Wayne Willock – Time to Speak Out

Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

I believe that it is time to speak out on certain matters. It may take me more than one column to say these things but I am not committing to having a page or a slot. Just for background information for those who may not know, I recently retired from the teaching service at the level of Deputy Principal, after serving as Acting Principal for 18 months, a post which I really could never achieve, being labelled a ‘troublemaker” and more recently a “devil” by the powers that be. Why? The status quo, as corrupt as it may be, must be maintained! But more on that later.

Years ago when I was P.R.O. and then President of the B.S.T.U. this issue of violence against teachers raised its head and from then till now, some 18 years later. Successive Ministries of Education under various Ministers, the worst being the present, have failed to grapple with the issue, and like most other things in this country, it has remained under the carpet. This is a country where if you don’t toe the line you are out in the cold. Are we going to wait until a teacher is killed to deal with it? I accept that due process and investigation must take place, however, that having been done the next steps need to be taken:

  • The Board of Management needs to decide if the child is to be further suspended, expelled or sent back to school.
  • The Ministry then takes the Board’s recommendation and either accepts or rejects it and rightly so, then make their own determination.
  • The child has to be expelled from that school and not from the educational system as some people would want to determine. This is because the teacher involved and the student cannot exist in the same environment simultaneously. It would leave the student as a hero, something which I have seen done on several occasions.
  • The Ministry needs to seriously put in place that special institution which has been spoken about for many years. It should be run by the Defence Force personnel and have strict guidelines in relation to an alternative syllabus for such students who offer this category of violence to a teacher or even their parents.

Let it be clear that I am not suggesting that teachers are always right and children always wrong because that would be far from the truth. There have been instances where teachers have caused things upon themselves due to the inability to cope with certain personalities in the classroom. Some teachers were not born to be teachers but end up doing it out of necessity. On the other hand, when we analyse why certain children display very unsociable behaviours, as is being suggested as a remedy, what happens afterwards? One guidance counsellor per secondary school of 1000 children is adequate? One psychologist at the Ministry is enough? Abolishing corporal punishment is the answer? The countries which have taken that approach are in more trouble than we are now, and may be looking to reinstate it. But look! There is a teacher who flogged children illegally for years, was warned on several occasions, but was just given a Deputy post at a hot school. Wow!

What about the new rantings and ravings of the Minister? Can you imagine a Minister taking up a portfolio which contains important mandates as written in the Education Act and only after 8 years, comes out to say that he never liked Corporal Punishment. What is even worse is that he has insulted all Principals, Deputies and Senior Teachers by implying that they should all be locked up for assault. I wonder what BAPPSS’s response will be, being the soft organisation that it is, one which, in keeping with the requirements of being attached to any government agency, must “toe the line” and play down many of the issues which plague our system. Things that happen at the so-called low schools happen at the high schools too but “no press allowed”. Maybe one should wonder why the rules which govern secondary schools are not standardized, (I don’t mean on paper.) Each school almost does as it likes. What do I mean? In some schools, teachers must write a letter whenever absent, others not. In some schools Principals are not even informed about decisions made by the Board, even though he is supposed to be the CEO on the compound. They don’t even get to browse the Smart Stream system to know how much money was allocated, where and how it is being spent. In others, that is the norm. Talking about Boards, would you believe that at a school, corporate governance has allowed a Deputy Chairman of the Board to be on that same entity along with his wife who is the Secretary Treasurer? Of course one is not to even ask about things like those and that is why both the writer and the current Principal were recently labelled ‘Devils” for asking about it. Not only that! The previous principal, (notice the small letter) complained to the Ministry for me because I asked too many questions about the Status Quo like: Why are teachers from this parish getting to school late so often? Do you send monthly reports to the Ministry? Why do certain teachers have 18 & 19 non-teaching lessons? How is it that certain people come and go on the compound with much frequency but with your permission? Why are certain teachers in your office for long periods during the day and you are never available for matters on the compound which the Deputy must make decisions on? I would never forget the day there was a fire above the school and children were having asthmatic attacks and the writer was chastised for being asked by teachers what to do. He didn’t even have a clue what was going on. He asked if the teachers think I am “our saviour” because lives had to be saved without his initiative.

Anyhow, more to be said! You see this country, it is a mess and getting worse daily. I could write a book highlighting the 23 interviews I had before fluking a Deputy Post; Or the three panels that were changed just to ensure that a troublemaker like me does not get an administrative position. Yes! Remember it was first the Governing Bodies that did the interviews. Then when Parkinson was up for grabs, between the first and second interviews it changed to a Special Panel made up of big boys from Ministry, Erdiston, UWI, two Board members and such. Then when Princess Margaret was up, again between the first and second interviews the panel then changed to the Commissioners without a single Board member being even informed. (Not that that made any difference to the song and dance that went on when I retired). Foundation, Ellerslie twice, St. George, Combermere and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, I was never a yes man, something which is required in many situations. I find it impossible to be present in the midst of nonsense going on called a “Status Quo” and the amount of people who don’t have the guts to come out and say anything. Well I always had guts. It’s going down now since I lost some weight. By the way, this is not political either since as you would have noticed, my demise was shared between both parties. So it would have to be me! I remember when a Deputy Chief education Officer called me in to her office to tell me that while I am tutoring at Erdiston College in Strategic Planning to Principals by the way, I must not say anything against the Ministry even if it is true. And you believe they have that in the Public Service Act too?

I have a lot more to say but I will pause and come again. I will not close however without challenging any member who sat on a panel to interview me over the last 10 years to really come out and expose the foolishness that goes on in this country, damaging and destroying the lives and psyches of many seriously-minded and hard-working individuals in this country. Using the word “Recommendation” to imply that it can be accepted or refused. All set up for ulterior motives to satisfy friends and cohorts like those now at the Ministry, names best left unsaid. I can’t forget the campaign manager of a minister that got a school one week before elections were called. Yeah. That was one that lick me up too!

My friend Mrs. Thompson, may she rest in peace, former Chairman of a Governing Body, was able to tell me something before her passing. Who else has the guts, the fortitude or the resolve? The seven years of secrecy have passed. Or do we remain a country of carpets and brooms, sweeping away the truths. By the way, more on the Minister to come! Yes sir, I am Mr. Ting as said to me at several meetings. This “devil” says: Please learn to pronounce your “th” as though it were not a “d”. Stop making up words on the people’s T.V. Were you a teacher or not? Which subject, I cannot imagine. A Union leader? Really!

Gone, but not for long!

Ministry of Education Moves to Deal with Bullying (NOT)

Submitted by Bush Tea
"...latest fad that has been pissing the bushman off is the lotta talk about bullying in schools..."

“…latest fad that has been pissing the bushman off is the lotta talk about bullying in schools…”

One thing about our approach to our various challenges is our consistency. Teenage sex has been an open secret in ALL our schools now for years, but a newspaper decides to publish living proof and all hell breaks out..resulting in big shots at the newspaper being charged for speaking and publishing the ACTUAL TRUTH.

Drivers have been openly driving through red light, speeding, parking ‘where-ever’ and when ever they please ….all with gay abandon….and completely ignored by the police (Ok if Bushie was a policeman and had the experience of seeing how our shiite courts handle these matters, Bushie would ignore them too….but that is another matter). The inevitable happens, a number of serious accidents, and suddenly big shots are running around talking about what they are planning to do….

