A Jacket for Jack

We are doing our students a grave disservice. 

Submitted by Dr. Grenville Phillips II

Once again, the Ministry of Education has proposed some type of educational reform to address the fact that most students leave school with no certificate evidence of having regularly attended.

After a lot of reported consultations, an outline of an educational reform plan has been revealed – with much public relations fanfare.  Tragically, we seem to be planning to go from bad to worse, as if that were even possible.


The fundamental problem with our educational system is that it is not designed for all of our students.  It is principally designed for the 20% of students who happen to understand the taught information earlier than their classmates, whether through parental support or their own initiatives.

Instead of addressing this root cause, we have decided to create separate schools of excellence.  This will simply give the 20% of early-learners more learning options, while continuing to disqualify the majority of our students from the main benefits of a secondary school education.

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Education: MORE REFORM

Submitted by Paula Sealy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has the NACE been replaced by the Unit?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

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

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

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

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

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