Solutions for Employment -The Educational Component

Submitted by William Skinner

Quite recently a friend alerted me to the fact that the introduction of Junior Colleges, formed a recommendation that I sent to the Task Force on Employment in 1987. My presentation was: Solutions for Employment -The Educational Component. In that paper, I recommended the extension of the primary school by two years and then transfer to the Junior Colleges.

Here is what I stated in 1987:

The Proposed Junior College(s)

Abolishing the Common Entrance examination will mean abolishing the Secondary School. The Secondary Schools feed off the primary schools. The secondary school, as they are presently designed, are great purveyors of unemployment.

The immediate effect will be reduced numbers of sixteen and seventeen years old on the job market. There are too many, sixteen, seventeen and eighteen years old on the unemployment list.

At Junior College, students will be exposed to professional counselling. Constant guidance in careers and and good citizenship will be stressed. Counselling must be honest and practical. Students would have spent ten years developing interests in many areas therefore counselling will supplement rather than retard them. Counsellors will be aware of the job market and must be able to explain how it changes and adjusts to innovative technology, social and political development. Students’ attributes along with known abilities, supplied by primary school records and data, will assist both students and counsellors in arriving at practical solutions.

The curricula, at the proposed Junior College, will supplement, modify, and expand that of the primary school. The present policy of taking twelve-years-old and throwing them into a frustrating pro-academic program, would have been eliminated by the abolition of the Common Entrance Examination.

Junior colleges will be effectively zoned, to allow students to reach college, with minimum difficulty. Teaching staff will be re-oriented, to perfect a balance of technical and academic, rather than the lop-sided academic which is now in use.

This must not be seen as an attempt to downgrade academic achievement, but observation reveals that all present school plants-primary and secondary are pro-academic, which creates an extremely poor picture of what technical staff can achieve. Those students, who are already academically brilliant, would have been previously identified, and would be placed into academically oriented programs, to develop their talent.

Junior college will be environmentally based and subjects such as: energy, transport, hospitality, agriculture, horticulture, botany, tropical architecture, health care, woodwork, fisheries, consumerism, communication, journalism will be given preference.

Finally, any progressive reform of the educational System must include a number of new institutions:

  • National College of Environmental Studies
  • National Sports College of Excellence
  • National Creative Excellence College
  • National College of African and Black Studies
  • National Junior Agricultural College (ages 15-18)

I have only submitted this because I was alerted that a recommendation, I made back in 1987 is now apparently being considered.

33 comments

  • @William
    “I was alerted that a recommendation, I made back in 1987 is now apparently being considered.
    And that’s exactly why it will fail.

    Trying to enforce 35 years ago thinking on today’s system without contemporary input and acknowledgment of a changed country, changed society, change mores, changed values and changed demographics will lead to huff, puff, bluster and much blunder.

    Those in “power” that claim to know it all can carry on smartly.

    Like

  • There was a brief thread about Bajan IT called Global Barbados Launch which the boogmaster made an executive decision to withdraw immediately.

    I was just about to add the following musing, meditation, thinking, contemplation, deliberation, pondering, reflection, rumination, cogitation, introspection, daydreaming, abstraction

    In theory an app can be developed that needs no human interaction but can generate a continuous income stream 24/7/365 globally for a simple product

    Like

  • Shit is deep..

    Microcosmic Orbit Meditation & Chi Kung

    Like

  • Mindfulness Meditation
    Seated Qigong and Guided Meditation

    Like

  • Golden Rule
    Imminent Will
    Imminent Fate
    One or Two Wise Bu BBB BBs said BBEs World will imminently end
    So why worry about school where they teach you to be a fool
    You may as well become a Rude Boy and listen to

    Rock A Shacka Vol. 16 – Orange Street Special (Fabulous Songs Of Miss Sonia E. Pottinger Vol. 2)

