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AW RIGHT DEN! Wuh dah?

Corey Worrell

AW RIGHT DEN! Wuh dah?

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The state of the economy has been on the lips of many Barbadians for quite some time. Interestingly, most of our opinions and comments are somewhat influenced by the discussions we hear from others and not based on a true understanding of what has taken place and what decisions are being made.
Commonly used economic terms and words such as fiscal policy, medium-term fiscal strategy, GDP, gross domestic product, the peg, devaluation, downgrade, printing of money, rating agencies, government paper, bonds, double taxation, concessions, foreign debt, capital projects, inflation, austerity measures, domestic and foreign debt, private sector capital flows, foreign reserves, expenditures and revenues, deflation, deficit, amortisation and fiscal consolidation often fly over the heads of many Barbadians causing them to ask the question, “Wuh Dah?”
I was lost by many of these terms but I made an effort to read and find friends who could explain them to me. It was only after reading and receiving help that I realised how important it is for more Barbadians to understand what these terms mean. I still don’t understand everything, but I am more knowledgeable than I was months ago.
I use this opportunity to let you know that I am working on a series of short videos explaining what these terms mean, how they are used and how they affect us as a nation and individually. I wouldn’t be the person defining these terms, so no need to worry.
It seems our leaders are focusing all their efforts on stimulating growth in the economy or stabilising it. My concern is that there is a sector that throughout this entire process has not been addressed. The education sector is critical if what ever policies we establish to stimulate grow is to be sustained.
There are few short-term solutions to our poor economic performance. Therefore, any significant turnaround will be in the medium to long term. If this is indeed so, it means that our education sector needs reforming and modernising so that it will support and sustain the policies established and be more relevant to a developing and globalised environment.
This reformation will take time, as it will require lots of planning, assessments, trials, risks and tons of “guts and boldness”. The question remains, who will be man or woman enough to start the process? It is often said, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. My reply is, if it isn’t broken, check it to see if it needs upgrading.
A few months ago, I was browsing Bajan Marketplace on Facebook and saw someone selling a discman. I was so shocked and burst out laughing. A discman can still be used today, but the world has evolved, making them irrelevant.
Based on where the world is going, our education system is like the discman; it works, but has served its time and needs modernising.
 The future success and relevance of this nation is heavily dependent on the type of education our young people receive. It has brought us this far and it will continue to be the engine that takes us to our future. It is on this foundation that I state my disagreement with the way in which the UWI tuition fees was introduced and implemented.
I am not convinced that the Government explored all other options and made all necessary cuts and adjustments to other organisations and departments before their decision to make Barbadians pay for their local tertiary education.
 Since the decision has been made and doesn’t seem like it will be reversed, I need to ask this question. If students are required to pay tuition fees to UWI, what would stop them from taking that same money and pursuing an online degree from a higher ranked institution or travel to an international university to pursue their studies while staying with family?
As I close, I ask that all taxpayers to demand from the Minister of Education a published report of all secondary schools – end of term and CXC performance and grades. You need to know if your money is yielding a good return. You might very well be shocked at the results.
• Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.