AWRIGHT DEN: A failing plant
To all those citizens who for the past eight weeks, enjoyed sleeping in a few minutes more, taking their time to get ready and leaving home later than usual, those days are over. Yup, it’s that time again, the start of a new school term and year. It’s the time of the hectic mornings, rushing to get out the house, eating breakfast in the car and sitting for long periods in traffic.
I once heard on Brass Tacks a moderator say that Bajans are fortnight complainers and I agree with him. I have also observed that we easily forget and become complacent and relaxed very quickly.
Only a few weeks ago, the entire country was passionately sharing their views, anger, disappointments and frustrations with the state and management of the country, the lack of inspirational and efficient leadership from our leaders, the downgrades and lack of growth in the economy and tourism sector, the retrenchment of workers other than by the last in, first out process, and the municipal solid waste tax.
Based on the general national silence, one would think that the complaints and voices of the people were heard, these problems had been solved and we are now on a path of growth, confidence and productivity.
For the last four years, the economy has been the main concern of Barbadians and no one can disagree that this is important. My concern is that there has been little to no serious debate on an area of society that is equally as important, and is needed to sustain any policies, initiatives and projects created. That area is education.
Outside the discussion regarding money owed to the University of the West Indies and Barbadians having to pay their own tuition cost to the university, there has been no other serious discussion on the education sector. I consider this a tragedy.
I am sure that Arawak Cement Plant, Banks, Pine Hill Dairy and Roberts Manufacturing have all modified and updated their production plants to modern state-of-the-art facilities in order to produce a product that is marketable, relevant and can compete on the international market.
My goodness, even the supermarkets, telecommunication companies and car dealerships are updating and modernising their companies and operations to be able to function adequately in a growing globalised environment.
I am still lost and still can’t understand how we in Barbados continue to use a 1960s education plant and expect to produce a competitive 21st century product. Too many of our products do not make it off the production line and unless the plant is modernised, the Barbados we know and may want to see will remain only a dream.
Imagine children are being rewarded for mediocre performances by being promoted to a higher year level even though they have not reached the required standard. The excuse given is that of space.
Well, here is a grim reality: our secondary schools may continue to promote them even though they have failed, but CXC will not give them a Grade 1, 2 or 3 unless they achieve it.
Imagine the frustration teachers have when three-quarters of a fourth form cannot do simple second form mathematics.
I sat with an English teacher while she was correcting a composition written by third formers and it sounded like a story written by a group of Class 3 students. A university lecturer could not believe his first year physics class struggled to make ‘M’ the subject in the F=MA equation.
We often hear of the few scholarship winners at CXC but never hear the statistics of how many of the students who were entered for various subjects actually passed in comparison of those who failed.
How is it that no one is willing to call a spade a spade, be bold and reveal the problems with this “education plant”? Eventually all will be revealed and the damage may be so bad, it may take a very long time to recover.
The longer we wait to modernise, rest assured there will be a rise in lawlessness and unproductivity amongst our young people.
The question remains: is our 1960s education plant relevant to the needs of our 21st century children?
• Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.