There’s a suggestion that Barbados should extend the age limit from 16 to 18 years for students attending secondary schools.
The idea was put forward by Victor Gooding, senior satellite systems scientist with Telesat, who said that the education system here was in need of a major transformation to remain relevant and create innovative entrepreneurs.
The Barbadian Olympian, who has been living in Canada for the past 45 years, made the comments on Monday night to a packed audience at Frank Collymore Hall that included Minister of Education Ronald Jones. Gooding was delivering the 38th Annual Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture on the topic View From 45 Years North: A Barbadian In Canada.
Speaking on a range of economic and social issues, Gooding said the positive advancement of the island was linked inextricably to education “bolstered by the increased access provided by the late Errol Barrow back
“However,” he said, “to sustain and support innovation and entrepreneurship, transformation to the Barbados educational system as it stands now is required.”
He said the current approach to education needed to move away from teaching students to pass an exam to helping them develop more “application and thinking skills”, adding that problem solving, resourcefulness and creativity were also critical.
“This approach doesn’t apply only to science, because it is important that we develop well-rounded individuals. So you want programmes that involve fine arts, business and you also want a variety of sports,” said Gooding, adding that it should start from the nursary school level.
He said teachers should also be given specialized training and special programmes should be designed for “gifted children in order to make sure they fully develop their potential”.
“To accomplish all of this and to make sure it was age to 18. That would allow you to finish that and it would take some of these kids out of the cycle of unemployability and crime at the same time,” suggested Gooding.
He also called on the private sector to offer more support in the form of mentorship and job attachments.
Addressing the issue of students paying their own tuition fees for the University of the West Indies as of September next year, Gooding said the decision was “a constructive damage” that was necessary.
He suggested, however, that a system be put in place for the less fortunate, adding that those currently attending the learning institution should not have the fees “imposed” on them.