Many individuals have their own opinion about the statement made by the late Errol Walton Barrow, in respect of not wanting to see a cane blade in Barbados. Many view this statement as utter madness, but there is always an absolute reason in the mind of a visionary in regards to the statements they make publicly.
In 1950 Errol Barrow returned to Barbados form England and joined the Barbados Labour Party in 1951 under the leadership of Grantley Adams. Then in 1955, he Separated himself from the party because he believed that the BLP was still maintaining a colonial style approach to the governmental system.
He believed that there was a need for a democratic approach to the governmental structure and system in Barbados, and started the Democratic Labour Party in 1955. The idea of seeing Barbadians slaving on plantations was obviously distasteful to him — he believed that the people deserved better.
After winning the government in 1961, he began to implement his plan of what was a master piece of genius, to get Barbadians off the plantations and get them educated. He birth the idea of free education, which didn’t sit well with the ruling class. His plan was to train Barbadians away from the system that was enslaving them economically, socially and mentally. He knew that an educated people couldn’t be enslaved.
His plan, in my opinion, had one flaw in that while our people were being educated for the jobs of the future, we didn’t educate ourselves to own and run the plantations so that we could still feed ourselves.
Errol Barrow’s plan worked with such grace that Barbados became known for it high standard in education and the production of quality learnt persons. This came forcibly to me in 1996 when I visited the British Virgin Island territory of Tortola on a ministry trip. During the week we were there we had a visit from the chief of police who was a Barbadian. Of course this came as a surprise to us, but it proved the point of the impact of the vision of free education. Barbadians were operating in high positions around the region and the world. Our nation was the envy of others due to our educational excellence.
Errol Barrow died on June 1, 1987, at the age of 61, and in my opinion, never fully seeing his vision come to pass. What we are currently suffering from is the inability of those left in his house to continue the vision and carry it to maturity. This inability is clearly seen in the number of qualified persons in Barbados with no work available.
In 2009, the president of the Unites States made a statement that caught my attention. He asked: “Why does a little country like Singapore produce over 30,000 structural engineers and America only produced 3,000?”
This is a clear sign that the government of Singapore knows where to direct it’s people as far as education is concerned. In Barbados however, visionary leadership has vanished from among our elected officials.
Another problem our education system didn’t prepare for was the fact that our neighbours would begin to copy our style and begin to compete with us and eventually catch up with us at the qualification and competency levels. This has given fellow Caricom citizens the opportunity to apply for top position in Barbados, the region and the world. We have lost our monopoly in education dominance.
To add to our education woes, successive gov