Far from adequate
by Latoya Burnham
Secondary school students want more vocational and cultural options on the curriculum.
This call was made today by a number of young people who attended a Ministry of Education forum called EduNATION Barbados – Let’s Talk Education, at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed. The forum was part of an outreach platform celebrating 50 years of universal free education in Barbados.
Khadisha Baker, of St. James Secondary, one of the three most vocal schools at the forum, said that the discussion about the benefits of education was one they had just raised this week.
She said the children were born with different abilities and she believed those talents should be catered for in school.
“Everybody is born with their individual talents and in the school system … everybody was trained to think doctor, lawyer or nurse or psychologist are the best jobs; but everybody does not have the ability to be a lawyer or doctor, or whatever the case might be.
“I might be … good with my hands. I might be able to make jewellery. There might be someone else with a very dramatic personality that would be good in drama. However, our education system does not cater for that in the secondary schools. We have certain subjects like Spanish, Science and not everybody has a scientific mind.
“We had an exchange student from England at our school and she was telling us about the creative and performance schools there. I was saying we should have something like that as well so we would be able to express [ourselves] the way other countries do,” suggested Baker.
It was easy to look at other countries and marvel at what those youth were able to achieve, whereas in Barbados students were not being motivated to pursue their interests in the same way, she said to loud applause from the other students present.
“We don’t necessarily have to have performing art schools because that will cost money, but we can bring it into the secondary schools that we already have to give the students a better feel of what they are interested in and what they love so they could apply this to their minds and their focus.”
The forum was attended by students of St. James, St. Leonard’s Boys’, Harrison College, Springer Memorial and the University of the West Indies, among others and was designed to gather their feedback on education in Barbados.
Her school mate, Jane Small added that more attention should be paid to the creative arts in schools.
‘Not catering to that’
“Some children are not able to do Science, some are not able to Mathematics. Some are equipped to do Carpentry, Electronics, Hairdressing, Nursing, skills such as agricultural science and to me we are not catering to that.”
She noted that she knew of students at Alma Parris for example, who were given the chance at job attachments using skills like trophy making, screen printing T-shirts and other skills that students at some of the schools that were considered higher were not even given an option to pursue.
Small pointed out that not everyone was able to get into PomMarine or the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic to pursue their technical interests and as such students should be given such options in secondary school.
The young woman, who is known for her singing abilities, said the creative arts was one area that was needed, especially as there were many students leaving primary schools doing NIFCA until they got to secondary schools and not be able to further their skills.
Springer student Shakira Redman said there should be more extracurricular activities as part of the curriculum, to better help students explore their talents. For a school that is known for its sporting exploits and victories each year, the student said everyone was not as skilled in every academic area and there should therefore be options for those who had other interests to explore them as possible professions.
Likewise, St. Leonard’s lad, Jamal Codrington-Browne said he did not even know he had a talent for singing until he got into secondary school and was brought into the school’s choir. Similarly he said there were students with talents in cricket, football, athletics and culinary arts which were seen as extracurricular activities, which truly could become professions if more focus was given within schools to those with such interests.
Harrison College student, Deshon Griffith noted his interest in culinary arts which was not necessarily an option for him at school beyond a certain level, but which he felt should be open to all.
“Everybody expects Harrisonians to be doctors and lawyers. I personally wish they had Home Economics and those kinds of subjects at Harrison College because I love to cook but I don’t have that opportunity. So I believe the Government should focus more on integrating the curriculum more and making it more diverse,” said the lad.