    Description
    Tracklist
    1 –Bobby Aitken And The Carib Beats* Orange Street Special
    2 –Lloyd And Glen* Rudies Give Up
    3 –The Cables Fast Mouth
    4 –The Valentines (3) Stop The Violence
    5 –The Originators (4) Hot Iron
    6 –Rhythm Bop Move Up
    7 –Junior Soul (2) Miss Cushie
    8 –Bobby Aitken And The Carib Beats* Scaramouche
    9 –Johnny And The Attractions* Let’s Get Together
    10 –The Conquerers* Come Let Us Dance
    11 –Eric Morris* Play It Cool
    12 –The Hippy Boys Seven Heaven
    13 –The Originators (4) Watch Yourself
    14 –The Cables How Do You Think I Feel
    15 –Johnny And The Attractions* Cross My Heart

    Jah Jah Know
    Praise Jah
    Selah

    Like

  • @Observing

    Could be they are adhering to the adage better late then never.

    #holdingonesheadandbawlin

    Like

  • African Online Publishing Copyright ⓒ 2022. All Rights Reserved

    “At Junior College, students will be exposed to professional counselling. Constant guidance in careers and and good citizenship will be stressed. Counselling must be honest and practical. Students would have spent ten years developing interests in many areas therefore counselling will supplement rather than retard them. Counsellors will be aware of the job market and must be able to explain how it changes and adjusts to innovative technology, social and political development. Students’ attributes along with known abilities, supplied by primary school records and data, will assist both students and counsellors in arriving at practical solutions.”

    for sure, this one never gets old, it’s applied across the world in more advanced countries…consistently, with upgrades to meet changes…

    Like

  • Notes on Nationalism
    by George Orwell

    Nationalism Vs Patriotism
    By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly ­– and this is much more important – I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

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  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Observing and @David… surely that’s a negative perspective (and tongue in cheek, I realize) but realistically the positives are many.

    @Observing (and to @Skinner) the statement “I was alerted that a recommendation, I made back in 1987 is now apparently being considered.” is a bit of self congratulations and that is absolutely understood!

    If the attempt to overhaul our system fails it certainly will not be because of @Skinner’s 35 year old recommendations because 1) his perspectives were not unique then and 2) the body of data around that and various other models is too broad now. Failure should not even be in the lexicon of contemplation.

    By 1987 I am sure @Skinner had been exposed to a breadth of reading and influences that informed his recommendations which of course he tailored to fit our society…. surely we can imagine that since (and before then) others did the same. Surely the succession of MS or PhD level folks formally – to Mr. Skinner’s perhaps less formal but as learned data expositions – have expounded on education in Bim (and I say that because I have a few friends well who have done exactly that).

    Thus, that’s exactly why his recommendations from back then should SUCCEED … they will be updated, clearly defined and refined and implemented based on practical best practices fit for purpose in Bim.

    Well at least that’s what SHOULD happen!!

    Lata.

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  • ‘What I have most wanted to do… is to make political writing into an art’

    longeur,

    a boring part of something, especially a book, film, etc.:

    This paragraph should be read before the previous one that I wrote

    Somewhere or other Byron makes use of the French word longeur, and remarks in passing that though in England we happen not to have the word, we have the thing in considerable profusion. In the same way, there is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name. As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word ‘nationalism’, but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation – that is, a single race or a geographical area. It can attach itself to a church or a class, or it may work in a merely negative sense, against something or other and without the need for any positive object of loyalty.

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  • What will it take for Bajans to REALIZE that our leaders are just as CLUELESS and blind as the rest of us…?
    Wunna know that an idiot is a fella who can take EVEN THE BEST IDEA in the whole world – and make it useless.?

    For example …
    You can be BLESSED with the BEST Cotton/sugar/rum/molasses/climate that there is ANYWHERE…- and it don’t mean a shiite

    You can be blessed with the ABSOLUTE best geographical location and topographical landscape ANYWHERE … and end up in desperate DEBT

    You can start with possibly the VERY BEST Education System on EARTH in 1965 – and be scrambling with basic literacy in 2020

    This all takes IDIOTIC genius (AKA Brass Bowlery) …. an area where we continue to EXCEL in Buhbadus.