It must be some shiite in our food or water…

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Barbados Community College Principal Divides to Conquer

Submitted by Neil Watchman
Minister of Education Ronald Jones (l) Dr. Gladstone Best, Principal of the BCC

Minister of Education Ronald Jones (l) Dr. Gladstone Best, Principal of the BCC

In December last year, it was rumoured that the Principal of the BCC, Dr. Gladstone (Gallstone) Best had decided to abolish the general staff meeting held on the first day of semester and instead, hold individual meetings with the various Divisions.  That was no rumour; to date the  Principal has held surreptitious meetings with two such Divisions: the Division of Commerce and the Division of General Education.  On both occasions outspoken tutors in either Division grilled him on this move and other matters. The lame duck CPAC (so-called College Planning and Advisory Committee) has requested (N.B. not “demanded”) that the meetings be restored.

By this act of ‘division’ the principal has effectively fractured an institution already alienated both in nomenclature and in spirit in order to maintain his tenuous position.  It is now recognized that his action was taken to preempt a planned motion of no confidence against him, a move advocated by some of the more militant members of staff.

The once-a-semester meeting allowed current members to meet new staff, hear about retirements, academic achievements etc. explanations for any contentious issues and keep staff up to date on pending actions.  Of course, staff members have used this occasion to vent their frustration with the administration (aka the Principal) which has come under increasing fire for a string of malfeasances ranging from late payments to staff (the Principal is chief Finance Officer according to the BCC Act)  to the dire state of the physical plant to deteriorating security.

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Destabilization of the Barbados Community College (BCC)

Submitted Neil Watchman
Stephen Broome, Chairman of BCC

Stephen Broome, Chairman of BCC

There is growing concern among staff at the Barbados Community College where the Board or more accurately, the Chairman, seems to have developed a tight stranglehold on the institution. Staff cannot recall there ever being such a high level of politicization at the institution until the advent of Mr. Stephen Broome who served first as Deputy Chairman and is now in his second term as Chairman.

Some, perhaps out of fear, believe that the Chairman’s mission is to destabilize the institution as a precursor to the Government’s phasing it out. They point to the recent spate of sixth forms set up by the MOE headed by Ronald Jones in support of this supposition. This, coupled with the imposition of higher fees on UWI students from 2014 makes for a very confusing educational policy. One could be excused for thinking that the Government would have put more resources into the BCC but then again, if it didn’t do that when things were well, one cannot expect them to do it in these dire times. So what? Such confusion and contradictions seem symptomatic of the Freundel Stuart administration, anyhow.

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Ministry of Education Must be Professional Executing Role as Final Arbiter

Submitted by The Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group
Laurie King, Chief Education Officer

Laurie King, Chief Education Officer

The Mahogany Coconut Group (MCG) is concerned that Barbadian school children, can go to the Ministry of Education and have a legitimate punishment enforced by their school’s principal, overturned by a civil servant! Such a travesty occurred recently, when a group of school children turned up at the Ministry of Education, and succeeded in getting a senior ministry official, to overrule the punishment imposed on them, by their principal, for frequently being late in arriving at school.

What transpired sets a very ugly and dangerous precedent that will most certainly, result in far reaching negative effects on the dispensation, of discipline in our schools. The unbelievable actions of the civil servant, dealt a very low blow, to the principal. We know for a fact that many principals are now contemplating if it is worth their while to discipline students.

This brazen assault on our educators is a trademark of both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party. It is now very clear to all concerned that when party supporters from either side are placed in powerful positions, their inability to understand their job description becomes a major problem.

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Donville Inniss Says UWI Tuition Fees Must Stay

Submitted by Anthony Davis
Donville Inniss - Minister of Commerce, and International Business

Donville Inniss – Minister of Commerce, and International Business

“The Freundel Stuart administration says it is sticking to its guns to make Barbadian students at the University of the West Indies start pulling their pockets for tuition fees from next year even though welcoming a new private sector fund to bail out those who cannot afford to pay…The firm position was taken today by Minister of Commerce, and International Business, Donville Inniss, while launching a new charity known as Global Education Scholastic Trust…Inniss said the Government had done the right thing in the circumstances of the economic climate, and would carry through with it…It is not easy for me as a politician that would have taken in recent debates to reduce fees at UWI with effect from 2014, but it is one of those things we felt we had to do, and we stand by that decision.”

What else can one expect from an uncaring Government, whose scions – and probably their scions’ scions – have had a free education at the UWI Cave Hill Campus? The motto of this Government is now “after me the deluge”! Is this the same Government that Minister Blackett called people-centred? I guess he means centred around the 16 DLP Government MPs, but night runs till day catches it!

Minister Inniss can spare us his crocodile tears!

You do not have money for our students at UWI Cave Hill, nor for the QEH, but you have millions of dollars in waivers – including one for food and beverage which no hotel has had before – to throw at a multi-millionaire named “Butch” Stewart, although he took over a hotel here and promised to develop and refurbish it so that Barbadians could get work, but absconded leaving it to moulder and the iron in it to rust! This left those who had hopes of getting a job there up the creek without a paddle! “Is that “the right thing in the circumstances of the economic climate”, Minister Inniss?

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Barbados is Not an Independent Country

Submitted by Pachamama
"No recognition of the thief, genocide and character assassination of the Tianos, the Kalinagos and other indigenous peoples"

“No recognition of the thief, genocide and character assassination of the Tianos, the Kalinagos and other indigenous peoples” – Photo Credit: Wikipedia

As we approach the season before the silly season we can expect the regular public diatribes from officialdom as they seek to immortalize a constructed past and present an unmeasured guidance for their fairy tale visions of the future. The hard truth has been, is and will be that Barbados since 1627 has never been an independent country and may, never will be. We now know that the most influential factor in Barbados’ independence was the CIA pressure on Britain to relinquish its colonies worldwide, as evidenced by recent Freedom of Information Act disclosures. Right away we have to reassess claims about the ‘fathership’ of this so-called independence project. We also have to ask ourselves some other searching questions.

What kind of an independent country can be properly built on the bones of the indigenous peoples of this region in circumstances where, within the body politic, there is no recognition of the thief, genocide and character assassination of the Tianos, the Kalinagos and other indigenous peoples who lived on this here land for millennium before White people even knew the world was not flat. They descendant are still amongst us.

What kind of an independent country will allow 180 years to past after the most egregious crimes to be committed against African peoples, and indeed all of humanity, and for those crimes to be taken as a normal way of doing business, as though they never occurred. A business which initially ‘globalized’ the functions of corporations.

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Please Teacher Darling

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Barbadians have proven once again that we live in a society where the vast majority of us prefer to bury our heads in the sand. The furore, created by the publication of a story about two school children having sex at school, has given me the impression that too many people preferred not to find out about this in a public forum. That would have allowed them to continue to delude themselves that all is well in our schools.

