Education: MORE REFORM

Submitted by Paula Sealy

There was notice of the formation of a 20-member National Advisory Committee on Water this month. Whether or not the composition of the Committee was disclosed, at least we know it is not a committee of one.

Barring the fact that its Director has been identified, who are the members of the Education Reform Unit? Is the new Unit a committee of one? 

Exactly how does the Unit propose to help provide for a more co-ordinated and effective system of education related to the needs of the people of Barbados?

Have terms of reference been formulated by the Unit? If so, precisely who would have drafted the terms? 

A team of one, ten or twenty? Who knows?

The Act addresses the “Central Administration” of education under Part 1. In Section 6 it speaks very specifically to the establishment of the National Advisory Commission on Education (NACE).

Has the NACE been replaced by the Unit? Is the Unit to do more than merely advise?

The Unit has already disclosed the planned introduction of a Lower 1st in the secondary school system. When I entered secondary school in the 1980s, I was surprised to learn of the presence of a Lower 1st back in the 1950s. The concept of Lower 1st is therefore not an innovation. 

A Lower 1st programme has also existed in at least one secondary school for at least twenty years. (Some of those students’ parents viewed it as an additional stigma their child could do without, as opposed to additional support, while the trained remedial personnel lack the resources and administrative support at time.)

With CXC results due to be released in late September or early October, Unit 1 students will commence CAPE studies later than before. Will there be any adjustments to the syllabus of the CAPE programmes for 2021/2022?

Will the local ministry, COHSOD and CXC wait until March 2022 to recognise problems affecting that cohort of CAPE candidates?

Will students who opt to defer be repeating the year physically in school or compelled to undertake “self study” as has been stated at staff meetings held at various secondary schools?

14 thoughts on “Education: MORE REFORM


    Acting Principal of the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College (ETTC), Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, speaking to attendees about the VEX 123, the VEX Go, the VEX IQ and the VEX V5 which are displayed in front of her.

    Erdiston conducts robotics demonstration

    Sat, 06/12/2021 – 6:00am

    Members of the Curriculum Committee got an opportunity recently to see first-hand the possibilities that exist with teaching coding and robotics in schools.

    This came through a robotics demonstration conducted by the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College (ETTC) at the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training. Director of the Education Reform Unit, Dr. Idamay Denny, was also on hand to answer any questions posed.

    The 14-member Committee comprises four ministry officials and ten educators from nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. The diverse group deals with the development of the curriculum in coding and robotics.

    Speaking to the media, Acting Principal of ETTC, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, indicated the robots – the VEX 123, the VEX Go, the VEX IQ and the VEX V5 – were the ones showcased on the day. The VEX 123 will be used at the nursery level and the VEX V5 will be used at the tertiary level.

    Meanwhile, Dr. Denny stated she was delighted to see the enthusiasm shown by the teachers and ministry officials in attendance at the session.

    “I was really pleased to see the enthusiasm and the interest of these teachers who will have to drive the programme in the schools and I am sure that when the children see that their teachers are so enthusiastic, that the enthusiasm is going to go over to them too.”

    She continued, “Therefore, it makes me happy that we have a group of teachers who are willing to give of their time … to help develop this curriculum, to make sure that the children can learn some skills that are going to allow them to become developers of technology.” (MG)

    Source: Barbados Advocate

  2. Some important questions about how we intend to chart a path to right how we educate our people. The blogmaster is not surprise it will avoid the attention of commenters. We love to comment on issues that are symptomatic of the root problem.

  3. Still won’t want any of those FRAUDS miseducating any family member of mine….given the new ways of educating the young to reality and prompting their skill levels to SOAR…

    mind you many teachers tried over the years, but the tools are never made available to them….the small minded won’t allow it..

  4. Our education system needs much more than a few robots. As a matter of fact we need to get rid of the robotic programming system that passed for education. We need to stimulate thought and stimulate creativity not merely cram in “facts”.

    Tinkering will not solve our problems. David, you think in terms of tinkering. I want to re-imagine.

  5. Education reform is a paradox.

    to reform education we have to reform our views and philosophies of education
    Then we have to reform the system of administration of education
    then we have to reform the administrators of education
    then we have to reform how education is administered

    Only then can we have real reform. After all the long talk for the last 20-25 years it is clear there is no political will or courage to truly reform education.

    oh yes, and while we are at it keep the bloody politics out of it.