    …and ALL this because we are too ‘PROUD’ to recognize that we are really God’s people, who are trying to be like the naturally selfish and self-centered ….

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  • “Wunna know that an idiot is a fella who can take EVEN THE BEST IDEA in the whole world – and make it useless.?”

    One chap took the concept of Liberation and trashed it dead in a book
    .. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

    Prince Alla – Funeral (7″) – Dub Store

    Introducing 7″ ‘Funeral’ by Prince Alla. [Label] Stars UK [Price] ¥1,000,000 [Genre] Roots Reggae 1970s.

    Nah go a no funeral, cyaan go a dem burial
    Nah go a no funeral, cyaan go a dem burial

    Dem want I, to come a this funeral
    Oh, dem want I, to come a this burial
    The dreader the battle deh (sweeter the victory)
    And man a go bawl (sweeter the love could be)

    Nah go a dem funeral, cyaan go a no burial
    Nah go a no funeral, cyaan go a dem burial

    So let the dead, bury the dead
    But let the living man, give thanks and praise instead
    I nah go a dem funeral and nah go a dem burial

    (..)

    Dem a go laugh if dem see
    Lightning come strike Dreadlocks in the cemetery
    Go ‘weh from deh

    Nah go a dem funeral, cyaan go a dem burial
    Nah go a dem funeral, cyaan go a dem burial

    (Nah go a dem funeral) Fi go mek that lightning
    (Nah go a dem burial) Come a ketch I in a cemetery
    (Nah go a dem funeral) You mus’ a mad! And mek that earthquake
    (Nah go a dem burial) Come a ketch I in a cemetery
    (Nah go a dem funeral) And mek that lightning
    (Nah go a dem burial) A come come
    Catch I in a cemetery, you mus’ a mad! (nah go a dem funeral)
    Mek that lightning (nah go a dem burial)
    Come a ketch I in a cemetery (nah go a dem funeral)
    Said me nah go a funeral (nah go a dem burial)
    Fi go mek Jah Jah lightning (nah go a dem funeral)
    Come a ketch I in a cemetery (nah go a dem burial)
    And mek Jah lightning (nah go a dem funeral)
    Come a ketch I in a cemetery (nah go a dem burial)
    Say me nah go…
    Rastaman you…

    Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa- Liberation Kriya

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  • William Skinner

    The presentation/ paper I sent went way beyond the introduction of Junior Colleges. As , I briefly mentioned , I also recommended two more years to the length of stay at primary school.
    The entire focus of the presentation was to create sustainable employment and develop a modern perspective and use of our Human Resources.
    Our educational system since 1962, has been on steroids. The primary school has been like a factory , whose main purpose was to produce little academic stars. It perhaps worked for a while but its deficiencies have long been identified and exposed.
    I hope that when the administration’s reform plans are revealed, it will reflect a determined effort to make the primary school the centre of future educational planning and goals and that the links to employment via a modern educational system will be clearly evident.
    I expect even at the primary school level, that exposing young minds to money management and investment will be part of educational reform.
    In other words, our children should have commercial activities as part of their activities. There is nothing wrong with a five year old investing part of his “ allowance “ in a cooperative at his/ her school and on leaving there can with draw savings and invest them in a small business project.
    If we agree that self employment is the way of the future, we have to think differently . Change the production line and the product or waste another forty years.
    We will soon see where we are going.
    .

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  • @William

    ‘Not fit for purpose’ is the more word used these days.