I must admit that the Nation could have been a bit more restrained in its delivery of the story. But I believe that it is high time that the decadence that is being nurtured, in our schools, is exposed. When children go to school, they ought not to be exposed to illicit sexual behaviour, either as a participant or spectator. Unfortunately, when instances of serious bad behaviour are discovered, the authorities go into cover up mode ostensibly to protect the good name of the school. It would appear that little thought is given to the welfare of the affected children or the law when they investigate and deal with school-based child sexual abuse and other crimes.

Over the years, there have been many reports of little school girls being introduced to sex far too early by their teachers. The method of dealing with these matters vary, but in most cases, the perpetrators get away with a slap on the wrist, and are allowed to continue their activity until they are caught again or retired.

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More Action at a Secondary School

Hon Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

Hon Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

Coming in the wake of the classroom sex video BU is looking into another matter at Princess Margaret School. It appears a teacher was beaten by a school boy and fainted from the experience. What is alarming is that other teachers who were present were scared shitless to offer assistance to a fallen comrade.

It is not surprising we are told that the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) has been slow to take action and the BSTU as is the norm is being ignored. Can we expect the Ministry of Education to take action? What about the embattled Minister of Education?

Notes From a Native Son: A Nation with a Hollow Where Public Morality Ought to be

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

The political and economic failure of Barbados is like a slow motion car crash which onlookers are powerless to do anything about. As we look on, we can see the economy heading for a reinforced wall like a speeding, driverless car; we observe our leading institutions collapsing like a pack of over-used cards, while the high priests and priestesses of society preach about the solidity of these very flawed institutions. It is like Armageddon, we run screaming to the captains of industry, but there is nothing they can do; we plead with our politicians, but they are not listening; we ask our professionals for help, but they are pre-occupied with feathering their own nests. Repeating the growing lists of failings may hurt, but that is not like the pain felt by the marginalised, the disadvantaged, the outcasts. Like the man left on the floor of the hospital for four hours without any attention, then only to have a kind soul throw a sheet over him; like the man who collapsed at the wheel of his vehicle, only to find that calls for an ambulance could not be met – while the so-called Defence Force has an abundance of ambulances. Like a government refusing to pay Mr Barrack, while still pretending that it can engage in big capital projects.

Death of a Dream:
I seem to pinpoint the historical juncture when this rot set in when we started Barbadianising all our top management and public sector positions, regardless of the quality of the talent to fill those positions. This runs from the quality of programming at CBC, the leadership of our secondary schools and the nature of decision-making in the public sector. The only explanation is the rise of a petit-bourgeois nationalism in the years since constitutional independence which, in many ways, is driving the nation back in to the dark days of neo-colonial rule. The dominant belief now is that, no matter which political party one belongs to or support, this Barbadianisation of public sector jobs is a social priority over and above the quality of the service we deliver to the long-suffering public. In many ways, the irony is that this retreat in to a self-protective nationalism is taking place while the island itself is giving way to new forms of Barbadian-ness. This weakness is in most part an outcome of a weak public intellectual movement, as a reflection of the wider ruling elite. It is a small elite which has found it intellectually and politically cosy not challenging each other and accepting a consensus which is not ideologically tested in any way.

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Submitted by Guild Watchdog
(L-R) Guild President; Damani Parris, Law Rep; Daniel Davies, Guild Treasurer; Ital Spencer reviewing a student petition against paying tuition fees

(L-R) Guild President; Damani Parris, Law Rep; Daniel Davies, Guild Treasurer; Ital Spencer reviewing a student petition against paying tuition fees

While some University Students are worrying about the Governments new policy forcing them to pay tuition fees at The University of the West Indies. It was chaos and turmoil at The Roy Marshall Teaching Complex at The University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus on Thursday night; for the convening of a Guild Council Meeting when once-removed Treasurer of the Guild, Ital Spencer was the centre of contention and disruptive behaviour forcing University Security to end the meeting prematurely.

Mr. Spencer, who was also the Guild Treasurer on the previous Guild Council was accused of manipulating his authority to obtain absolute power and threatening other council officers. These accusations, which offend the Constitution of the Guild and the University’s Code of Ethics warranted him a trial of ‘No Confidence for Recall’ at the hands of the student population resulting in his removal last November.

Sources close to the Cave Hill Guild Council have stated Mr. Spencer dod not submit financial reports, has been accused and proven of using the students’ Guild funds for personal benefit, for example, a first class flight to Jamaica last UWI Games among other aggravated offenses. To this end, the President of the Guild, Mr. Damani Parris, has suspended Mr. Spencer pending another Special  Meeting of the Student Body to affect the removal of Mr. Spencer.

On Wednesday, 25th September, 2013 the majority membership of the student executive voted ‘No Confidence’ in Mr. Ital Spencer and have therefore recommended to the student population that he be removed.

UWI Fees Standing On Current Enrolled Barbadians Students

Submitted by Politically Correct (to alert the President of the Guild of this vital information)
President of the Student's Guild, Damani Parris

President of the Student’s Guild, Damani Parris – photo credit:Nation newspaper

This letter is not to slander persons in the Ministry but merely to assist the Guild in fighting the sudden increase in fees for Barbadian students. I will explain how to address this legally below from paragraph 2. The Ministry of Education, Science Technology and Innovation is a puppet Ministry which is suffering at the hands of the International community because of Globalisation. This is a typical encroachment on our sovereignty as a Nation. Changing a name does not mean that you are in alignment with countries that truly have science, technology and innovation based research saving the country money, creating new jobs etc. Minister Ronald Jones is quoted in the advocate as saying “The State does not have money and that citizens must stop being selfish and depending on Government for the State has no money (ADVOCATE 13/9/2013)

Every country listed here in Canada, South Africa, Denmark, Finland and more. I draw to your attention the UWI HANDBOOK and REGULATIONS for each FACULTY, as the first set of evidence and the quality assurance agency in Barbados which promotes quality assurance in higher education for you to use in your arguments. We will now see the power of politics and the role it plays.

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Local Tertiary Education

Submitted by Looking Glass
Hon Ronald Jones, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation

Hon Ronald Jones, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation

We are about the only country in the world where Tertiary Education is free and the cost to the taxpayer is truly excessive not only in terms of finance but in terms of what is taught and how it is taught. This is especially true of the kind of economics we teach and has implications for successful social and economic development.

Countries are not identical. They differ in terms of size, natural resources, social resources, population etc. China population exceeds one million the USA about 275000. Economics is a social science not a physical science. All we have is land, sea, sun and no natural resources. To be truly effective for Barbados it requires knowledge and understanding of the local economy.

Econ growth and development require technological and other growth to increase productivity. It requires structural factors social, economic and political to increase output and efficiency of available resources and investment. The agricultural sector is vital. Much of economic development in Latin America is tied to the land and growth of products for consumption and export. Much of the population is involved in agriculture. They grow every thing from coffee and cocoa, work on the land and have enacted vigorous development policies. In Barbados we are still inclined to avoid working the land and linking it to Slavery.

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UWI, Tertiary Education Cost and the Budget

Submitted by Fair Play
Sir Frank Alleyne

Sir Frank Alleyne

Sir Frank Alleyne’s interview on the People’s Business last night was spot-on. As usual, he was cogent, rational, reasonable and, of course, very ‘frank’, no pun intended. All the while, trying not to be overly critical of the administration at Cave Hill, but tacitly showing up its unreasonableness and excessive spending, nonetheless. He walked the proverbial tightrope (having taught there for decades, so he was somewhat circumspect), but he did it well.

