Edu-shift

Govt ends commitment to a UWI grad in every home

The days of Government supplying ‘one university graduate in every household’ are all but over.

Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo said as much Friday when she addressed the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) lunchtime lecture at party headquarters George Street, St Michael.

“Our focus now is to ensure that our education is demand driven, not supply driven,” the Government spokeswoman said, stressing that “it is not going to be a case now where a couple thousand students come out of the university with perhaps half of them graduating with a degree in Social Science.

Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo

“What are they going to do with that degree? They have to go knocking all over the place to see who would accept them with this degree. They have the degree and they are now trying to fit themselves into slots. What we are now working on is shifting to demand driven education. This is one new role Government is undertaking in an effort to enhance productivity,” she said.

It was a clear departure from the tertiary education policy espoused by former UWI principal Sir Hilary Beckles, who is the current vice chancellor of the regional learning institution, as far back as the early 2000s.

Though the policy later found favour with the previous Owen Arthur administration, it has since become a financial noose around the neck of the Freundel Stuart Government, whose spending, according to figures published by the Caribbean Centre for Research on Trade and Development, rose from $49.39 million a year to $159 million a year, as part-time student enrolment in the UWI jumped 141 per cent in ten years, with the main area of concentration being the Faculty of Social Sciences.

As a result, Government is currently indebted to the UWI to the tune of nearly $200 million, but has been systematically working to reduce its annual subsidy to the learning institution, for which a provision of $71.3 million is made in this year’s Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.

However, speaking on the topic, Enhancing Our Largest Resource: The New Role For Government in Enhancing Productivity, Byer-Suckoo chose to focus on the educational requirements of the country’s labour force, arguing that it was no longer a question of the number of degrees, but the skills set of graduates that mattered.

“Some employers are complaining that graduates come into the workforce with a piece of paper, but they do not know what to do. We in the Ministry of Labour are trying to ensure that when they enter the workforce they hit the ground running. We are also interacting with employers to find out the needs of the world of work so that we are not faced with a situation where a large number of young people pursue degree programmes in Psychology,” she said, adding that the same would also apply to graduates of the Vocational Training Board.

“You have someone who comes out of the Vocational Training Board with a certificate which says that he is a carpenter and then you hear people say he is supposed to be a carpenter and he does not know how to line up wood and he does not know how to cut wood straight,” Byer-Suckoo said, adding that her ministry was setting up centres “where carpenters of 20 years’ experience can go and be assessed by officials.

“The officials can say the skills of the carpenter places him at a Caribbean Vocational Qualification level 3, which gives the person enough points to achieve a certificate in a tertiary educational institution,” she explained.

As far back as 2010, Freundel Stuart, while acting as prime minister, had indicated that Government was having second thoughts about its commitment to placing one university graduate in every household.

Addressing a major education conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Stuart, whose Government has since abolished free tertiary education by requiring that students pay 20 per cent of their total costs, had told the gathering that included principals and other educators that “we’ve been overtaken now by events which are forcing us to rethink even our commitment to the goal of having a graduate in every household by the year 2015 and to facilitating this by providing free education up to the tertiary level”.

Back then, Stuart had also indicated that an area of concern about the one-graduate-per-household programme was the male/female imbalance at institutions of higher learning  – two to one and growing – and that the country must find ways to ignite the interest of its young males in the pursuit of higher education.

The DLP had initially supported the one-university-graduate-per-household programme when it came to power in January 2008. However, since then, even Sir Hilary has backed away from the 2020 vision somewhat, focusing instead on the development of knowledge-based households, utilizing technology.

nevilleclarke@barbadostoday.bb 

11 Responses to Edu-shift

  1. David E Hall
    David E Hall March 10, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    I would really love to see the current Governments list of priorities.

    Reply
  2. Meakai March 11, 2017 at 12:58 am

    Secure nest egg.
    Ensure kith and kin are financially secure.
    Purchase retirement home.
    Purchase vaction home.
    Purchase retirement vechicle
    Invest in prime real estate.
    Establish private business.
    Prepare for elections.