    Like

  • African Online Publishing Copyright ⓒ 2022. All Rights Reserved

    “I expect even at the primary school level, that exposing young minds to money management and investment will be part of educational reform.
    In other words, our children should have commercial activities as part of their activities. There is nothing wrong with a five year old investing part of his “ allowance “ in a cooperative at his/ her school and on leaving there can with draw savings and invest them in a small business project.”

    this is actually encouraged in more advanced societies and became even more pronounced during the over 2 years of lock down we had…so much time on our hands that others wasted…

    there was one 5 or 6 year old that was highlighted with her own registered company…if i remember it was agricultural in nature….many others started businesses at that tender age, whether it was a lemonade stand that attracted traffic from all walks of life or something else…there was encouragement from both city and state…instead of harassing them…even law enforcement pitched in…this is not the time to be dependent on anyone….only the extremely igrunt, greedy and corrupt will still promote this road to nowhere,,…

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  • African Online Publishing Copyright ⓒ 2022. All Rights Reserved

    Now people will see how much time they stupidly wasted with nonsense for the better part of 3 years, free time that was the best time to get started, or expand, using whatever gifts and skills available, by year 3 of any business, even with multiple challenges you see progress, by year 5, you are well on the road to success or diversification/expansion, although challenges will remain.

    Some people, even youngsters, have done a wonderful job…judging from what i have seen and know about personally.

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  • William,

    I realised what trouble we were in forty years ago when I worked a summer job at CXC and saw what passed at the Basic level. These children had wasted several years in our schools. The certificates were not worth the paper on which they were printed.

    A few years later as I started teaching I realised some of the problems and their solutions. I have been flapping my gums since then, to anyone who would listen, among children, teachers AND parents who may be stuck in the “11+ glory” and academic mud or trying to stuff square children into round holes, to the detriment of ALL concerned.

    Donna flaps gums about broad ideas. William submits detailed proposals. Ah well, we all do what we can. lol

    Kudos to you for submitting your detailed proposals in the right place. I do not share Observing’s pessimism that it may be dated. I believe updates may be made where necessary.

    Better late than never.

    What is timeless is the idea that EVERY child has abilities that need to be recognised early and developed to their benefit and that of society and that academic pursuits to the exclusion of all else, this overvaluing of academics and academia is idiotic.

    It should be obvious that no African Studies and One Caribbean mindset , no financial instruction and business endeavours, no civics and counselling and the changes will yield much less than what is possible.

    I don’t believe that all is lost but I admit to only cautious optimism that Bush Tea’s brass bowls will shut his smug tail up!

    P.S. The African Studies classes should begin with the DNA testing proposed by the person who will probably cuss me all day. But I do not care from whom a good idea comes. I care that it gets used.

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  • I guess Donna has some gum flapping to do about the DNA testing.

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  • Celebrate DNA Day
    Come to school dressed in lineage
    British played a trick on Barabadians
    and mixed Africans with Irish to make
    Slaves Stupid x 2 for physical labour

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  • William Skinner

    @ Donna
    Thanks. I think it’s important that we wait and see what is going to be pit before us. I note that the Barbados Union of Teachers is saying that it has not been consulted on changes.
    Regrettably, I the response of the Senior Education Officer was interesting. She said the union was “ jumping the gun”. That kind of language, becomes very problematic as we proceed.
    You are absolutely correct about us allowing forty years to go by without addressing the issue of reform. Education is the tool used to change how a society thinks.
    I have said repeatedly that all the talk about restructuring and diversifying the economy is wasted if our educational system is not in concord with the changes needed.

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  • Circa 1981/1982 then Minister of Education Billie Miller had a ” Zoning map ” created showing how students would go to
    Secondary school in their ” neighbourhoods ” etc. etc.

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  • 90% of the students at SJPPI cannot achieve basic proficiency in numeracy and literacy. Let’s address that deficiency first.

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  • Don’t know about 90% but a whole lotta Bajans are in that category.

    Forty years ago, I saw those CXC Basic Proficiency papers and I was STUNNED.

