Common sense lacking

Sir Hilary responds to De Peiza’s criticisms of UWI strategy

Former Principal of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Sir Hilary Beckles today called on this island’s leaders to stop all the ‘hot air’ talk about education, and to gather together the best minds in the national interest.

“I do believe that what is happening in Barbados at the moment around education and higher education is that we are not collectively putting our best thoughts together,” Sir Hilary, the UWI vice chancellor, told Barbados TODAY in a frank interview this afternoon.

“I do not have all the answers. No Government has all the answers, [but] I believe that the issue of how to educate a nation is a national responsibility and it is a shared responsibility because the survival of the nation is dependent upon it and I do not believe at the moment that our best thoughts and our best ideas and our best imagination is at work around the future of how to educate the Barbadian people to sustain the nation in the next 20 to 30 years,” the Barbadian professor added, while brushing aside recent criticisms levelled against his ‘one university student per household’ policy.

In defending the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) 2013 decision to stop footing the full cost of tertiary education for students attending UWI, Government Senator Verla De Peiza last week suggested that the campus had lowered its standards in a misguided attempt to fast track Sir Hilary’s vision, unveiled in 2009, of having a UWI graduate in every Barbadian home by 2020.

However, Sir Hilary told Barbados TODAY that if that vision was wrong “it would mean that Barbados as it is now with a vibrant and professional middle class should not be, because the vision was based upon the realization that the most effective way to take people out of poverty in a post colonial society like Barbados was to give the majority of the citizens access to higher education and professional training.

“So if it was wrong that would mean that I would have had to have committed myself to people staying in poverty, to the majority of our families staying in poverty, to a vision of my country as a socially backward society. So I don’t know. I understand how all perceptions of higher education are subject to criticism, but I really do believe that this is more about commonsense,” he stressed.

Sir Hilary also responded to De Peiza’s suggestions that the campus had an insatiable appetite for funding and was proving to be a financial burden on the Government due to an “explosion” of its physical plant.

“If the time ever comes when our appetite for knowledge and personal advancement is a problem, I think all of us can pack up and go home,” the respected academic said in reply, while stressing that the role of educators was to grow the appetite for knowledge information and personal development.

At the same time, he argued that the collective role of the private sector, the state and the institutions themselves was to work out strategies of affordability and the strategies that will enable the citizens to fulfill their potential.

“I believe that what was formulated at Cave Hill in my time was really in fact common sense and I don’t see it as a vision in fact,” Sir Hilary told Barbados TODAY, adding that “when common sense is seen as a vision then clearly there is a problem of imagination”.

It has now been three years since the Freundel Stuart-led DLP has stopped meeting the economic costs of students attending the UWI, with the campus reporting that its enrolment has fallen from a peak of 8,841 students in academic year 2011/2012 to just over 5,300 currently.

With this in mind, the Mia Mottley-led Opposition Barbados Labour Party, which is actively campaigning for elections due by the middle of next year, has promised to restitute free tertiary education if elected to Government.

However, while insisting that the matter should not be one of “party political contestation”, Sir Hilary suggested that the positions of the DLP and the BLP were really not very far apart.

He explained that while the DLP had sought to take between $35-$40 million out of Governmenet’s investment in Cave Hill,  “my understanding of what Mia is saying is that you can find within the Barbados economy that $35 to $40 million to restore the model”.

While acknowledging that a question mark remains over where that money will be found, Sir Hilary contended that there were several fundamental questions that needed to be answered, including: “Should the traditional model be re-established and tweaked or should it be completely set aside and a new model put in place?”

He suggested that the number of citizens a $9 billion economy is able to fund “through the highest level of professional training” be determined,  once that figure is arrived at, the methodology would have to be worked out for making the funds available.

Sir Hilary also said there was a need to identify the new drivers for the Barbados economy, while stressing that future investment in education should not be seen simply as an expenditure, but also an investment in the human capital to build the economy and society.

“The greater your investment, the greater your capacity to modernize your economy,” he said, while stressing the need for balance going forward.

Sir Hilary, who previously chaired a national task force of principals of tertiary education institutions, warned that there had to be an imagining of what the Barbados economy and society will look like in 20 years.

“We cannot allow more people to fall into poverty, which is already happening. We have to expand the imagination of the younger people, we have to stimulate their desire be great citizens and to love their country and want to build it and education is the key to all of this,” the vice chancellor said, while suggesting that detailed strategic planning time must be dedicated to this process as opposed to having “a hot air” national conversation.

21 Responses to Common sense lacking

  1. Saga Boy November 17, 2017 at 4:20 am

    You should explain the number of illiterate graduates from UWI who can’t read, write or spell properly; who are extremely inarticulate and who now have to work as clerks and security guards.

    • Leroy November 17, 2017 at 5:55 am

      You dont have nothing better to do Saga? To graduate Uwi calls for reading understanding and that point of illiterate graduates is total bs..
      If you had said book smart but real world dumpsy then I would understand..
      Hillary is spot on a national budget of $3.2 bil $30-$40 mil can be found..afterall the dlp found it for Maloney out by the grotto.

