Jones challenges IDB assessment on Barbados’ education
Minister of Education Ronald Jones is promising to “shatter” the “grunge” that has been reported about the education system in Barbados recently.
Making reference to recent reports from a senior official of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that even though the island was considered a leader in Latin America and the Caribbean, its overall level of learning was still way before par, Jones said to put out such information was “absolutely wrong”.
“There has been over the last few days, some activity in Barbados on the call-in programmes and things like that. I am not going to say much about it now but I will speak to that a little later. Just to say that we have to question ourselves everyday relative to any learning activity, any behavioural activity within the country. The most recent has been a bit of statistics, which question the success of our education system. Let me say to you it is wrong, it is absolutely wrong, and I am not questioning the material that has been put out, so I will clarify that in another few days,” Jones said.
“Some of the current discussion comes from the ill-informed and the uninformed relative to what is taking place in Barbados. So I am going to shatter shortly, a lot of the grunge really, [that] I am hearing out there.”
Barbados TODAY had reported last week on the findings presented by Dr Mariana Alfonso, a senior education specialist at the IDB. Basing her assessment on studies done between 1999 and 2012, she told the Fifth International Conference on Higher Education that a number of worrying results were uncovered.
The research showed that many Barbadian school leavers could not even meet the basic requirement of four Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) passes for entry into the public service.
“Of the students who actually take that exam, 50 per cent obtain far more CSEC passes, but only after multiple sittings,” Alfonso pointed out.
“Only 6.1 per cent of the students in Barbados get the four passes in the first sitting of the exam,” she added.
However, while still staying away from naming the source of his contention, Jones said “sometime this week” he would be meeting “with persons” to share data with them that the Ministry of Education had gathered over the last 23 years “to show the movement upward in the learning of our students’ outcomes – subjects passed and all of that”.
“Barbados has shown a very interesting profile from schools where students at those schools might be giving you between 98 per cent and 100 per cent of four or more subjects in one year for CSEC, to schools where students who went in with a lower quality mark also giving you 28, 30, 35 per cent passes in four or more subjects in one sitting. That is what is happening in Barbados,” the minister insisted.
He also pointed out that there were schools in Barbados with an “accelerated programme of learning”, through which many students were able to gain between one and three subjects before they enter fifth form.
“We have all of those statistics.”
The minister, who was addressing the official launch of the Flow Study – an e-learning platform – at the telecommunication’s company’s Warrens headquarters today, was adamant that the island continued to be the number one learning society in the region and Central America and possibly the world.
“We will continue as a small open economy to ensure that people will have the knowledge to interact or interface with anybody in the world. Even if they speak another language we will try to learn that language and again technology will help to do all of those things,” said Jones.