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  • William Skinner

    @ Ping Pong
    I don’t think your statement is correct. Many of the students at the Polytechnic today are quite competent academically as well. The Polytechnic is now attracting students who have , in some cases, switched from academic to technical studies because of the job market.
    If you were to peruse the profiles of such companies, you would note that several of those companies have past Polytechnic students in management/ supervisory positions.
    The polytechnic was never made to cater to students who had lacked the basics proficiencies as you have opined.
    The institution is a very solid one with dedicated staffs throughout the years,

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  • William is correct about the student intake.

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  • I am not speculating about the situation at SJPPI. About 2 or 3 years ago the Principal of SJPPI noted at the institution’s graduation that most graduates did not get the full diploma but were given unit certificates. The reason the students did not get the full diploma was their inability to pass the basic literacy and numeracy courses.

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  • @ Ping Ping @ Donna
    I find 90% a bit much. In all institutions we will find problems of that nature but 90% , I don’t agree at all.
    BTW, we keep very secretive about the amount of students who are very successful at the Common Entrance but then do very poorly at the prestigious schools.
    Simple reason :they get burned out at 11 years old and never recover. But, our society is not known for exposing such things.

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  • The next town hall meetings for the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE) 2022 will be held on Saturday, March 19, at the St George Secondary School, Constant, St George, and Princess Margaret Secondary School, Six Roads, St Philip.

    Both meetings will get under way at 5 p.m.

    https://www.nationnews.com/2022/03/16/two-11-town-hall-meetings/

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  • Society and school standards
    By Ralph Jemmott
    The late Rudolph V. Goodridge, when he was the first director of the in-service Diploma in Education course, said that schools teach values “by the standards they uphold”. The operative word in that construct is “uphold”, as opposed to merely “preach”.
    He was speaking primarily in relation to the affective domain of education rather than the cognitive sphere although the two are intricately related. The affective domain of pedagogy relates to the teaching and hopefully the inculcation of those positive values, attitudes and sensibilities that a civilised, cultivated society deems in its collective wisdom vital to its progressive continuance.
    A maths teacher considered it his job simply to teach compound interest and calculus, and he was recognisably good at what he did. However, he was heard to say, to most of his colleagues’ alarm, that it was not the task of schools to teach values. He often objected when the school took his teaching time to get the students involved in other activities not related to his academic discipline. He viewed values education as the responsibility of the home and the home only.
    Any teacher who sees his job as merely to teach a subject must be grossly overpaid – and teachers are not by any means “overpaid”. Of course, all this depends on whether we truly believe in a value beyond the value of a precarious Barbadian dollar and the almighty American dollar.
    R.V. Goodridge was by no means unaware of the fact that schools or teachers are not the only purveyors of values. Values are first and most effectively taught in the home and for two reasons. The parent has the first claim on the child’s time and its affections. It is his or her or their child and parents make the first inputs in terms of the child’s values formation.
    The parent also has the first right to discipline the child, particularly in relation to corporal punishment. However, as Gladstone Holder used to point out, more values are caught rather than taught. They are caught outside of the home and the school through the child’s everyday socialisation into the wider society, the media, the ZR culture or what have you.
    Those values in the wider society are neither totally good nor totally bad, but depending on the moral state of the society, children can internalise poor values from the environment beyond the home and the school. The Greeks used the word paideia to refer to and emphasise the non-formal
    or informal educative influences that emanate from the wider society.
    Not rocket science
    In a morally decaying culture, the paideia may invariably expose children to influences that run counter or, in American football terms, “run interference” to the values that the school and home are trying to inculcate in the child. This is not rocket science; it is observable reality. You come home from school with a questionable type of behaviour and language never heard at home and your mother wants to know, “Boy, where you get that from?”
    Children cannot be protected from every evil influence, but it is incumbent on the school to at least try to build the barricades against the bad influences in the culture. The qualitative deficiencies in modern schooling in terms of outcomes has very little to do with schools themselves. It has more to do with the deteriorating cultural environment in which contemporary education functions.
    The recent pictures on social media of school girls vaping and twerking in classrooms raise the question as to who on earth is managing these institutions. Who are on the boards of management? Who are the principals and their deputies, the yearheads and other senior management staff? Do they know and recognise what is going on in the schools?
    Maybe they, too, are overwhelmed by the challenges in society that present them with issues related to bullying, drugs, gambling, sexcapading, vaping and twerking in classrooms and using vulgar language to teachers. These things are not commensurate with “the good school”, no matter from what socio-economic group that school draws its intake. These behaviours exist in varying degrees in all schools.
    The dream that Barbadian education will be transformed by some “completely new structure” whatever that will look like, is vainglorious if we cannot clean up our schools. Always remember that to clean up the schools requires that we clean up the society.
    In 2009 Jeremy Rifkin delivered the Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture. He chose as his topic The Third Industrial Revolution And A New Social Vision For The 21st Century. He made this insightful comment: “The key for every nation is to lay out a “compelling social vision to accompany the new economic vision”. Our problem since 1966 is that no one, nobody, has laid out anything resembling a “compelling” social vision.
    Ralph Jemmott is a retired educator and social commentator.

