Entire population must help reimagine education

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley says that the reimagining of the local education system is a function of national development.

Mottley was making this point during her feature address at the Caribbean Association of Principals of Secondary Schools’ 29th Biennial Conference at Accra Beach Hotel yesterday.

Outlining the current education system was predicated on the 1940s British education system, which changed drastically after the 1944 Education Act was passed, Mottley said the discussion over changing it has been around for a long time.

“Critical thinking wasn’t only being spoken about in the 21st Century,” she began. “When I was Minister of Education in 1994, we understood as far back as 30 years ago that we needed to change it. The problem is that to change the education system was not a function of the Ministry of Education, which sounds strange, doesn’t it? To reimagine the education system is a function of national development, not even Government development, because it takes the good will of the entire population.”

She continued her point by saying that although it can’t be everyone as there will always be those that disagreed, it was vital that the majority of people in society buy into the idea of doing the heavy lifting.

“We see that what we are doing may work for some, but not for sufficient, not for enough of our people. We cannot in the context of a post-Independent Caribbean that wants to see people, hear people and feel people be satisfied, that we are prepared to leave some people at the side of the road as if they belong to another species, as if they do not deserve the dignity of being human. We have come to this point as a nation and as a new republic to say that our duties do not only associate with growth or an elite.”

Mottley further illustrated her point by likening the current system to that of farming.

“Are we going to continue to have an industrial education system driven to push people through like cattle for the most part?” she asked. “I don’t mean to be offensive with the analogy but it is almost like herding people through the system and the top three or four percent (of students) out of every class get taken and put into one place. It is ten out of ten in one school and the same for another school. Then other schools are ten out of ten too, but for different reasons.

“Does this sound sensible to you? Does this sound sensible to people who have the responsibility for crafting their own future and perpetuating their own civilisation? If it doesn’t sound appropriate then what are we going to do about it?” Mottley concluded.

Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw (Picture by Lennox Devonish)

Her comments followed Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw’s speech where she highlighted a commitment to a path to modernising education in Barbados.

“As we go forward with education in Barbados, we are building on a firm foundation, one that is fair to all students, teachers and our partners in education. One that is inclusive and catering to the challenged and the gifted, one that is relevant and modern,” Archer-Bradshaw said.

She told the principals in attendance that during the process of reimagining various systems to improve education quality, they must ensure that teachers of the highest calibre are not only recruited, but are commonplace within schools. (JC)

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