The success of students arises out of what educators and others in the academic profession do to assist their charges.
This was underscored by Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, as he addressed members of the Caribbean Tertiary Level Personnel Association’s at their 16th Annual Conference this morning, at the Accra Beach Hotel.
Querying who would champion the cause on behalf of students, Jones called regional participants to take an enlightened view of their circumstances and trust that, in the face of adversity, accomplishments were still possible.
“Here in Barbados, where education is heavily subsidised, … we call it free, but it’s not free, it’s paid for by citizens…., it’s a sincere but severe commitment on behalf of the [population].”
He noted that challenges were not limited to those providing education but touched students. Jones added that there was a time when “students at universities were reaped before they graduated … by buoyant [companies] in industry and commerce … to be teachers and accountants… [But] today, they graduate and then they struggle to find work.”
The education minister added that extended working years, taken by those already in the system, posed an additional hurdle for individuals seeking to enter the work force for the first time. This, he said, was where the role of tertiary personnel was paramount.
Jones emphasised the need for students to sit down with career counsellors and other academic professionals, to examine the work environment and determine an appropriate field of work, while ensuring that the area of study was engaging and would not result in students changing focus midstream.
“You are still in the engine room,” he said, “you are still stoking the fires of the students …; the students that you interface with must see someone of confidence… You have to have a coping mechanism [to deal with the challenges] and get on with the task of changing lives.”