The Opposition’s shadow Minister of Education Edmund Hinkson has called on Government to introduce the teaching of business creation at primary school level and instill self-confidence in young Barbadians to promote an entrepreneurial spirit.
Casting his thoughts forward on what Barbados needs in 2016, the St James North Member of Parliament said that too many young people graduated from schools and higher learning institutions with the aim of finding employment with some organization, instead of creating their own jobs.
Hinkson told Barbados TODAY of his dissatisfaction with the direction of the island’s education system on Sunday as he hosted an annual children’s party on the grounds of the Gordon Greenidge Primary School.
“We need to create an environment where the youth have greater self-esteem, greater self-confidence than they have now; where they believe that they can go into fields, create their own employment and employment for other people, rather than graduating from university or Barbados Community College, or other tertiary institutions, with management degrees but still looking for jobs with Government or in the private sector.”
For this to change, the Barbados Labour Party MP called on Government to create an environment “where we don’t just talk” about developing Barbados in terms of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), but act accordingly.
“We therefore need more specialist teachers in these areas in the primary schools. We need to create the hub for entrepreneurship from very early in the age of our children,” he said.
In addition to calling for emphasis on STEM subjects for entrepreneurship, Hinkson said more attention must be paid to the teaching of arts and drama with a view to having gifted and creative persons expand the sector into an industry.
Pointing to the Cultural Industries Act which gives persons involved in the arts a legal basis for establishing companies in the sector while benefitting from incentives, Hinkson said Barbados’ education system must encourage young people to understand that they can find employment outside the traditional fields.
“There is a need for a new direction not only in terms of the education system, but the economic system,” he said.
The MP said that the way forward would be through a change in the curriculum in primary schools.
“We have not had curriculum reform in this country for 16 years now since the Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley was Minister of Education.”
He called on Government to enunciate “a proper vision” for education over the next ten to 20 years and state where it wants to see the youth “in terms of realizing their full potential and talent”.