  2. Tony Webster November 17, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Well …t best -laid plans of man sure can go awry. Uncle Bob is …er….was going to build a $1billion university to lift Zim into the stratosphere of Global Economic Activity. Now…jes’ hol’ bref….

    By the experience of mine eyes and ears, and having myself worked all over the Caribbean, I have been privileged to have met the most talented, wonderful and successful Bajans , whose antecedents had jumped on the M.V. Daerwood, or one of the Hassell’s schooners, six or ten decades back, and free as a bird and wid a common currency in their pockets, headed out to all other Caribbean destinations, where they rose like cream to the top, as judges, lawyers, leading contractors etc.

    One more time: our CARICOM challenge is to regain such “ease of travelling and working as a region”, and let our natural instincts …and talents…flow. Not just those with narrow qualifications. Just “wash yuh foot an’ come”. HOGS…your turn to play…and to demonstrate some scintilla of relevance. We ALL shall benefit.

  3. hcalndre November 17, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Sir Hillary wanted to see a UWI graduate in every household which should raised the standard of living and then came the Dems, raised the bar by cutting the funds so instead of more attending the UV. the attendance drop by 50%. Barbadians will have to do as the older folks did, get out of there in a hurry just as you finish school.

  4. Saga Boy November 17, 2017 at 6:23 am

    Leroy you are either out of touch, out of the country or in denial. Talk to UWI graduates and hundreds of employers on the island about UWI graduates.

    • Leroy November 17, 2017 at 9:27 am

      I live here in Bim everyday, Im at UWI almost daily,
      my close friend is pursuing a doctorate, my daughter and niece are current students,,I am a graduate,my brother and sister are graduates,

      I speak to them everyday and many more students, I am yet to find one who is illiterate.
      I dont know where you get these outlandish suggestions from?

    • Leroy November 17, 2017 at 9:30 am

      It is next to impossible to attain a degree at UWI or any other university for that matter being illiterate.

  5. Jennifer November 17, 2017 at 6:43 am

    Now here Hillary, as a post colonial peoples, education should have been a front for a much larger picture. The problem is that the larger picture has not been even sketched. What you will and is ending up with is a set of academics not finding jobs in their fields of study. I recently read an article of three SO CALLED Afro Americans stealing in China Louis vitton items. Can you tell me when are our people going to be educated and supported to design/manufacture their own products etc, Fundel recently accused so called bajans as responsible for the state of the economy by their lifestyles/shopping practices. How are the big heads going to turn our education system to sustain this people appetite to meet their lifestyles right here in Bim. Oh I know you will leave it to the said colonialist children to do it for them. It is the corns/horns huh. As a HISTORIAN when r you going to stop being played like a piano and rally this people towards true independence – could it be that shoe. U clearly need to revisit your plan and while doing it remove the wool from your eyes and head. You people in positions need to revisit your economic and developmental structures for this people. Ask yourself this Hillary how can a minority people stay in the same position with a ballooning effect and a majority stay in the same position after 50yrs????

  6. Sheron Inniss November 17, 2017 at 7:08 am

    The other day I accused Sir H of not having common sense. I dun wid this. Ha ha ha.

    • Jennifer November 17, 2017 at 9:40 am

      That SIR is his problem too.
      We so called African peoples keep staying in this rut because our leaders are staying in the said rut with their educational and economic systems. Lazy minded and sub-thinking etc. The same way this people lacking developmentally to accumulate wealth (not house and cars}, these leaders mind is a match. Then they will try and blame the said people in the positions they helped to put them in for everything, then smote them continually with taxes. This middle class ideology is just a faux/silhouette of having any wealth. By the time you done pay your mortgage, you will be taking another one or two to send your child/children on the said trail you just came off of.

  7. Carson C Cadogan November 17, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Hillary, what about the $240,000.00 per year which is being paid by UWI for the rental of the Mutual building at the bottom of Broad Street?

    • Ras November 17, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Vice chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles, who is also a director of Sagicor, the successor of the Barbados Mutual Life Assurance Society, was involved in brokering the deal for the use of the building, but the terms and conditions had not been revealed.

      However, SUNDAY SUN investigations have discovered that the campus has been paying $240 000 annually to Sagicor.

      And imagine the building Idle since 2014
      The multistorey building, which was built in 1894 and is now a World Heritage Site, was handed over in 2014 to be used as a City campus.

      He want to talk about common sense
      Why is Tax payers money being spent like it going out of style at Cave Hill
      Where is the common sense Sir kindly tell me.

  8. Greengiant November 17, 2017 at 7:33 am

    @Saga Boy: You are embarrassing yourself mate, you simply cannot graduate from any University and can’t read, write or spell. To get in as a student you have to be able to do these three and more.

