Education Reform a Must

Lost amid the noise of a struggling economy, navigating a pandemic and more recent ash fall from La Soufrière is the decision by the government to create the Education Reform Unit headed by Dr. Idamay Denny.

For many years commentators have been pleading with successive governments the urgent need to transform how we educate our citizens to ensure Barbados ride the crest of innovation in order to sustain global competitiveness. Increasingly the emergence of technology and other innovative approaches to create and distribute products and services demand we change how we prep our citizens.

The Education Reform Unit‘s mandate it has been reported is to formulate, implement, monitor and evaluate reform initiatives aimed at transforming the education sector. Lest we forget transforming the education system is listed in the 2018 Barbados Labour Party Manifesto. Unfortunately there is not much to be heard from the political and non governmental opposition besides the usual noise. In fairness to them the citizenry is blinkered and therefore divided on the issue of eduction reform. We content ourselves with debating if to discontinue the 11+.

Critics will argue several studies have been produced, why is it necessary to create a project unit. Others may suggest trying to create change from studies whose shelf life has expired is an exercise in futility. What the blogmaster accepts is that change is constant and change we must if we desire to remain comfortably in the saddle.

Covid 19 has further exposed the dysfunction in local operating and business models. The time is overdue to build consensus on educate our people to drive the change required to sustain ourselves. All of the changes we rail about daily will not happen by accident. The perquisite to change movement has to be triggered by thought leadership. We must create a culture in the country that is about fuelling ideas, fuelling knowledge capital and then executing the delivery of tasks to achieve a national objective that feeds our capacity to be globally competitive in order to comfortably support ourselves.

Items like teaching coding and robotics should have been integrated in the school curriculum a long time ago. When BU attempted to discuss the role digital currencies, cybersecurity and non traditional approaches to doing business in Barbados we solicited noise from the usual suspects. This is the global trending, we have no choice albeit late in the day to educated our citizens to ensure we are not left further behind.

The blogmaster extends best wishes to the success of the Education Reform Unit albeit.

110 comments

  • William Skinner

    “Douglass” not Douglas

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  • William Skinner,

    Exactly!

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  • @William

    A reasonable comment. The Minister advised recently the 11 plus is being evaluated. With the setup of the Education Unit headed by Denny we are hopeful about seeing some structural changes soon. We have to change how we educated our people to fit in to the global market.

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  • William Skinner

    @ Donna
    I really don’t know if our people have ever not fit into to the global market. I am still not seeing globalism in the way many of us do.
    My entire thesis is to educate our people to make our country the best it can be. We used to talk about something being first class , nowI am hearing about first world.. We must be a first class country and meeting our immediate socio economic interest rather than being a first world country and paying people starvation wages and an absence of a proper water service or jumping through hoops to pay /renew a drivers license.
    That said , it is education that has driven the progress of the country up to about the mid seventies. That system worked because of the 1962 free education policy and the coming of the UWI.
    We are struggling because the country has been on automatic pilot ever since.
    Since 1976 , the political culture of the island changed dramatically, that is why even today, we have jokers talking about who gine win the next election due in 2023.
    We have spent more on education than most counties when we look at our resources. The question is whether the country has been adequately or fully rewarded for this massive expenditure.
    In terms of recent developments, to which you alluded, I am not that optimistic because the selection of the person/s to carry the baton is once more based on party politics. But that’s a story within itself.
    I am still grappling with how a minister of education could have announced the abolishment of the current eleven plus without a single clear answer about how it would be replaced.
    But we live in hope.

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  • @William

    And the point you keep missing is that the opportunity for Barbados to be the best is linked to the ability/capacity of the island to compete especially if you want to satisfy the consumer/capital needs of the country and the fact the domestic market will never be able to satisfy excess labour. If we do not cater to this then it brings social issues that come at a cost. We are witnessing this now

    Bear in mind we have to make decisions based on the current state and not where we were in th 70s when the opportunity to pivot would have easier. For example Tom Adams led a shift from agrarian to a mixed economyread services etc because it is where the opportunities presented. This is a process that is never ending.

