UWI official urges education reforms


A leading official at the University of the West Indies (UWI) says there is too much wastage in the education system, and has recommended reforms to help stem the problem.

Pro Vice Challencellor in charge of planning and development, Professor Andrew Downes made specific mention of the percentage of students who were absent from the 2014 CSEC exam for Mathematics (18 per cent) and English A (16 per cent).

“This means that we are paying for something that people are not turning up for and this is a significant waste, in my view as an economist,” he said.

The 2013-2014 graduating class

The professor was the feature speaker at the 2013-2014 graduation ceremony of the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

He also registered concern with low registration in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), subject areas which officials have been making a push for in recent years.

He also spoke of regional performances in English A and Mathematics, while explaining that data on Barbados was not available.

Over the past decade, he pointed out, this stood at 59 per cent for English A, while Mathematics was 37 per cent.

To help address the problem, professor Downes suggested additional reforms would be necessary.

“To move in that particular direction, I would argue that we require some degree of, what we call, creative destruction of the education and training system,” he said.

“That is in terms of curriculum reform, how we deal with pedagogy, how we deal with assessment methods, how we deal with transition arrangement from one level of the education system to another. If you’re going to be enhancing our capabilities . . . choice and reduce wastage, we need to, therefore, take a serious and critical look at this and, certainly, I would argue that teachers have a critical role to play in this.”

One Response to UWI official urges education reforms

  1. Tony Webster January 26, 2015 at 6:38 am

    “Houston, we have a problem”. Of course…we’ve had this problem for several decades, but concluded that it would be messy, sacrilegous, and mess-up our global reputation to be the most “literate” country in god’s green Earth. It was therefore one of those problems that would either solve itself by the process of benign evaporation (or a fortuitous Monstrous Perversion of Boyle’s Law concerning gases).

    OK, we now have a suggested solution (sorry…a good intention) from “on high”.

    While I applaud the professor’s candour, would the gentleman, (whom I regard highly as an Economist), please quickly pass this baby to the “relevant authorities” …so that they might wake-up, and show signs of short, medium, and long-term ACTION PLANS…for a RELEVANT and URGENT overhaul…of all our educational institutions? Like, teacher training, and re-focussed curricula from primary upwards to tertiary heights?
    We either shall take-on this additional Monstrous Perversion or resign ourselves to wistful memories of global relevance (read: “survivability”).

    I see the quoted numbers for English and maths…and I just DO NOT believe these! Take a look on the UNESCO global ranking for mathematics: we are not even listed, but an asterisk reminds that the list reflects data from from countries submiting statistics!
    So sad. Meanwhile, my thanks to the courageous professor.


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