Education system too ‘elitist’

A senior official at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has warned that the region’s education system is not only “elitist”, but that it is failing the majority of students.

Addressing a consultation on Regional Education and Human Resource Development Strategy at the head office of the Caribbean Examinations Council yesterday, the CDB’s Operations Officer for Education Dr Martin Baptiste further cautioned that the Caribbean was losing 70 per cent of its human resource potential as a result of the current system, which he said only catered to the top 30 per cent of students.

Dr Martin Baptiste
Dr Martin Baptiste

“We need to recalibrate where we are. Our system, I think you would agree, has largely been elitist. We have done very well catering to the top 30 per cent. Our system is properly designed like that. We start with mass access in primary, we then move into a secondary system that begins to segment students based on abilities in very limited areas … . The other intelligences are not so properly represented. So across the region the child who is very good at cultural intelligences, if he or she is not careful will find his or herself understood as being underachieving or unintelligent,” Baptiste said. 
He warned that if the region is to keep pace with the rest of the world, it must find avenues for all children to express themselves.

“The system we have now does not allow our students to demonstrate the skill and genius that he or she has. We have put a system that is very much restrictive, so we need to talk about how do we reconfigure the system to address the needs of the 70 per cent that we are currently not catering for,” Baptiste said.
He further cautioned that there was an inextricable link between those who fall between the education cracks and the economically and socially disenfranchised.
“The top 30 per cent will always do well, they have done very well. But we need now to move to the excluded and vulnerable . . .  because those are the ones whose level of frustration have not been properly nurtured and the ones that present the greatest risk to themselves, to their families, to the society and to the economy,” he said.
“It is simply no longer enough to present a lesson, I must ensure that the minimum level of mastery is attained by every child because I am building an intelligence, I am building a competence of persons and I need not leave that child behind. When you have a contractor before we do not pay them to mix cement, we pay them to build room,” said Baptiste, who advocated for a holistic approach to the education system. 

6 Responses to Education system too ‘elitist’

  1. Hal Austin October 29, 2016 at 5:44 am

    It is a system that was only meant to impart a limited amount of knowledge and has served its purpose.

  2. Alex Alleyne October 29, 2016 at 6:47 am

    In BARBADOS it can bee seen clearly . The “NEWER SECONDARY” SCHOOLS and the “OLDER SECONDARY SCHOOLS”

  3. jrsmith October 29, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Our educators is to be blame for the system and the education itself, we are not learning as a country hoping to be prosperous and moving forward, as I said before if you are going to build a house ,you are not going to get too far by employing all painters…
    as (Sir Hilary ) said before we haven’t started to move into the 21st century sitting with 20th century ideas and technology and this extends to a lot of the world…
    Barbados is stuck with a class system with many people thinking they are middle class, but so sad is this myth that they are middle class working class , this is so obvious in the (UK) as well. the so call middle are working for they supper like anyone else…surviving on they credits ….
    In Barbados our educators needs to be educated as to the economic ,technical and industrial changes which is and is taking place all around us ,
    We in Barbados had a better educated chance more so than (Hong Kong) ( Taiwan) ( Malaysia ) (Japan and even China) but we were so control by the white world ,

    We were never considered being capable to sustain industrialization and was fixed with a tourist industry ,leaving us totally dependent on the white masters ,who has make us destroy what little we had our sugar cane. in return lots of other countries is producing (sugar beet ) for us ,why wasn’t this introduced in Barbados or the region…..
    What our education has done for us is to destroy our culture , sell of our heritage gradually eroding our way of life , and left most bajans confuse….now Barbados is there for the taking, but not by bajans as if we are being sold down the river…..

    • Donild Trimp October 30, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Hail, hail jr. Excellent.

      Well done, Sir.

  4. F. A. Rudder October 29, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    A great article indeed!

  5. Jennifer October 30, 2016 at 7:20 pm


    Well said. Watch how the masses are distracted daily with petty nonsensical issues while the elites get on with their continued monopoly in all areas with all that “old money”.
    The education system was based on and from the colonial powers so you can fit in like the servants you were meant to be, and it does not matter if you think you are well educated or not. You will still fall into the servant position. It is a similar case of what was done in south Africa after the Mandela government took over. Post slavery no measures were put in place in education or otherwise to create masters from our people only continued servants or people of servitude. Mind you some of us are happy to be servants too. All systems failed our people from the education system to the church system. Now we have a case of young people turning to various areas of crime and we wonder how they got this way. The thing is that the middle class think they have moved above a certain level not understanding that they too have not gone any where. What a joke.
    In reality there are only two classes of people in Barbados – rich and poor. The rich own all the tourist resorts, banks, BIG businesses, plantations etc all others are poor. Just let a bed of sickness hit you and you will see. The cost alone for your care will finish your funds. We indeed a revised education system and other systems too to support people.


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