REFORM THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM OF BARBADOS – SEP 27, 2017 BY EDMUND G. HINKSON, ST. JAMES NORTH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
The educational system of any country must ultimately provide the opportunity for young persons, on reaching adulthood, to have developed the character, competence and personal responsibility traits that they will need to be successful independent citizens. Barbados’ educational policy must be geared towards inculcating in our children characteristics such as self-esteem, self-confidence, industry and the spirit of volunteerism at a very early stage of their school careers.
After ten years of stagnation and in fact a decline in the quality of our country’s educational system at the point of its delivery, too many of our youth do not display such characteristics on becoming adults. Under the Democratic Labour Party administration in the three year period between 2013-4 and 2016-7, Barbados has in fact declined sixteen places from 6th to 22nd on the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report in terms of the quality of our educational system.
A new Barbados Labour Party Government needs to place greater emphasis on developing the social and interactive skills of our children as well as developing their care, sensitivity and tolerance towards other’s needs and interests. Our educational system must seek to engender in our children, even in their early childhood education, a more positive attitude towards others and a greater appreciation of the differing cultures and environments which exist among our Caribbean people and among our fellow global citizens. Additionally, our youth must be provided with the necessary ability to think critically, to solve problems and to resolve conflict rather than to engage in physical confrontation or violence.
An Incoming Barbados Labour Party Administration will strive tirelessly to create a safe and nurturing educational and social environment within which our young people can fulfil their maximum potential. As a Progressive Government, it would understand that heavier investment in science and technology, business, art, creative industries and culture is required, even from our primary school system. This would act as a catalyst for the creation of innovative products and services as well as for the development of entrepreneurship in our Island.
As policymakers, a Barbados Labour Party Government needs to ensure that our current educational system is seriously reformed to cater to a wider cross-section of non-academics. It is estimated that approximately fifty per cent of our children leave secondary school without any formal certification. Rather than be classified as failures, these school-leavers need to be given the opportunity to enter a youth service programme which would ultimately provide them with some of the technical and vocational skills required to succeed in this increasingly competitive world.
A new Barbados Labour Party political directive must ultimately restore the position which previously existed up until three years ago whereby young people are not deprived of tertiary education just because they cannot financially afford it.
An Incoming Barbados Labour Party Administration will recognize that more children with disabilities, many of whom have unique skills just waiting to be given the opportunity to be tapped, must be brought into our mainstream educational system. They will consequently be better equipped when they become adults to realize their full potential. As is their entitlement as citizens, they should be given the opportunity to contribute to national development and to participate positively in our socio-economic and political affairs.
Our educational system has not undergone any curriculum reform since 2000 under the Ministerial Leadership of the Honourable Mia Mottley with the Honourable Cynthia Forde as her Parliamentary Secretary. It has to be reformed in the very near future to produce a larger percentage of young Barbadians who are productive, self-reliant, capable and multilingual global citizens with the confidence that they can make a decent living anywhere in the world.
Edmund Gregory Hinkson Member of Parliament, St. James North, Attorney-at-Law and Shadow Education Minister.