they must forget all formal education and apply ruthless tactis – like COW et al in Barbados itself.


  • The miller feller responds with several non-stupid and non-tedious remarks on August 15, 2018 at 9:23 in the morning, and the remarks are close to excellent relative to the vast bulk of comments on this blog. Everything is relative.

    Here’s the miller feller:

    “So Little John, you want to find out how to calculate the ROI from studying [Bajan] history?”

    No, I don’t. You misread and misunderstood me, on purpose or not. I want to know, as is obvious from my post, how you calculate an ROI on a Bajan student who decides to study history at UWI and then does so. I’m curious as to how you even begin to calculate an ROI on that.

    What were your variables in the probit regression? What does the equation look like, is what I mean. It’s a fair question in response to a comment about ROI. Do you prefer the lasso [sic] or ridge approach in controlling for counterintuitive biases?

    Or is it all just: “I think this”? There are opinions, miller feller, and then there are informed opinions. People who spend more time with books than with Facebook tend to have the latter.

    Withal, though. After I’d hacked my way through the attention-distracting and wearying forest of your non-stupid remarks, I finally saw the trees:

    “The Cave Hill Campus can exist only through massive subsidies from the Bajan taxpayers’ purse.”

    Irrefutably true.

    And the massive subsidies from the Bajan taxpayers’ purse are only possible because what would otherwise be a chasm in the national budget is being filled by poor taxpayers in countries characterized by tedious tools on this very blog as albinos.

    “Learnt” is a tell, by the way, as is your redundant use of inverted commas. You should watch that.


  • Without a Doubt any One of those people you constantly demonize have paid much more in Taxes to the Socialist State than the three of you put together has ever done at any given time in your Existence!

    Ever heard of the Commandment “Thou shalt Not Envy”.


  • Freedom Crier … for the love of god: Foxtrot Oscar.


  • For the Love that I have for God I would not tell you to go Foxtrot Oscar yourself!


  • This is for you Who Envy and your Little Band of Socialist Haters.


  • Good name for a rock band, that: The Little Band of Socialist Haters.

    Che on drums, Fidel on lead guitar, Mao on bass, Pol Pot on keyboards. And, of course, Vicente Maduro the singer. Could fill stadiums with that.

    Christ, you are such a tool.


  • Jack Archer August 15, 2018 6:56 PM “Christ, you are such a tool”.

    Jan Turn to Jack now…Are you two different people?…

    Better be a Tool for Christ than a Slave for Satan!


  • @Jan Archef
    ” probit regression?lasso [sic] or ridge approach ”
    Strange buzz words.
    Most would mention regression and that’s it..
    But you are a little deeper.
    Is this your bread and butter area?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Anyone who wishes to purchase Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE) past papers may do so at the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Constitution Road, St Michael.(Quote)

    A classic example of a failed society, asking parents to pay for knowledge. Why can’t these past papers be put on a website and be downloaded free of cost by interested parties?
    Santia must stand up to the jobsworth civil servants pushing through these nonsensical policies.


  • Post not going through?


  • I attempted to post a comment with a link but it does not seem to get through. However it is to be noted that the Guyana Ministry of Education can issue a report to the public on the performance of students in that country in CXC exams but in Barbados a similar report never sees the light of day.


  • Went to Spam Ping Pong, it happens sometimes.


  • This BLP government has been preaching about new a governance and all the related buzz words that sound pretty on a political form. Let us see if it will be business as usual. Mary Redman seems to be of the view that there is a new and tone to the voice coming from the MoE these days. We wait!


  • David
    I understand. The Minister of Education is fascinated with the internet and streaming announcements on YouTube and Facebook. She is not so fascinated on statistical analysis of performances and making the results of such analyses available to the public. She does not seem so fascinated with using such analyses to inform policy and actions in pursuit of real measured improvements in educational attainments. We are becoming a nation characterized by puerility.


  • @Ping Pong

    An your view as to why successive MOEs are married to a position of not sharing the statistical analysis? The assumption is that statistical analysis is being done of course.


  • Do teachers in Guyana refuse to correct SBAs?
    Do teachers in Guyana fail to cover course content in the classroom causing students to pay for lessons or fail?
    Do teachers in Guyana needlessly disrupt school operations reducing classroom time?
    Or are teachers in Guyana working to improve their children and country?


  • Why not also ask from which class teachers teach CSEC in Guyana as one example.


  • I have no evidence that statistical analyses are being done by the Barbados Ministry of Education. It is my suspicion that the Ministry is incapable of doing any study beyond a shallow percentage pass/ fail report.


  • @Ping Pong

    If your 8:55AM comment is correct can we agree to ascribe Bushie’s anticipated response read, ‘the dog dead?’

    Seriously, how difficult can it be for the ministry of education to co-opt the support of CXC member countries to submitted a request to CXC to run comparative data analysis to support in-country strategic planning? There would be analysis for public sharing and high level to inform planning etc.


  • Ping Pong
    August 18, 2018 8:55 AM

    I have no evidence that statistical analyses are being done by the Barbados Ministry of Education. It is my suspicion that the Ministry is incapable of doing any study beyond a shallow percentage pass/ fail report.


    Very few in Barbados can get mathematics done!!

    Statistics … lord have mercy … you want to kill somebody!!


  • David
    so close down the Ministry of Education and outsource the management of our educational activities to CXC? Interesting.


  • @Ping Pong

    Mia is big on CSME and the regional common space. CXC has a regional foot print, it stores all the data and knowledge capital flow, would it not be more efficient to harmonize on an approach to optimally leverage this entity? Just saying.


  • @ Ping Pong
    so close down the Ministry of Education and outsource the management of our educational activities to CXC? Interesting.
    If you could check back to early BU days, you will find that Bushie identified this step as the VERY FIRST thing needed to fix education in Barbados.
    There was the proviso that a single telephone operator be retained …to refer all calls to the various school principals….
    (who would then need to revert to the quality of people like Tank, the Majors (Noot and Barker) etc…


  • It is amazing that the Barbados government has awarded a Barbados scholarship to a Barbadian living in Jamaica.


  • After 6 or 7 years of primary schooling, some boys need to attend a reading clinic. Did anyone note what was happening to these boys as they went through school?


  • @Ping Pong

    When I was at school they were labelled “duncy” and were placed in a special class, now we know that children can be dyslexic for starters or face other challenges. Let’s hope that these boys were subjected to a full series of tests for learning disabilities before they reached the stage of someone calling for the reopening of a specialized school…


  • Minister Santia Bradshaw reveals she has breast cancer and will take a short leave of absence.


  • Really, truly sorry to hear this. She is so young. I wish her well.


  • @Ping Pong
    Mia is big on CSME and the regional common space. CXC has a regional foot print, it stores all the data and knowledge capital flow, would it not be more efficient to harmonize on an approach to optimally leverage this entity? Just saying.(Quote)

    What does this mean in plain English?


  • Sorry to hear of Ms. Bradshaw’s illness, hope she has a speedy recovery.


  • oh no!!!!

    I am very sorry to hear that about Santia Bradshaw and really wish her all the best.Her father must be distraught.

    This coming at a time when she has worked so hard to get where she has.

    Speedy recovery to you.


  • I wish the very best for Ms Bradshaw. The road ahead for her will not be without discomfort but a successful outcome is not only possible but likely. I believe that once she completely follows the advice of her doctors, maintains a positive mental outlook, is assisted in her daily routines by cheerful family and friends and stays away from quackery then she will enjoy many years ahead of good health.


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