    Reply
  3. Jasmine March 11, 2017 at 4:33 am

    Doctors should stay in hospitals after the heavy investment in training them. Shortage of Doctors so it baffles me why Doctors , Lawyers , Buffoons are venturing into Politics

    Where are all the Political Science Graduates?

    Bin would not be in this mess if you allow those Graduates in Government , Political Science to be in the Senate , Parliament and PM

    It’s time ta try this Model now as the every buffoon in government model has failed and Bim is in huge trouble

    Remember whatever situation you create whilst in power you will live in it after you have left power

    Reply
  4. Jasmine March 11, 2017 at 4:37 am

    Jasmine
    March 11, 2017 at 4:33 am
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Doctors should stay in hospitals after the heavy investment in training them. Shortage of Doctors so it baffles me why Doctors , Lawyers , Buffoons are venturing into Politics

    Where are all the Political Science Graduates?

    Bin would not be in this mess if you allow those Graduates in Government , Political Science to be in the Senate , Parliament and PM
    Fit round pegs in round holes

    It’s time ta try this Model now as the every buffoon in government model has failed and Bim is in huge trouble

    Remember whatever situation you create whilst in power you will live in it after you have left power

    Reply
  5. Jasmine March 11, 2017 at 4:45 am

    Update yourself

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24707507

    “Social science graduates are more likely to be in paid employment than arts or science graduates, according to analysis of official data.
    They are also more likely to be in managerial or senior roles, says a Campaign for Social Science study.
    The authors analysed data on graduate destinations from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
    Career paths
    Some 84.2% of social science graduates were employed three years after graduating, compared with 79% of arts and humanities graduates and 78% of graduates with science degrees, the figures suggest.
    The HESA figures, published in August, revealed the career paths of more than 62,000 recent graduates, three and a half years after they left university in 2009.
    The researchers define social sciences as including economics, management, business studies, anthropology, sociology, criminology, human geography, media studies, town planning, education and politics.”

    Just sayin

    Reply
  6. jrsmith March 11, 2017 at 6:23 am

    She has awoken at last,, this coming from her ….
    Our focus now is to ensure that our education is demand driven… this is what I been saying for a while now, but was blasted by many….but better late than never, a lot has got to be done to put things right.,…who is going to start…

    Reply
  7. Tony Webster March 11, 2017 at 6:51 am

    @Meaki: LOL, look out for a letter from my lawyer, claiming for my busted guts and medical expenss, occasioned by your reply to @David Hall!

    More to the point of the BT piece…it is clear that some of DEM, seem to have “movements” in their bowels…or they have detected the “ground shifting”, and trying…at this eleventh hour…to trim their sails- and putting distance between themsleves, and failed rhetoric.

    “The answer my friend, is blowing in de wind”…and the wind…well…it “picking-up”.

    Reply
  8. Donild Trimp March 11, 2017 at 10:28 am

    “Our focus now is to ensure that our education is demand driven, not supply driven,”

    At last something sensible from Minister Esther Byer.

    @Jasmine: equate the statistics with Barbados and see what you come up with.

    The Minister is 100% on this one.

    Just saying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  9. Kevin March 11, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Amen to that. Lots of my former schoolmates went and did dregres and the market for those skills are not in great demand here in Barbados. Lots have immigrated or working in areas completely different to what they studied.

    Reply
  10. Mikey March 11, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Never know we may have to employ many Sociologists and Psychologists now that the country slowly grinding to a Halt !!!
    ,,,,and an excess of Psychiatrists too !!!

    Reply
  11. Bobo March 25, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Ms Suchoo after reading your report the past and the present government since the formation of British ciriccullum it has remain where it started out the only change from Latin to Spanish -French—in which the students in majority end their school journey without speaking either language –We have arrived to the 21st century in which most companies are demanding -hi -tec knowledge and two languages .

    How on this blessed earth you can teach 21st century generation born with advanced intelligence with a 17 century curriculum.

    Britain and Caribbean education development still remained ”Divide and Rule” poor people children will remained slaves of the upper class–fight their wars — keep up the population rate —keep the jails busy–sweep the streets.

    Take for instance R Jones the education (sadistic pervert) want cello-phone in schools to distract the children focus—

    Folks if you love your children and you want them to produce—-Time to wake up and ”UNIFIED” your voice

    Reply

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