It was very interesting television! Lots of good points were made; but  a couple salient ones stand out:

  • current physical development at the Cave Hill campus is not sustainable;
  • maintenance and personnel to staff the new structures will be difficult to maintain;
  • salary levels are very high;
  • UWI’s operating cost (to central government) has risen exponentially from about $53 million in 2005 to over $126 million in 2012-2013;

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Financing Tertiary Education in the Caribbean: The Case of the University of the West Indies

Andrew Downes is Professor of Economics and Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies. He has degrees in economics from the Universities of the West Indies and Manchester. He is the author of several monographs and articles covering such area as labour economics, macroeconomics, development economics and applied econometrics. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies. He is the author of a report for the UNDP on the Millennium Development Goals in the Caribbean

Andrew Downes is Professor of Economics and Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies. He has degrees in economics from the Universities of the West Indies and Manchester. He is the author of several monographs and articles covering such area as labour economics, macroeconomics, development economics and applied econometrics. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies. He is the author of a report for the UNDP on the Millennium Development Goals in the Caribbean.

Majority Supporting Government's Tertiary Education Plan

Submitted by Fair Play
Minister of Education appeared on CBC's The People's Business to explain government's decision to ask UWI students to pay part of the cost of their degree.

Minister of Education appeared on CBC’s The People’s Business to explain government’s decision to make UWI students pay part of the cost of their degree.

I believe our plan to ask students to contribute a small part of the cost of their tertiary education at UWI has more public support than we think. Talking to people from all walks of life, and ironically, particularly among low income earners, there is much support.  Their comments run the gamut from: it makes sense; the country cannot afford 100% funding at this time; other countries that are better off than us don’t do it; and, it should have been implemented long ago; to, they have an attitude after graduation – forgetting who paid for their education; and they do not give back to society, especially the doctors and lawyers who charge the same benefactors (the taxpayers) very exorbitant fees.

Barbadians aren’t stupid.

However, over and above those sentiments, generally, most persons I spoke to agree with the percentage the students will have to pay. Even some, like Dr. Leonard Shorey, (a perennial BLP apologist) believe it should have been higher and was long in coming. And, the Sunday Sun poll surprisingly gave majority support to the Gov’t.

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Making Changes to Education … “without altering basic social principles which have got us this far”

Submitted by William Skinner

marion_williamsLadies and gentlemen, our educational system has been a beacon in the Caribbean and the developing world. However if we are to cope with the pressures for change which lie ahead, the cost of education will be immense, if we are not to be left behind. In order that we are on the right side of the divide, the new requirements will necessitate that we restructure and find ways to deliver relevant and high quality education which meet the needs of the 21st century without altering the basic social principles which have got us this far.

Dr. Marion Williams former Governor of The Central Bank of Barbados, 14th Rudolph Goodridge Memorial Lecture & Education Awards Ceremony Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Those who support the abolition of what we commonly refer to as our free education system, are quick to defend their position by saying it is not really free because it is underwritten by the taxpayers. At first this appears to be a strong defense of their position but on closer examination, it is fatally flawed.

The whole concept of free education really means that those who are pursuing the education do not have to pay. In other words it is free at the point of delivery. It is based on the principle that no one should be denied an education because they are unable to pay.

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The 11+ Stranglehold

Submitted by Charles Knighton
Always the perennial cry, 11 Plus vs Continuous Assessment

Always the perennial cry, 11 Plus vs Continuous Assessment

With the end of the school term, the rancorous yearly debate vis-a-vis the relative merit of a one-off exam versus a system of continuous assessment again reaches a hiatus, which will be interrupted by precisely the same debate as the time for the next eleven-plus approaches. This being Barbados, where unacted-upon green papers, white papers and MOU’s fill government storage rooms, the ad infinitum nature of this debate is guaranteed. As a former educator, I offer the following observation.

No exam, no single day’s performance, should be  given so much power to effect the lives and evaluations of students, teachers and the schools they represent.  Current policy in Barbados reflects the belief that we need such tests, the belief that we cannot trust the judgement of teachers to tell us whether or not students are making progress nor of administrators to tell us whether teachers are succeeding or not.

This being the case, why then should they be trusted with our children?

PM’s Recent Comments

Submitted by Looking Glass
Fruendel Stuart, Prime Minister

Fruendel Stuart, Prime Minister

According to the PM it is possible to have social development when no economic development is taking place because structural changes are taking place which are intended to make life better for a larger number of people. [Economic Growth Should Benefit The People: Advocate 5/16/2013]. I am unsure exactly what he means by social development. Yes further social development may indeed be possible; but given the cost and the absence of economic development where will the money come from to facilitate it? Are you prepared to borrow the money to facilitate social development? Today the national debt is about $70bn which we cannot pay. If so then you are sending the country further down the drain.

He noted that in colonial times there was economic growth but there was no evidence of social development there or in the region. “There was no evidence of schools, hospitals or safety to protect the elderly, child labour and crude disrespect for women.” As was noted in Alleged Bajan Slavery the Jews built and developed the country until the Blacks took over the government in the early 19th century. The schools he went to there were built by them and his parents worked in Bridgetown.

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Notes From a Native Son: The Role of Education Policy in Development Part Two

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

Globally, a greater proportion of privately educated pupils go on to higher education than those educated in the public education system. Not only does this simple empirical reality does not take a lot of analysis and can be explained in a way many of us will understand, its simplicity also hides a lot of generational advantages; for example, it is common knowledge that children from black and Hispanic backgrounds underperform when compared with their white counterparts. (For a greater and more technical argument, see: Joseph Stiglitz: “The demand for education in public and private school system”, Journal of Public Economics (1974); G. Brunello and L. Rocco: “Educational Standards in Privatew and Public Schools”, Economic Journal (2008).

One of the advantages of a private education is that pupils are often privately trained, in addition to their normal classroom experience, to take the key public exams, be they the 11plus, CXCs or final degrees, success in which brings enormous prestige. Such a privatised, exam-focused system does not necessarily produce young men and women with the skills and ability to think critically, indulge in team-working, or carry out complex research, all part of modern higher education and the best working environments. Increasingly, most post-graduate study is now inter-disciplinary and the knowledge-based workplace is an environment of collaborating with colleagues and ideas sharing.

Related Link: Notes From a Native Son: The Role of Education Policy in Development Part One

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Children In Jeopardy Of Not Getting Reports

Submitted by HaHa
Hon Ronald Jones, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation

Hon Ronald Jones, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation

As the school term draws to an end, many schools have been put on high alert as the newly and fully adopted educational management information system (EMIS) Abusstar which was contracted for millions under Minister Ronald Jones (former Information Technology Coordinator) is not producing much needed statistical information.

Apparently, the CEO of the company has requested millions more to be able to produce the statistics and is planning to withdraw the system just before the end of the term leaving schools without the ability to produce reports. Meetings with Principals and ITCs at the various schools were held to inform them of the imminent embarrassment.

