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Education shake up


In recent weeks, via a number of unrelated events, a small number of Barbadians have had the opportunity to focus on some critical aspects of our national development, as they relate to the preparation of our youth for the world of work.

At the grassroots level there appears to be a keener appreciation of the value and potential of the “trades”, and more recently the avenues for entrepreneurship among persons inclined towards the arts, than among the so-called thinkers and policy makers.

And while the tendency in periods like this recession with which we have been grappling for the past five years or so is for every man to “break for himself” in order to meet his commitments, the opportunity ought not to be lost to make some fundamental changes to the way we do business so we are well placed to reap maximum rewards when conditions improve.

A major part of the way forward has to be in getting all sections of our society to see the value of these “trades”, which can create valuable niche markets in the new order. We have to find ways to get all segments of our community to recognise that persons who choose to exercise their creativity with carpentry, jewellery-making or in the business of packaging and marketing unique spice combinations, are not failures, but perhaps the next wave of economic success stories.

We are sure there are numerous teachers, past and present, who can identify students with tremendous ability, but who were too lazy or two indifferent, to put in the effort that would have made them true scholars. Instead they may have opted to spend their time in a woodwork or metalwork class, in essence avoiding what others knew they were capable of achieving in an academic stream.

We are not referring to persons who fit that build, but individuals like those who are so motivated by the carvings they can produce, almost with no effort, when they can position a block of wood on a lathe and hold a gouge in their hands.

Why should we maintain a system that makes a creative youngster believe that his choice is second class to that of the academically inclined when he can turn a handful of clay into a highly prized and priced piece of art? For too long we have made our young people believe they should not choose some electrical course over economics, or barbering over biology, when clearly their disposition showed they had what it took to make a success of it. Ironically,

in today’s environment or economic strangulation, many of these individuals are better placed to survive than office dwellers who have little input in the direction their employers will go. And in times of plenty, these “schoolhouse failures” fare much better financially than many who dress in collar and tie and suits to travel to the office daily.

perhaps where the academics ought to be emphasised by the education system for these individuals is in the accounting and human resource management skills that would help them to maximise the returns on their investments.

But clearly there is a need for radical shifts in our schools as they now exist, or for the creation of a whole new set of schools that emphasise non- traditional subjects, or subjects that for years have been relegated to second- class status. Too many of our people have become successes despite of the system — let’s just imagine where they, and by extension, the country, could have been if they did not start the race behind everyone else.

Who’s going to rock this education boat?

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