    Just observing

  6. Education system revamp necessary
    I WATCHED AND LISTENED intently, as Dr Ian Marshall, a panellist in a discussion sponsored by the Barbados Union of Teachers in April, brilliantly presented his case for a total revamping of the education system, rather than tinkering with it as has been the customary approach.
    Dr Marshall rightly argued that abolishing the Common Entrance Exam without addressing the inequalities in the educational system will be counterproductive and will not produce the desired result. Sadly, this type of approach by our leaders of tinkering with but not overhauling archaic systems wherever they may be always comes back to haunt us.
    It is time to stop the stupidity of believing that because you come from a certain background you are any more entitled to resources in this country than someone else. As much as we like to pretend otherwise, we know that the system of colonialism still affects not only our schools but the entire society. When we examine the whole roll-out of the recent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can see the inequalities
    that are existential. Some players with more “pedigree” are allowed to have their way while others suffer the consequences of being who they are “without pedigree”.
    My heart aches for the many hotel workers who are being forced against their will to participate in a course of action that is not only questionable but may be against their philosophical and health beliefs. In this whole morass, workers are left stranded as the “bigger heads “in the trade union movement are either silent or are in descent into nonsensical political squabbles over leadership.
    This is the system of colonialism at work that needs to be addressed by a total revamp of the educational set-up, as Dr Marshall spoke about. Without a system where our young people can learn, reason and analyse rather than regurgitate ruling class propaganda, then we are going nowhere as a people and are nothing but fodder for imperialist, genocidal foes to do as they please.


  7. Teachers say no to summer school
    HUNDREDS OF TEACHERS responded to the Ministry of Education’s summer school proposal with a resounding “no” yesterday.
    Their disapproval was made clear during a Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) online meeting to discuss the suggested summer programme which the union said was set to take place between July and August.
    During the meeting more than 500 teachers voted against the proposal and their positions were reinforced by general secretary Herbert Gittens, and president Pedro Shepherd, who pointed out that teachers, students and ancillary staff were fatigued, and that if summer school were to take place it could clash with other activities at school such as much needed repairs.
    “I know at many schools teachers are classroom-bound from morning until evening and then from 2 p.m. until pick-up time. I know teachers are assisting monitors to help children maintain their distance. So, yes, teachers are giving a lot more under these trying conditions and if the ministry comes with any counter arguments, we have enough information and resources that we can make a case for our teachers and the efforts that were seen.
    Official letter
    “From March last year when COVID-19 came, teachers immediately went into training and I think we worked from April until June with very few breaks because whatever vacation we had, we had things to prepare for ourselves and our students. I think we have a strong case to push back against this and it is our intention to push back,” Shepherd said during the meeting.
    He added that they planned to release an official letter of rejection tomorrow in time for the Ministry of Education’s next meeting to discuss the matter.
    The ministry proposed the summer school programme to make up for the reduction in teaching time because of the COVID-19 pandemic and ash fall from La Soufriere in St Vincent in April.
    This school term is scheduled to end on July 9, but Class 4 students are set to take the Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination on July 28.
    The union said the proposal called for half-day sessions for Infants A to Class 1 students from July 12 to July 30, while Class 2 and 3 students were scheduled from August 9 to August 27.
    When contacted, acting Chief Education Officer Joy Adamson said she could not comment until the proposal was finalised.
    During the meeting president of the Barbados Secondary School Teachers Union Mary Anne Redman said teachers were legally required to work 38 weeks and she suggested that if teachers volunteered to work during the period, they should be paid extra.
    “I indicated to the chief that any of this work would require for the teachers who are willing to do so extra pay for that time frame, and it would have to be done within a context of an extended summer holiday. They indicated that they would take both those proposals back to the Minister of Education,” Redman said.
    However, several primary school teachers said they were not interested and that money could not compensate for their and the students’ mental health challenges.
    “We have noticed that in dealing with the students who came back in, we had less time. We had to deal with more emotional issues more than anything else, so I am not sure what
    we are coming back from at the end of the day. And there still has not been enough resources allocated to teachers who happen to be going through a lot of the same challenges this process has brought on us,” one woman said.
    Another teacher said although they were trying to make up for lost teaching time, those weeks [of summer school] would not be significant.
    “We’ve lost all of this time, what do they intend for us to achieve in three weeks? I am a Class 4 teacher. The children, parents, teachers, the ancillary staff are tired. You are trying to bounce back but it appears that we are trying to flatten everybody. But you cannot fill an empty cup. I am in agreement, it is no to summer school, absolutely not.”

    Source: Nation

  8. @12:32
    Excellent post.

    It appears that we are getting some things right and making progress in some areas.