    Source: Nation

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  • A good article by Ralph Jemmott.

    My opinion
    I place the behavior of our children is a result of failures in the home and not on the school, the wider society or social media.

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  • Jesus……
    My opinion
    The misbehavior of our children is mainly a result of failure in the home and should not be blamed on the school, the wider society or social media.

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  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Skinner, ths is an old comment which I just noticed… “BTW, we keep very secretive about the amount of students who are very successful at the Common Entrance but then do very poorly at the prestigious schools. Simple reason :they get burned out at 11 years old and never recover. But, our society is not known for exposing such things.”

    You need to bring your set of dat and clarify for me how on earth any ELEVEN – THIRTEEN year old can get burned out! In fact I should ask, exactly what do you mean as otherwise it seems you are being overly verbose!

    There are many reasons top achievers ‘do poorly” when competing against OTHER top achievers and one very simple factor is that only so many people can be at the top… so ‘poorly’ becomes a relative construct of ‘good’ against very good and against excellent…. thus I imagine some of them will fall back in the face of the stifling competition and not fit into the same high ordinal ranking as previously.

    I also imagine that some do get transfixed and ‘radicalized’ when exposed to the new environment with these other very smart kids and the exposure to all the ‘dangers’ which can ensnare bring, impressionable youth (the bad, like drugs and sex and good-bad like overdo of sports or other non academic pursuits) … but I would be shocked to know that a majority (or significant amount) who get into a ‘prestigious’ Bajan secondary school subsequently falter because they get ‘burned out’ because they simply can’t cope with the academics per se!

    Keen to hear your reasonings. Peace.

