The University of the West Indies’ plan to have at least one of its graduates in each Barbadian household has become the casualty of “focussed criticism”.
Instead, the Cave Hill Campus’ Principal, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, announced today, the focus would now be on producing “knowledge households”, with a heavy emphasis on technology.
The Pro-Vice Chancellor made the disclosure this morning at the campus as he, other UWI officials and representatives from telecommunications company LIME, spoke about the collaboration, which has seen UWI Barbados’ 50 anniversary depicted on the cover of the 2012/2013 telephone directory.
UWI’s most recent strategic plan had spoken of the one graduate per household goal, but the idea was criticised by some senior members of the current Democratic Labour Party Administration, who suggested the educational institution was focussing more on quantity than quality. While noting his organisation had “thought that it was the best way to focus attention on investing in the human resources of the country, liberating the intellectual capacity of the citizens, creating the skills base required for the country and also helping families focus on the education of their children”, Sir Hilary said there was now a change of heart.
“That concept as you know was embraced by all sectors of the society, but in recent years (it) has run into some focussed criticism, which said that the emphasis of at least one graduate per household concept was too quantitative, it spoke of numbers,” he said.
“We have 110,000 households on this island and we spoke about how we were gong to focus on each household and the emphasis was to one dimensional and we were speaking of numbers and we needed to focus more precisely on the household as a body of network relationships.”
“So fine, … we went back to the drawing board and we look at this whole thing and we said ‘Fine, what we need to do is to move the concept of at least one graduate per household to a higher level, … refashion it’. And having refashioned it, we came up with the concept that the role of the campus, the university in Barbados, is to produce knowledge households and that is the concept which we are now working with,” he added.
The principal added that while the critics had said the one graduate mantra was too one dimensional, UWI was now going to “a higher level”.
“A knowledge household is a household that has within it students and graduates, a knowledge household must have within it the technologies of learning, they must have Internet, they must have broadband, they must have all the technologies … to access knowledge, do their research, collect information, and to participate in the digital area,” he explained.
“If a household is not so equipped, if it is not so invested with those technologies, then it has a difficulty… A knowledge household is a household that is committed to the education of all of its members.”
He said he saw a need to refocus attention on education and learning in Barbados and the wider region, especially among working class families.
“There was a view that that concept [was] slipping in the societies and that may be families were not as aggressive in promoting and being advocates of education as they use to be. We need to rekindle that spirit in every household, focussed on the education of children, driven by a commitment to learn, to acquire new knowledge, to access information and to take that information and use it for self empowerment,” he said.
“These are the households that our society must be made of because these are the households that will be the infrastructure of the knowledge economy, and the knowledge economies going forward are the economies that will survive.” (SC)