    Mr. Beckles has made a remarkable contribution to our educational development in this region. Rather than our regional politicians, and in this case our local politicians, sit down to devise the way forward for financing the U W I at Cave Hill, we find ways to destroy the educational model created by Mr. Beckles and his team.

    After we all benefited from the stated funded system, it’s suddenly unsustainable, it’s wasted money, and everything is suddenly wrong with the model. I’ve proposed that the state find some way of refunding those who pay for their education if they attain honors or above to varying percentages.

    It’s certainly in the best interest of this nation that we revisit the model to nationally finance higher education in this country. In doing so we would not have to use corrupt methods of bringing people through the back door of employment, and we would be able to sustain the policy of exporting resources for economic purposes that has also served us well in the past.

  9. Bevan Green November 17, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Verla De Peiza did you pay for your education at UWI? If so, what is your real issue? If not, what is your real issue? Is your issue the fact you may want to kick down the ladder, since you have reached your individual goal so to hell with the rest of us?

    Access to education is the only way most persons of African are able to get out of poverty. Such people do not have the access, not because of the fact that they lack the capacity to learn but because of a lack of the ability to fund the higher education.

    Selfishness is not the way Verla De Peiza.

    The challenges of poverty, gender biases and inequalities continues to be pervasive hence the reason why such access is desired to ensure that we in Barbados realise the UN identifiable sustainable development goals. Do you remember that Economics class UWI? That is if you attended that institution.

    Sir H, keep speaking some of us still listening.

  10. Kathy November 17, 2017 at 11:17 am

    I was a student at the UWI twice, Bachelors and Masters degrees. When the good gentleman decided on the one graduate per household most of the lecturers at the time was not in favour of it because they knew that it result in a diluted education. While I was there, many of the lecturers spoke of complaints from employers on the writing styles of some employees coming from Cave Hill. Of course, these were students coming from the Social Sciences and not Humanities. We know that our education programme need reform, but I think they need to start at the primary level and work up to the top. I also do believe that we need to be accountable for some of the financial responsibility of our own education. When it was necessary to have totally free education it was given to us. Nothing is forever but the Lord.

  11. David Hall November 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    current DLP government spokespersons are absolutely shameless and disingenuous. After wasting taxpayer funds they work at pulling down everyone else for their own misdeeds.

  12. Sue Donym November 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Seriously though, it is a lazy or uncreative mentality that will have people chiding Sir Hilary for his vision of a diverse graduate pool. There was a time when people thought it audacious to imagine universal secondary education, given the fact that many of us are just a few generations from poverty and not much further removed from slavery.

    Our society has evolved and so has the world. When did we decide that the only reason to be educated is to seek to be an employee; or when did we take a stand to limit ourselves and our thinking to Barbados? Are we no longer proud when we hear of that Bajan in far flung places – leading, innovating and sometimes developing with international technology and assistance, strategies and systems that would eventually help Barbados?

    Are people really accusing Sir Hilary of causing a lowering of standards by having a vision of a better educated Barbados?

  13. luther thorne November 17, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Dont mind Saga BOT , Carson C Cadogan another BOT aka DLP Consortium — Propaganda MK. DA and the rest – Arm. I thought the psuedonym Carson C Cadogan was put away but it has resurfaced. These contributions by the DLP BOT Assembly Consortium MK ; DA and the rest along wit ‘archy perch” . The Consortium comes on this forum to provide distraction, maintain a DLP presence and oppose everything that is beneficial to the country just like they did in the pages of ĺ Nation and the Advocate under the various names The Consortium should say what the DLP has done for the country in the last 9 years. The DLP ‘s attack on Education is disgraceful. Errol Barrow vexx vexx vexx and will deal with Dem

  14. jrsmith November 17, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Its nice to always say how educated we are ,but we still lacking in education………. Educators need to control and select how we are educated, why we are been educated its so easy to see our educated people , is easy to see we are building a house but we have selected all painters ,because we have no one else…………

  15. Sherwin November 17, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Interesting commentary but missing the point. One should understand that Sir Hilary’s 2009 laudable vision of having a UWI graduate in every Barbadian home by 2020 is just that, a vision.

    Being ignorant of Sir Hilary’s plan to achieve his vision I am in no position to comment on it. I can only hope that the occupants of each household do aspire and have the drive, and true drive is required, and ambition to have a university graduate within that household. Without that drive and ambition no plan will be successful.

  16. just observing November 17, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    To all of you negative, ignorant persons out there. Stay out of this chat if you have nothing positive to contribute.
    My mother used to cook in the white people kitchen coming home home after 10 pm when they had guests for dinner.
    My father used to ride around wiring houses.
    My grandmother used to walk for miles selling fish in Worthing, Navy Gardens and Hastings sometimes catching b thelast bus home,. I don’t want any pity.
    They made sure that we aspired to higher education to lift us out of poverty. What is wrong with a graduate in each household. Some might graduate in the technical field , others in academics like we did.
    Most parents want to see their children do better than they did. Anything wrong with that?


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