St Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony has painted a conservative picture of education in the region, suggesting it is doing more harm than good.
“Take the issue of after-hours lesson for children. Parents now virtually have to pay for those experiences, but 15 to 20 years ago, it was a natural outgrowth of the existing curriculum . . . . It was normal to provide lessons to students after school, as part of your wider responsibility.
“Now you can hardly find a teacher doing this. They have to be paid in the afternoon. So they teach badly during the day and they pick it up in the afternoon when they get the extra pay. We are not looking at these issues in the system,” he stressed, while delivering the annual UWI Cave Hill, St Lucia Student Association Lecture on the topic Education In The Caribbean: Challenges And Opportunities Facing Small Developing States.
The St Lucia Labour Party leader told his young countrymen that many governments in the region had no philosophy or view of the family and viewed them as a non-entity.
Likewise, he also lamented that it appeared many of them had abdicated their responsibility for telling parents what their responsibilities were, in terms of actually fulfilling their role.
“We don’t do it any more. The burden, in my view, has disproportionately gone to the teachers in the classrooms and nobody wants to stand up and tell parents that they have certain responsibilities as it relates to the upbringing of their children. This is consistent with my own view that we don’t have a philosophy of a family.”
Anthony noted that not enough prominence was given to early childhood education, and as a result problems were being picked up far too late in the system.
“Those countries that have embarked on early childhood education are on the correct path because if we manage carefully the history of children as they go through the system, we can pick us some of those potential traits and modes of behaviour that lead to the problems that emerge from time to time,” he said as he called for a paradigm shift within the region’s education system.
“For me, the whole issue of monitoring the children as they go through the system is critical and vital. We must also have open
minds to look at other models. My attention was drawn to what has been happening in Finland. What they have done is they have redesigned their experience in the classroom.
“In our system, for example, we promote children every year at the end of the school session to new forms. They meet new teachers;
so there is a new process of acculturation. In Finland they don’t do it that way. They promote the students with their teachers.
“So if you start from Grade 1, you go with that teacher to Grade 2, and your teacher takes you through the life experiences of education, and they are better able to look after the children. That is something that we need to consider,” Anthony said. (RG)