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  • The people’s interest in educational reform
    by DR DAN C. CARTER WITH THE FINANCIAL AND BUDGETARY proposals presented to the House of Assembly by the Finance of Minister, Mia Amor Mottley, Barbadians will perhaps turn their attention to the next major issue on the country’s political agenda and that is educational reform.
    This topic is easily one of the most discussed over the last 30 years, particularly as it relates to the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE), often referred to as the Common Entrance Examination. Since 1991, when places at the secondary level became available to all primary age children, the transfer from primary to secondary should not have been the hotly contested annual event that it continues to be.
    However, having the Common Entrance Examination likened to a race at the Garrison where the stakes are high and where winning is all that counts, Barbadian society today seems to think that our children are deserving of more humane consideration. We must now agree that our children are all different – mentally, psychologically, socially and physically. Unfortunately, these differences, long recognised by leading educational psychologists, have been blatantly ignored by governments across the developing/post-colonial world.
    Colonial experience
    The problem, however, is found in the shared colonial experience of these countries, the Caribbean included.
    The plantation economy ensured that the colonial masters, who controlled the school systems, developed and perpetuated an education system that ensured that the best schools were attended by the European elite, thus Harrison College and The Lodge School. On the other hand, the masses were provided for by a series of primary schools that ensured the curriculum nurtured them to grow up “stupid under the union jack” according to renowned Barbadian author, Austin ‘Tom” Clarke.
    To the credit of Caribbean politicians, their post-Independence education agenda, ensured that educational opportunity was available to as wide a population as was economically feasible. In Barbados, the introduction of the secondary modern school by a Grantley Adams Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration extended secondary education to the children of thousands of poor working class parents. This development was followed by Errol Barrow and his Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government which abolished school fees at all the older grammar schools, a financial burden that saw many a child gaining entry to these schools but unable to attend because of the fees.
    The period from 1966 to the present, witnessed both BLP and DLP governments expanding access at the primary and particularly the secondary level. This success of universal primary and secondary education positioned Barbados to successfully support the establishment of the University of West Indies, Cave Hill and the Barbados Community College. Tertiary level education is now an integral part of the educational landscape of Barbados. The Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology is now acknowledged as part of the tertiary experience.
    The foremost challenge to the educational system in Barbados today is one of equity. It is now very important that the education planners concentrate their energies on discovering and cultivating the unique gifts, talents and interests that every human being possesses.
    For too long they have been paying attention almost exclusively to the cognitive abilities of students (verbal and logical) and ignoring those others such as spatial, kinesthetic and musical. The result has been a curriculum skewed towards enabling children to compete in a Common Entrance Examination whose only two subjects were English language and mathematics.
    Fit the latter model
    However, the anticipated reform in the Barbados educational system is to deal not only with the CEE, but with the national system itself.
    Educational reform could either be on a minor scale similar to what the Ministry of Education did to allow for Flexible Transfer of students sitting the CEE, or the more macro White Paper on Education Reform (1995).
    Government’s present reform seems to fit the latter model. This national approach to educational reform, therefore, demands that the public is totally involved in the exercise.
    To date, the public has only been fed with “titbits” of information which is therefore causing stakeholders and the general public to ask questions, some very legitimate. First, the Barbados Union of Teachers President, Rudy Lovell, loudly protested that his organisation, a main stakeholder in education, has been left out of the negotiations. Then Professor Michael Howard, whose letters to the press are more concerned with micro- and macro-economic theories, posed a series of questions to the educational planners that, to my mind, impact the entire educational system from primary to tertiary. Thirdly, letter writer Michael Rudder wondered rather philosophically what would be the first question asked when the reform paper is presented to the Cabinet: “Has the ministry consulted with the teachers and parents? Are they on board with the plan/proposal?”
    I do not have to stress that education is of national concern to all Barbadians. The fact that the Government is contemplating a national restructuring of the system is sufficient cause for Barbadians to become involved especially when the matter concerns the transfer from primary to secondary schooling, bearing in mind the historical discrimination that attended such an exercise prior to 1959.
    It was in New York in September 2019 that the Prime Minister informed the diaspora and Barbadians that her Government would be embarking on a comprehensive reform of the country’s educational system. Ever since that time, the then Minister, Santia Bradshaw, has made repeated references to Government’s intention in this regard. The Director of Education Reform, Dr Idamay Denny has even suggested the input of “academies” which the public may rightly assume to be decisions already made in advance!
    In its report on educational reform in the United States: A Nation At Risk: The imperative For Educational Reform (1983), President Ronald Reagan is reported to have said: “This country was built on American respect for education… Our challenge now is to create a resurgence of that thirst for education that typifies our nation’s history.” In Barbados, it is education that has underpinned our success as a nation.
    It is, therefore, imperative that as the Government ponders any change of the educational system that it sets out a clear policy framework within which appropriate and relevant debate and consultation can take place.
    Dr Dan C. Carter is an educational historian and author.

    Source: Nation

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