Further to this, Barbados is losing valuable aid from the United Nations because they have been unable to produce complete statistics for the last 2 years since Abusstar’s mandatory adoption as instructed by Minister Jones.

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Notes From a Native Son: The Role of Education Policy in Development Part One

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

The immediacy of the financial economic crisis facing Barbados is so important that there is a real danger of this single issue crowding out other equally important social and cultural policy initiatives, many of them far more important to the long-term development of the nation and its people. But, for a variety of reasons, including the routine acceptance of mediocrity, politicians, policymakers, parents and education professionals prefer to remain silent about the acceptance of this new normal rather than bite the bullet. Our nation is the poorer for this.

Knowledge-based Society:
For all kinds of reasons previously discussed in this blog, including demography, geographical size and economic limitations, the great opportunity for economic growth in Barbados is to develop a knowledge-based skilfully and prudently economy by utilising our limited resources and human capital to meet this collective goal. However, to do this in any objective and scientific way will mean confronting a number of demanding challenges, such as defining what it is we want to achieve as a society and the extent of the deferred gratification we are prepared to endure.

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New Education for Development

Submitted by Looking Glass
UWI, Cave Hilll

UWI, Cave Hilll

Development in any language means change, a break with the past and is people oriented. National Development of which economic development is but a component is personal and qualitative. It depends on our ability to innovate, create and organize and requires an intellectual leap into the future. Resistance to such change is not so much a personal problem but a structural impediment created by the socio-economic system in general and the educational system in particular. In this context our educational system in its current manifestation becomes a repressive developmental factor.

In today’s world the foundation of economic growth and development is the function of human skill not foreign investment. In the world of technology fortunes are made not only in the manufacture off products but by inventing products and processes. Important factors include education and innovation. National development implies the power to create wealth which, in the final analysis depends on our ability to generate new ideas and to turn them into reality.

Here education is crucial. East Asian countries invested huge sums in education designed to facilitate economic growth and industrialisation; their forte product improvement and product creation. The Ivory Coast, a backward country at independence is today a wealthy country. Large sums were invested in education and agriculture rather than industrialisation, and government ensured the implementation and nurturing of programmes needed for development.

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Is Our Education System Relevant in 2013?

For some time the BU family has been concerned that successive governments have been satisfied with throwing money at education and hoping for the best outcomes. The commonsense view routinely expressed on BU that resources should be optimally allocated by aligning the school curriculum to a national policy appears to be an alien concept to the authorities. How do we transform to a high performance jurisdiction if we continue to grow the existing cadre of graduates? How can Barbados nurture and grow its knowledge and skill pool to ensure that we become competitive and productive if we continue to allow the tail to wag the dog? We should have a national strategy which clearly defines the industry segments we know we can compete based on solid research, and educate our people to become the core workforce within those segments.

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Education Model T

Submitted by William Skinner
1920 Model T

1920 Model T

As impossible as it is to produce a car for 2013 on a production line of 1960, so is it to produce a citizen for the new emerging world economy from an education system that has been on automatic pilot since the 1960’s. We are still describing an educational system as the building of school plants but we really need to focus on building citizens.

It is common nowadays to describe some people as brilliant without furnishing the slightest evidence. We have reached the stage of accepting mediocrity and dazzle. We have some scribes amongst us, who have mastered the art of regurgitating every idea they have read or heard somewhere else. We have fallen victim to the over worked clichés but the simple truth is that when separated from all the fancy sound bites, we are really shouting loud, writing pretty but saying absolutely nothing.

There are no real thinkers about and the few that we have, who can really make a difference, we are trying to pull down. Everybody seems to be singing for their political supper; hanging on to useless political coat tails in the hope that the next election cycle would benefit them. Apparently we are acting the way we were educated, to be followers not thinkers.

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Alexandra School Dispute: Remembering the Children

The wonderful sight of teacher and pupil reunited at the Alexandra School - Photo credit Barbados Advocate

The wonderful sight of teacher and pupil reunited at the Alexandra School – Photo credit Barbados Advocate

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enoughLao Tzu

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is defined as all “the  final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time”. Can BU draw a parallel and define the well being of a country by the quality of key decisions made by the  ‘leaders’ in a given period?

The debate which continues to gain traction in Barbados is about the Alexandra dispute and related issues. It has displaced discussion about the upcoming general election, and significantly, a conversation about the state of the economy. If one were to ask any educated Barbadian what issue should be occupying the attention of the country, the answer should be ‘managing the economy’. It does not mean that all the issues at play in the country should be ignored, just that the exigencies of now require priority planning how we allocate resources.

Tension at the Alexandra School has peaked and troughed since 2005, surely an indictment on the management system with oversight for education. Many problems currently being wrestled by the government have straddled both political parties and different personnel in the public service. What it exposes is a rotten core which drives decision making in Barbados.

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Industrial Climate In Barbados Heats Up As a General Election Approaches

Thanks to traditional media for helping us to do a pulse check of the industrial climate in Barbados today (7 January 2013).

  • The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) has threatened to shut down the country if LIME refuse to return to the negotiating table after sending home 97 workers last week.
  • Jeff Broomes has been reported to be on sick leave suffering from hypertension and did not report to his new posting today.
  • BSTU reports that the 18 teachers will report to headquarters until the ministry of education withdraw the transfer letters.

The Alexandra Incestuous Factor

Karen Best, former BUT President and current Deputy Chief Education Officer

Karen Best, former BUT President and current Deputy Chief Education Officer

Minister Jones, visibly shaken and angry, termed the no-show a “gross insult” and the low point of industrial relations practice in the trade union history of Barbados. Mrs Karen Best, president of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), reportedly said she had never seen anything like it in industrial relations. Her [Best] comments clearly indicate her union will not support the BSTU. For the first time that I can remember, there is a split among five unions – the BSTU and Barbados Workers Union (BWU) on one side, the BUT, BAPPSS and NUPW on the other

Nation Newspaper

It seems to be finally hitting home to Barbadians – especially the political partisans – that the Alexandra School dispute (AX) is not so easy to resolve after all. The Frederick Waterman headed commission of inquiry was suppose to wash away the problem which all have to admit predates this government coming to office.

One view of the AX matter which BU has not put under full scrutiny is the incestuous nature of the relationships of key decision makers and participants in the AX plot. Barbados we know is a small country  and there is an inevitability about how personal relationships can shape public perception about how decisions are taken.

Key players in the AX Mess are Principal Jeff Broomes, Minister Ronald Jones, and Deputy Chief Education Officer Karen Best who are ALL products of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT). To complete the BUT connection we should declare that current President of the Barbados Union of Teachers is Pedro Shepherd who recently challenged for the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) nomination in St. Michael South East.

Of special interest to BU is the recent appointment of Karen Best who has responsibility for schools.

‘Ingredients’ for a cabal you think? It gets better.

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Poor Judgment by Public Service Commission

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

The supposed conclusion to the long-running Alexandra debacle appears to have caused more problems than it would have solved. Some might argue, and I am tempted to agree, that the resolution imposed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) has solved nothing. It would appear that the PSC attempted to settle the internecine warfare that was being waged for years by awarding neither side a victory.

