UWI boss gives warning on tertiary education

Stay clear of irrelevant changes to tertiary education, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus Professor Eudine Barriteau has warned.

Delivering the annual Elsie Payne Memorial Lecture last evening as part of activities celebrating the 120th anniversary of Queens College, the leading academic raised concern that increasing financial pressure to fund higher education had resulted in a “rush to prescribe more models of funding and delivery” which could lead to more harm than good.

“To be transformative educational leaders we cannot lose sight of the role education has played and must continue to undertake in our societies,” she said, stressing that education in Barbados and other Caribbean countries was not “merely a social good.”

“It is an economic investment in the productive capacity and human capital development of our societies. It is the educational sector that equips our current and future work force with skills, and perspective and attitudes necessary to contain, manage and triumph over adversities in global economic relations.”

Speaking under the theme, Creating Leaders Through Excellence in Our Educational System: Transforming a UWI Education, Barriteau urged authorities to step back and ensure that new educational strategies impart the right
skills-mix that is best for societal development.

Professor Eudine Barriteau
Professor Eudine Barriteau

“That is, what kind of citizen do we envision producing? And where does her or his experience fit in the very society his or her education is expected to transform?

“A transformative agenda for tertiary education cannot separate educational strategies from a philosophy of education that is grounded in a critical and rigorous assessment of where our countries are inserted in the global economy.”

She insisted this would require exposure to all forms of education, including instruction in the humanities, arts and culture, along with sciences, math and technology.

Noting that these developments were also taking place as competition for the provision of tertiary education was ever increasing, the UWI principal however cautioned against “a general free for all among mostly, unregulated, foreign providers,” saying that a foreign education provider had left students stranded in one Caribbean country.

The UWI principal who has been faced with a drop in enrollment at the Cave Hill Campus after the Freundel Stuart administration stopped paying tuition fees for locals, made a case for Barbados to ensure its entire population had access to tertiary education and not just school leavers. She made reference to UNESCO statistics which showed a decrease in the enrollment in the primary and secondary school.

“In 1999 the enrollment in primary education for both sexes stood at 24,792 by 2011, 11 years later, it was 22, 509 with every previous year showing a decline on the year before. Similarly the secondary enrollment population was 21, 841 in 1999 and by 2011 its 19,696. Interestingly, we note the population of persons between the ages of 24-64 rose from 137, 261 in 1999 to 157, 686 in 2011. There is a labour force in need of continuous retooling and upgrading.”

Lamenting that the Caribbean was still lagging behind the benchmark standard of 15 per cent access to tertiary education, she stressed that the Cave Hill Campus was acting quickly to move out of the current decline in enrollment and to strengthen its financial viability outlining her vision to transform the educational institution.

“Our facilities must be functional, well resourced and fit for purpose. In addition to increasing our learning facilities, we have improved student health services, provide career and psychological counselling and maintain a range of programmes to support academic and professional development . . . Our faculty must be qualified, competent, motivated, professional and student responsive.

“All our content should meet international standards and include curriculum, library, laboratory, and other educational resources . . . we require our administration to be professional, knowledgeable, resourceful and student responsive.”


2 Responses to UWI boss gives warning on tertiary education

  1. René Holder
    René Holder October 9, 2015 at 10:51 am

    ‘UWI boss’ really??? ‘UWI Principal’ not boss should have been this headline.

  2. Charles Worrell October 10, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Ms. Holder are you sure you want to even step to disrespect? I hope not. Madam Educator is on point to the hilt and when our OWN EDUCATORS get back to where they were and focus on education in the Caribbean with emphasis on Caribbean needs as we continue to INTEGRATE OUR PEOPLE, then we here will once again be the envy of the North and other places.
    WE HAVE LOST OUR WAY AND OUR FOCUS regarding the needs of the Caribbean and we have gone headlong into the systems of the world without regard to their inapplicability. We here in Barbados are so bent on ‘becoming’ some world envy that we are not allowing truth and common sense to get in the way of our stupidity.
    We have always provided our generations except this one with the tools necessary to function effectively in Caribbean and outside world and IF we had taken THE TIME to review and appreciate our unique and indeed enviable position in the world of education, we would not be trying to erect the tower of babel.

    If the truth be told or if we looked objectively at what we have done with our education, one must conclude that we have messed it up badly. We have taken the fun that education used to be for our children and it has now become a place of stress and discomfort. We have allowed North America to level out the advantage we had on them with our education and now that parity has been established, it does not surprise that as long as apples are apples, North America wins every time. ALL BECAUSE, WE IN THE CARIBBEAN, DESPITE THE BUNDLE OF ACTIVISTS, as we were called back in the day, have allowed ourselves to be caught up in this American Dream WITHOUT realizing that it doesn’t work for her either. Many of us remember, when sanity visits from time to time, when we went to America and on entering University there, we were light years ahead of them. Our courses gave us 8 credit hours to their three and rather than hold on to this, we allowed ourselves to berth on the notion that this is where we should be. As a consequence, we missed out on the momentum we had as young students growing up together and coming together as we prepared for the leadership of the future.
    Madam Principal, please use your position to keep us looking at what we are doing. Please keep reminding us that we need to get back to who we are as a people of the Caribbean. Please be bold enough to set aside those things and plans that find no fit with who we are and what we should be and let us not build building because we can borrow money but let us build people, relevant for the needs of the Caribbean. Go Forth Lady!


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