  9. Don’t budge!

    That’s the advice BUT is giving teachers on summer school
    That is the advice the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) is giving its members in light of the Ministry of Education’s decision to proceed with its summer school programme on a volunteer basis.
    BUT president Pedro Shepherd told the DAILY NATION yesterday that the ministry decided the summer school programme would proceed despite protestations from teachers and principals.
    “Teachers just need to stand their ground,” he said. “If teachers don’t want to be part of a summer programme, then don’t be part of a summer programme, whether it is mandatory or voluntary.”
    Chief Education Officer Joy Adamson had previously indicated that the summer school was conceptualised to make up for the reduction in teaching time due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ash fall from the April 9 eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
    However, several teachers and principals, as well as ancillary staff, rejected it, pointing out that they were suffering from fatigue.
    Yesterday, the BUT informed its members by email that the general secretary attended a meeting last Friday with the ministry’s Bounce Back committee as well as representatives from
    the Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools, the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union and the Association of Public Primary School Principals, who each made submissions about the proposed summer school.
    The email noted: “It is important to note that all of the unions rejected the summer school proposal. However, the Chief Education Officer indicated that summer school was a go.
    “The meeting was also informed that the summer school will be voluntary and that forms will be sent to the schools for those who are willing to participate.”
    Union firm
    It added: “The BUT remains firm in the position of the membership at its most recent meeting on Wednesday, 16th June 2021.”
    Shepherd said teachers, as well as principals, had given various reasons why summer school should not be on the agenda.
    “When we met, people said they were tired and that their health and their mental health was in question. They said the students are tired and the parents are tired; it would shorten their vacation period; it would change their terms and conditions of service. So whether the ministry says mandatory or voluntary, hold your position. Do not change.”
    Pointing out that the executive of the BUT would also not change its position, Shepherd warned teachers: “Do not allow the ministry to set any precedent.”
    Yesterday several teachers told the DAILY NATION they were upset that once again the ministry had refused to take their input into account.
    “Recently I have noticed that the ministry has been asking the unions as well as teachers to get involved in discussions pertaining to various aspects of education, mainly to get our opinions. However, why should you have a discussion if you are never going to take into account what is being said by the other side?” a senior teacher asked.
    “The ministry has rejected every proposal made by the unions on our behalf since the onset of COVID. In this case, they are not even being sensitive to all the frustrations that teachers had with the online teaching process, which has obviously led to burnout. To ask teachers to participate in a summer programme shows a lack of consideration for our health and well-being,” he said.
    Efforts to reach Adamson yesterday for a comment were unsuccessful.

    Source: Nation

  10. The MoE needs to understand that the year has been lost. There is no making up for it. It has been lost and that is that!

    Shit happens! LIFE happens. Our timetable is OURS and OURS ALONE.

    Father Time takes his orders from Mother Nature.

    Mother Nature has her own timetable. Mother Nature does not bow to puny human beings. The world does not revolve around human beings.

    Human beings must learn fit into the universe.

    Here endeth the lesson.

  11. Scrapping 11-Plus alone ‘won’t better education system’

    ABOLISHING THE Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE) alone will not be enough to improve the education system.
    And although retired principal Alwin Adams believes that form of assessment should be removed, he said more must be done to ensure technical subjects are given more prestige and that boys are not left behind at primary schools.
    Adams spoke to the MIDWEEK NATION on Sunday following the signing of Notes Of A Native Governor General – The Memoirs Of Sir Elliott Belgrave
    at St Philip-the-Less Anglican Church, Boscobel, St Peter.
    The former principal of St Leonard’s Boys’ Secondary School and Coleridge & Parry is the author of the book.
    Adams described the BSSEE, commonly called the 11-Plus, as a colonial feature, which he said was ironically abolished in Britain.
    “It was abolished in the 1960s because they concluded that if they kept that system, they could not keep pace with the other industrial countries, because up to then they only had about five per cent of the population in tertiary education. So they abolished that system and brought in a more democratic system, and the rest is history.
    “So we kept on to a system that was given to us and it might have functioned reasonably well when we were just an agricultural society but the society cannot maintain its economic thrust if the system continues. It is highly academic, and in a technologically skilled world, a lot of the things that were not deemed to be educational are,” Adams said.
    He referenced a study carried out by late businessman Sir Douglas Lynch in the 1980s, which highlighted that more than four out of every ten boys could not reasonably read and write at 11. Adams added that if the same approach continued there would be no improvements.
    “The problem is not a modern problem. It is a persistent problem and it will continue unless meaningful reform is done. It needs to be abolished, but just abolishing it would not be very meaningful; it must be accompanied by a range of educational and social measures.”
    In addition, he said more attention had to be paid to boys, particularly by positive male figures at co-educational schools if they are to overcome some of their disadvantages.
    ‘At a disadvantage’
    “Boys are at a disadvantage in a co-ed setting a nd because language dominates at any school and boys are behind in the development of language, it means that they would not be on par with the girls. And unless you compensate for that, by the time the children who are in co-ed get to 11, many boys are behind by two years and that is the reason why the marks are different and nothing in Barbados has been done to compensate for that.
    “What they have done is give the boys a lower threshold to go into a school than a girl, but that does not compensate for the trauma the boys were going through for the five or seven years in primary school. Then when boys go into secondary school, they get worse; they are not catching up,” he added.
    Adams said that the boys’ early childhood setbacks continued when they entered work.
    “If you check Barbados now, you would find that in law, medicine, accounting, men are far behind in Barbados and that has redounded to the detriment of the economic development, [which] is tied to the efficiencies in the education system, and you need to . . . [have] industrial education on par.
    “For example, when workshops such as woodwork and metalwork came to our schools, they were resisted by education authorities and the marks were not included in the children’s average. As a result of that, it was deemed that industrial education was for ‘foolish’
    students when in fact it was the basis of where the economic development of the country was going,” Adams said. (TG)

    Source: Nation

Leave a comment, join the discussion.