The cowardly solution has resulted in over twenty teachers, including all but one of Alexandra’s management team, being transferred and scattered throughout the Teaching Service. It has proven to be unpopular with a majority of those involved in this unsightly mess. Also, it would appear that the PSC did not consider or paid blatant disregard to the harm their actions would be inflicting on the students who are about to take examinations. The teachers will get over the effects of the transfers with time; but the harm inflicted on the children is potentially devastating on those 4th, 5th and 6th form students whose future could very well be affected.

The harm to the education system and the children aside, the justice system in this country could be irreparably damaged by the fallout from the ill-advised actions of the PSC. The Waterman Commission made recommendations for limited transfers, but unfortunately, the PSC went overboard and transferred/punished most, if not all, of the teachers that appeared before the commission of inquiry as witnesses.

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Alexandra School: "Separation" and Sacrifice

Submitted by Yardbroom
Ronald Jordan reacts to his transfer to Alexandra - Image credit - Nation

Ronald Jordan reacts to his transfer to Alexandra – Image credit Nation

I wonder how many of those teachers, who assiduously canvassed for the Head to be “separated” from the school, thought that they too would be separated, and if they did, why did they fight with such alacrity [eagerness]?…I have only posed a question.

The general idea from the present Government’s perspective was to solve a major problem and this up to a point they have done. The main players are no longer at the school, the school has an opportunity to do what it is mandated to do…teach children and thus move on.

Many of the major participants will never be the force they once were and some at the end of careers, will be remembered for things they would rather forget.

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Jeff Broomes TRANSFERRED – Alexandra Dispute Matter Revisited: The Waterman Report

The following is a critique of the Alexandra Inquiry matter by Senior Law Lecturer at the University of the West Indies Jeff Cumberbatch and a BU family member.

Senior Law Lecturer Jeff Cumberbatch - reproduced from the Barbados Advocate - 04 October 2009

Senior Law Lecturer Jeff Cumberbatch – reproduced from the Barbados Advocate – 04 October 2009

There is an English equivalent, but the French, in their own inimitable way, put it so much more elegantly: “Plus ça change, plus la même chose” – the more things change, the more they remain the same. This might have been the exact sentiment of more than a few objective bystanders after the public release of the report of the Waterman Commission of Inquiry into the Alexandra School. From all accounts, those who were, before the report – see WATERMAN REPORT, in favour of the censure of Mr. Jeff Broomes, the principal, for his alleged misdeeds, now feel a sense of vindication by the report that has recommended, inter alia, his “separation” from that institution. On the other hand, those who were firmly in his corner previously and of the view that he had done nothing wrong, have chosen to reject the commission’s findings in that regard. These opinions are to be expected. But what of the report itself? Has the commission really achieved its objective after the comparatively substantial sums spent on its production?

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The Teaching Profession

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank/Watchdog Group

Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

For some time, the society as a whole has been vehement in blaming our teachers for what many consider as deteriorating educational standards. Mahogany Coconut is of the view that such blame is unfounded and unfair. When we examine our educational system, we conclude that the vast majority of our teachers are competent and extremely professional. However, we do not subscribe to the view that they are poorly paid. Taking into consideration our resources, their salaries are comparable if not more attractive than those in many developing countries. We also suggest that our school plant, at all levels, is vastly superior to what obtains in many of our neighboring island states.

Since the mid 70’s, the collective DLP/BLP government, has systematically succeeded in damaging the image of our teachers and the general public has supported the DLP/BLP. As far back as the late 60’s and early 70’s, there have been clashes with prominent educators and our political leaders. The late and distinguished Dame Elsie Payne and Prime Minister Errol Barrow; the Glasgow affair at the Lodge School are two that stand out. Mr. Clyde Griffith, former BLP senator, once said that all teachers do is frequent rum shops. Former minister of Education Sir Louis Tull (BLP) lied on teachers by suggesting that they did not want to supervise the children during lunch. According to him, this lack of supervision meant that young children were eating lunch, after going to the “toilets”, without washing their hands thereby running the risk of spreading disease. This lie was told simply because teachers wanted their full lunch hour, after supervising the children.Mr.Tull was brilliant enough to take a simple trade union request(BUT) and turn it into a health issue.

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Minister Of Sinckler Defends Performance In Difficult Circumstances

Minister of Finance at a St. James Branch meeting held on the weekend defended government’s performance in difficult times. The unveiling of several projects by government has forced many Barbadians to ask  how will they be financed and how quickly will they be mobilized.

National Development and Education

Submitted by Looking Glass

The creation of an “educated underclass” is very costly and distinctly regressive.

Development in any language means change. National development of which economic development/industrialisation is but a component requires a significant break with the past. It requires structural change and an intellectual leap into the future. Resistance to such change is a structural impediment created by the socio-economic system. The educational system in its current manifestation is a very costly repressive factor in the development process.

National development of which economic development is part implies the power to create wealth. It is dependent on our ability to generate ideas and turn them into reality.

Development is qualitative; growth like the GNP refers to the increase in size and is quantitative. GNP refers to the total value of goods and services produced. It includes consumption, investment, government spending and the excess of imports over exports. Changes in GNP do not necessarily reflect positive changes in the economic or social structure of the country. Economic prosperity involves qualitative factors. In today’s world the foundation of growth is human skill. One of the most important factors in development is education, the kind that provides a broad general knowledge, facilitates managerial competence and innovation. The latter will be manifested in new product creation and production.

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UPDATE On Alexandra School Matter – Strike Action LOOMS!

Laurie King, Chief Education Officer (l) Ronald Jones, Minister of Education (r)

Mona Robinson, the general secretary of the BSTU wrote to the Chief Education Officer, Mr King, by letter dated Sunday 02 September 2012. The letter was received 03 September 2012. The subject of the letter purports to be in order to clarify matters relating to Alexandra School.

BU notes that this letter was copied to the Permanent Secretary in the MoE, among others. BU also notes with considerable surprise that the letter is NOT copied to BSTU’s counsel, Mr Hal Gollop. May we therefore infer that BSTU has written and sent this letter without having taken competent legal advice?

Ms Robinson, referencing comments made by Mr King on 31 August 2012 states that there are no assurances given in respect of comments on Jeff Broomes and demands that BSTU be supplied with answers in writing to the list of 10 points.

These points include, but are not limited to:

Read full report

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The AX Matter Moves To The Next Phase

Commissioner Frederick Waterman – Photo Credit: Nation

The final arguments from lawyers representing all parties in the Alexandra School Dispute have been submitted and Barbadians await the report from lone Commissioner Frederick Waterman. It is obviously the report will be delivered before the September school term begins.

There was a sense by BU during the last two weeks of the Inquiry that it was hurried along; and for an obvious reason. The  first school term is scheduled to begin on the 10 September 2012 and given known timelines the Waterman Report will be late. Therefore the 64k question is – what will be the next phase of the AX Affair?

It is early days yet to evaluate the performance of the Alexandra Commission. However, BU is concerned the Commissioner made some questionable decisions which will impact the quality of the final report.  For example, it is understood from our sources that the aunt of Miss X whom we reported on another blog the student in the transcript affair was to go to live in the USA to facilitate school there, was in Barbados and prepared to give evidence. BU understands she was seized with interesting bits of information as a result of her visit to the school to which Miss X was to attend and where the transcript was allegedly sent by the secretary. Our source has advised that she had proof no such transcript was received by the US school. A reasonable conclusion to be made, the transcript was never sent. We have been reliably advised that Commissioner Waterman refused to allow this witness to be called.

