EDITORIAL: Kudos on a good move
In these challenging economic times when creative thinking among our political leaders seems to be somewhere between scarce and non-existent, this week’s disclosure by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) that it is on a path to provide a “second chance” to some of our youth is good news.
We congratulate the union for recognising the strategic position in which it sits, and also accepting that the country is looking to such organisations to do more than just flex muscle and talk loudly. And we say this while readily accepting that our political directorate has given the union just cause to be agitated.
Up front we also believe that congratulations are in order for the principal of the Parkinson Memorial Secondary School, Jeff Broomes, for being a key player in the initiative, as well as the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL) for putting money behind the venture, at a time when an increasing number of companies are using the state of their bottom line to justify their retreat from community involvement.
According to the NUPW’s retiring general secretary Dennis Clarke, the aim is to provide an opportunity for the many Barbadian youth who end school without certification to return to the classroom to prepare themselves for the increasingly competitive job market.
This is extremely important because as the level of unemployment rises – and we see no evidence to suggest this will not continue for a while – those who have left school with no certification will find themselves competing against a larger number of persons with a higher level of qualification for lower paying jobs.
A bachelor of arts or science degree does not automatically make a candidate a better worker, but it certainly provides the holder with an improved chance of being shortlisted, and then getting a foot in the door. And when the person with that degree finds himself or herself vying for the same job as the school leaver with three or four CXC passes, the fellow with no certificates will find himself fighting a losing battle.
But it does not end there, because we are sure that one of the NUPW’s motivating factors is that such persons can quickly become despondent and before it is realised can present the country with social challenges it can least afford.
“In this country, lots of children leave school at ages 16 and 17 with no certification or one certificate and can do almost nothing,” Broomes said. “They find themselves on the block. They find themselves being pulled by all different types of distractions that are no good for our country and we have decided that we will have a virtual day school . . . where children can come and be taught.
“We have not identified the curriculum yet, but certainly, things like English language and mathematics, integrated science and social studies will probably form part of it. [The course of study will] at least give them an opportunity to get two or three or four certificates to make themselves more marketable.”
This is a cause that is worthy of support and we encourage other commercial entities to follow the path of the ICBL. The need for this initiative is absolutely clear, and hiding behind some lofty statistic of national literacy means nothing – other than that perhaps we need to reshape our definition of literacy.
Good move Mr Clarke. Pull this off and your name will live on at Dalkeith and in Barbados for much more than your constant battles with Government.