    It is about vision, planning and execution which is underpinned by good leadership.

    #holistic

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  • William Skinner

    @ David
    You need to read properly . What are you saying that I am not saying ? I said specifically that the system worked up to the seventies.
    You keep talking about competing globally . Don’t you realise we have always competed globally. Do you think the tourists come from Black Rock.
    The reason we are stuck is that we get caught up in intellectual jargon as if that is the be all and end all.
    You jokers keep getting in lecture mode as if you alone understand what globalization means.
    We are being hindered from further development because you cannot produce a 2021 product on a 1921 production line.
    Next time read what I write and not what you think I write. Barbados has been competing globally before you were born. The Millers were sending tamarind to India before you were born.
    I don’t have the time for pseudo intellectual BS.
    All this BS while the Indians and other minority groups going straight to the bank everyday .
    Take your frigging head out of the cliche clouds and come back to earth.
    I ain’t missing no point. I am just with trying to put my grandchildren in the drivers seat: locally, regionally and internationally.
    Throw the damn cliches on the dump and look around you. Quite frankly , your own backyard smacks of the same colonialist attitude that we are to be guided by some global domination.
    I just want right now a proper distribution of water on rural Barbados.
    Gimme a frigging break.

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  • @William

    In the 70s and to some degree 80s we benefited from linkages with the UK as it relates to tourism and the other shelters and preferential trade arrangements. We have been exposed in the so-called globalization construct.

    We benefited in the international services arena from taxation arrangements with Canada especially which have disappeared. This is not exhaustive.

    Managing any economy in a today economy is a tricky business and at the cusp of it is expert and decisive leadership. What we have been having is a bandaid approach. No one person will have the answers but what is clear is that we have not been extracting a high rate of return from our knowledge capital.

    You need to chill William.

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  • William Skinner

    @ David
    It is ok to say we have not been “ extracting” enough. We cannot exclude the brain drain that has not really stopped. A cardinal error was to give all and sundry a “ free” education and then they left without even paying student loans. I hope you note that it’s only a matter of time before free university education is discontinued.
    We have educated people to literally undermine the country. We have academics here who are certainly selling their brains to the highest political bidder. Therefore the country does not benefit in real terms. They are intellectual mercenaries.
    Then, people like you constantly give the private sector a pass . I hope you note the kind of renumeration Sagicor pays its top dogs. Who built Sagicor ? This is a company that in its earliest days refused to insure Black people.( check today’s nation)
    We can sign any agreement/ protocol; we can parade on international media and we can pretend that we are on the world stage but the well-being of our citizens must reflect the taxes we pay ! Simple as that. We have diplomats and semi diplomats all over the world. But this very morning a cousin of mine was told that the company can’t pay the minimum wage and he is now unemployed. To which treaty or agreement is he going to appeal.
    We have to start taking care of business or we going to end up in the shark guts.

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  • @William

    There will always be a drain because our labour market cannot satisfy all the demand whether transactional i.e. to pay bills or actualization by pursuing personal interest. It is a balance that will challenge SIDs until end times.

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  • The soldier/scholar Sir John Glubb discussed the positive and negative impacts of education in his essay ‘Decline of Empires’. It is worth a read as the use and abuse of education is historical in the way it is viewed and applied.
    I cannot speak for other countries, however, in Australia it is a problem that core subjects are poorly taught by poorly educated teachers. Without a good grounding in the basics higher education becomes problematic.
    To illustrate this I taught my son to write basic code (html, html5, css) to build offline web pages as a contest of sorts. His largest errors were in spelling rather than anything else. I learnt to write code in a limited sense back when computers were not shell programs and rather just a blinking cursor on a screen with the computer waiting for you to tell it what to do in basic language. Fortunately I didn’t have to use the punch card type of programming.
    Education is more about being able to discuss and build new ideas and thought rather than just accepting and agreeing on what you are told. Education is more than just a means to an end to create wealth, something that is somewhat lost in todays world.

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