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Are The Storm Clouds Gathering?

Submitted by Ping Pong (as a comment)

Hon Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

Two recent news items have caused me to ponder on the future of young Barbadians. The first is the Minister of Education’s musing that future scholarship winners may not be bonded to return and work in Barbados on completion of their studies. Is this tacit acknowledgement that Barbados may not be reasonably able to employ these graduates? The second item of news is the reported level of indebtedness of Barbados to UWI. Apparently, jobs as well as student admissions are threatened.

While we enjoy the charade that is the Alexandra inquiry and pontificate on the definition of education etc, is it unreasonable to worry that the future development and employment prospects of our young people is growing dim? It appears that as the CSME experiment has been shelved (or was still born) I must ask what other plans are there to expand the opportunities of our many well certified graduates?

The Education System – Fixing the Model

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank/ Watch Dog Group.

Hon Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

The problems in education do not spring from a lack of resources; in fact, while a considerable portion of our money is indeed spent on education, it is certainly wasted on the model /approach.

It is most convenient to: blame the teachers for the decline in discipline; police for the increase in crime; nurses for the problems at the QEH and civil servants for the inability of successive governments to restructure or reform our economy. We protect the new black elite managerial class and turn a blind eye to their transgressions. We submit that the problems we now confront in our society, are to a great degree hatched within an education system, that has not seen any serious reforms for the last forty or so years.

The education system has failed because while it writes off thousands of our children, it guarantees very small elite all the comforts. Failure will continue, once the “eleven plus” remains the corner stone of our education system.

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Notes From a Native Son: Alexandra School is a Metaphor for Failure of a System

Hal Austin

The crisis at Alexandra School, being played out before the nation, is but a reflection of the generally meltdown in education in Barbados. Although the Inquiry itself may be the public humiliation of a man, his stubbornness and the notorious Barbadian culture of spite and vindictiveness, the message it sends to the rest of the world is not a very nice one.

There are two broad reasons for this symptom of decline: first, the authorities have failed to make education as attractive professionally as law or medicine and, therefore, have not seen it necessary to spend a reasonable share of GDP on education, nor to attract the best graduates, because they do not appreciate its central importance in the future development of the nation.

Second, there is a traditional policy of promoting the longest serving and best connected person, rather than the most competent and best able. We must skip a generation in order to professionalise teaching. Following on from this is a lack of proper training provisions for teachers at all grades, and especially head teachers, who are not only the senior teachers in schools, but also the chief executive of the enterprise.

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Diminishing Returns To Education

Submitted by Looking Glass

UWI,Cave Hill

Theoretically economic laws tell us that if we connect all the world knowledge pools and promote greater trade and integration the global pie will become larger and more complex. Implicit is the trickle down effect which will increase the living standards of the masses. Also implicit is the greater and more specialize the knowledge the greater will be the amount and value of jobs coming on stream. Hence the nation able to significantly increase it s knowledge force will enjoy a larger share of the pie. Among other things the theory assumes rationality of behaviour which is simply not the case. The global playing field may be flat but certainly not level. Countries differ in terms of the amount of land space, natural resources, people, markets and power. For this reason especially post secondary education should be structured to facilitate strategic development as is the case in China and other countries.

Not long ago the goal, an extension of no child left behind and unique only to Barbados was said to be a university graduate in every household by 2020.

The Pro Vice Chancellor told the Cabinet he envisioned 12000 students in the next 4 years of which 20% will be masters and doctoral grads (Advocate 2/22/2011). Now Tertiary education is said to be “critical to the strategic development of the country.” The Cave Hill Campus and the expansion should be seen as a growth area. Having a township to accommodate 15,000 will make a “profound contribution to the country’s development” (Advocate 05/07/2012).

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The Alexandra School Commission Of Inquiry – Part II

Jeff Broomes, Headmaster of Alexandra School

The Alexandra School Commission of Inquiry continues to enjoy rap attention of Barbadians. In response to requests BU starts Part II of The Alexandra School Commission Of Inquiry to ensure commenters are not inconvenienced by the burgeoning comments.

The Parliament of Barbados voted today (24/07/2012) to allocate $598,000 to pay for the Inquiry.

From a Native Son – Economic Prosperity is Tied up with Improved Education

Hal Austin

It seems as if the ambitions of Sir Hilary Beckles has no limit, given the revelations that the UWI now has plans to occupy the grand Mutual building at the bottom of Broad Street as a campus for part-timers. Somehow it seems as if the notion of prudent spending in these tough times does not apply to the empire-building of Sir Hilary.

In a crude way, it is the exploitation of the nation’s traditional love of education and qualifications, by a university administrator who seems to behave like a horse out of control. As a small island-state, we do not have an abundance of natural resources, Ivy League universities, or even a vast military to enforce our policies. What we do have is a nation hungry for education and a willingness to go to great lengths to educate ourselves, our children and our fellow citizens. Somehow, and for some reason, this reality has rarely impacted with our education policymakers.

Our education policymakers, many of them educated at Cave Hill, seem intimidated by the very idea of imposing tough conditions and benchmarks on Sir Hilary and driving the Cave Hill campus in to the belt-tightening 21st century. In fact, so poor is our education policymaking that since the end of the Second World War, Cameron Tudor still remains out outstanding minister of education. And to believe that we have declined from Tudor, whatever his faults, to the present minister Ronald Jones and the gross incompetence of Alexandra School, is a slap in the face to a once great island.

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Notes From a Native Son: Material Poverty and the Poverty of Ideas, An Issue for Government

Hal Austin

The present government – which has been in control for most of the post-internal self-government years and after four years at the helm this time round  – has suddenly realised that poverty is a major social problem in Barbados. As the old people used to say, it is better late than never – even if we are talking about a nation that pats itself on the shoulder repeatedly telling the world how developed it now is and about its 99 per cent literacy and is prepared to roll out the methodologically flawed UN Human Index report as evidence. Both fictions, of course, but why allow such facts, with their brutish, painful reality, to get in the way of  a good story.

The real scandal of post-independence Barbados is the recent government’s admission that nearly 20 per cent of Barbadians (19.3 per cent) are living on annual incomes below $7861, in other words, abject poverty. In real terms, that means over 50000 Barbadians are living on about $150 a week, with the likely figure much higher, if we were to include those who are two pay days away from losing their homes. We can be certain that most of the official poor will be the elderly, young unemployed, single parents, the disabled and people with mental problems. Further, with inflation running at about 12 per cent, VAT on food, clothes, and other essentials, the people who can least afford it are paying a high price for government manipulation of the inflation numbers.

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Island Hopping With Emera

Barbados Light and Power headquarters on Bay Street

Barbados is the latest Caribbean island to feel the Emera Squeeze

by Miles Howe

On a small island north of Venezuela, 4,500 kilometres from Halifax, Barbados Light and Power (BLP) recently issued a news release. Energy use on the Caribbean island has hit a low not seen since 1974.

“Some people are now simply just turning off all the electricity in their homes, especially when they’re not home,” says Carson Cardogan, a Barbadian ratepayer. “They’re pulling out everything. Every plug. Including the fridge. People are living virtually in the dark, in order to not pay Barbados Light and Power the hefty electricity bills.”

While the average Canadian might applaud such a downward shift in power consumption, this is not a question of Barbadians “going green” by choice. It is the work of Nova Scotia’s Emera, BL&P’s new owner.

Emera, the Nova Scotia-based company with a penchant for electricity generation, moved fast onto the scene in Barbados, purchasing a 38 per cent share in the largely nationally-owned BL&P in May 2010, and another 41 per cent in January 2011. When shares in BLP were trading at $12 on the Barbados stock market, Emera, which has been making ambitious purchases and clocking record profits since 2010, offered BL&P shareholders $25 per share – an offer they could not refuse. A few dissenting voices, on call-in programs and social media panels, urged caution against selling off the national power company to a foreign interest, but the deal went through unencumbered.

Read full article at Halifax Media Co-op

Notes From a Native Son: A Cautionary Tale Of An Education System In Decline, Alexandra Impasse The Symptom

Hal Austin

What is Barbados coming to when in the early years of the 21st century a small group of teachers can walk out of a school on the grounds that they do not like the head’s management style and his competence as an administrator?

What is even more scandalous is that government and trade unions are taking this rag bag of activists seriously and crippling the education of some of our brightest young people, the very future of Barbados. In the midst of all this our prime minister remains embarrassingly dumb, unable to even call a successful meeting of both sides.

Of course, the obvious action is to give the teachers a deadline to return to the classroom and start teaching the pupils, and set a date for serious discussions of their grievances. But it must be made clear in no uncertain terms that no matter what they think of the head’s management style, it is not a striking issue. We cannot replace one perceived sense of bullying with another, because one side is shouting louder than the other.

The crisis at the Alexandra School also exposes the inability of the minister of education to deliver on his duties, and the street-fighting bullying tactics of a small clique of trade unions. Those of us who are big supporters of and active trade unions can only look on in amazement as a major union, not involved in the silly show of strength at the school, has now thrown its considerable weight behind its sister union.

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“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”

Principals in the Alexandra School Dispute

As an expression of our disgust caused by the Alexandra dispute Barbados Underground will not update new blogs until strike action ends.

Education is regarded as a fundamental human right and the absence of 30 teachers from the classrooms of the Alexandra School for close to two weeks is a failure on the part of leadership of Barbados. The frightening reality that the ‘fracture’ has occurred in the education sector should place an accent on the gravamen of the challenge which confronts us.

Think on these things Barbados.

The Alexandra Matter: The Role Of The CPO and NUPW

Dennis Clarke, General Secretary (l) Walter Maloney, President (r) NUPW 'Big Boys'

Nearly two weeks have passed since the BSTU instituted action against the principal of the Alexandra School Jeff Broome. Up to late yesterday [14 Jan 2012] there appeared to be no resolution to the matter. A meeting held under the chairmanship of Minister of Education Ronald Jones only served to proved BU’s position, management systems in Barbados have become seriously compromised as a result of incestuous practices by  stakeholders.

It is clear the BSTU Executive believes so strongly in their cause that they are prepared to disrupt the relatively calm industrial relations climate in Barbados even if the children have to be made to suffer in the process. Their position is further demonstrated by a deliberate move away from following ‘normal’ grievance procedure. Regrettably the matter is deliberately being waged in the court of public opinion. While there are advantages to enticing public support sometimes, it should be done based on the full facts of the matter being revealed. It is evident that the cause of the industrial action by the BSTU is as a result of grievances which have been poorly managed over the years and left to fester. The speech day incident appears to be the straw which broke the camel’s back.

If we are to believe the underground chatter there is more to the mortar than the pestle. If local media intends to give honest coverage to this matter the public deserves to be seized of relevant information. If this is not possible because of legal considerations then the honourable thing is to avoid inflammatory reports like those we have been reading in the NATION for the past week.

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Alexandra School Impasse: A Massive Failure Of Public Service Administration

By Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

The impasse featuring the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the Principal of Alexandra School, Mr. Jeff Broomes can only be characterized as a comedy of errors or rather a tragedy of incompetence on the part of the Ministry of Education and the Personnel Administration Division. Before I proceed, let me state that I am firmly behind the BSTU. Nonetheless, I will endeavour to be fair to all sides.

The BSTU is one of the oldest trade unions in Barbados, with a proud history of achievements on behalf of its members. In the recent past, it has been overshadowed by the younger and more partisan political Barbados Union of Teachers whose main achievements, in its relatively short history, seems to be positioning its executive officers for higher office in the Ministry of Education and now in Government. But for its constant wrangling with Jeff Broomes, the BSTU goes about its business, almost unnoticed by the public, in a calm and dignified manner.

On the other hand, Mr. Broomes, who has been able to mount a façade of caring for the children in his charge, continues to provoke controversy whenever he is out of the limelight for any extended period. He usually catapults himself to national notice by making statements that are calculated to be controversial, and then he invites reaction by saying things like, “Bring it on!” Rather than keep quiet in order to avoid an escalation of the current episode, he allowed himself to be quoted in the Nation saying that he would do it again. He is aware of what transpired when he made the offending statement the first time. Why would he do it again if not to enflame passions and call attention to himself? However, while he is basking in all the attention that he is receiving, the children that he loves and cares so much about that should be his focus are going without instruction at this crucial juncture.

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Submitted by Ellis Chase

University of the West indies, Cave Hill

There has been something of a debate on the funding of higher education in Barbados recently. As is typical, and strange for a well educated country, clear facts and hard information have largely been absent, and persons seem to be taking political and ideological positions. The Nation newspaper recently ran an article about UWI finances after a public pronouncement by the Finance and Economic Affairs Minister. The article prompted me to seek out some hard information on UWI finances, and I was shocked at how hard it was to get some. Finally, after some wheeling and dealing I got my hands on the UWI, Cave Hill audited financials for the period 1999 to 2009.

Read full article

Proactive Measures Needed In Education, Holy Water To Ward Off Demons Will Not Cut It!

Submitted by Charles Knighton

Hon Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

Featured on the CBC newscast of Wednesday September 28th, was a segment dedicated to the opening of the Blackman and Gollop Primary School, at the end of which a priest anointed the school with “Holy Water”. Together with the minister of Education and Human Resource Development Ronald Jones’ claims of demonic possession of students as well as Magdalena (Maggie) Griffith, purportedly a teacher and Deliverance Minister claiming she has “heard demons talking to me through children” (weekend Nation, page 11) I had to wonder what treatment (if any) is accorded the humanistic revival of classical art, architecture, literature and learning of the European Renaissance in Barbadian schools?

Perhaps instead children are being regaled with reminiscences of the salubrious effects of the Dark Ages, inclusive of the Inquisition and the burning of “witches” at the stake? Perhaps instead of a field trip to Pine Hill Dairy students could gain inspiration by visiting the workplaces of local psychics, or by visiting gullies would discover the supernatural realm of elves, sprites and fairies?

Just wondering.