Minister of Education Ronald Jones, who is currently embroiled in a bitter row with the island’s teachers, has adopted a conciliatory approach towards the educators.
Without making reference to the dispute which has led to a work to rule by members of the Barbados Union of Teachers, Jones thanked teachers at the weekend for their hard and for going the extra mile without compensation.
As the minister celebrated the displays of schools at the Barbados Manufacturers’ Exhibition (BMEX) 2016, he said he never had any doubts that teachers worked hard, though, occasionally, with the evolution of new ideas, there was disruption in the system.
“Disruption is essential for growth, but as the growth starts to take place, you find uncertainty,” he stressed.
Jones said that he had been criticized wrongfully sometimes for “being a little too harsh or firm on teachers”, but he had seen results through the successes of the students.
“I am saying you can do more because students want you to do more. The work I see when I go into schools is a manifestation of the hard work that we get from our teachers. We are not always able to provide the recompense for that, but as you would know, money doesn’t really satisfy everything,” Jones said.
“It is how you feel about what you have done for our young people that gives you satisfaction. I really want to thank all of them for their effort and for their work and that we can continue to work together to have the kind of work that is necessary within our education and technical training centres,” he added.
The minister remarked that every year the student displays were becoming more sophisticated, noting that this year he had seen an increase in the innovative and scientific products on show.
“I can’t tell you every single thing by name, but I am extremely impressed with the creativity of the young people who brought their various items out here
“I also want to thank the Human Resources Department of the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation who every year coordinate this activity,” the minister said.
Jones indicated that there were some critics who were of the view that the ministry was not placing emphasis on pushing science and technology in schools.
He said while this point could be argued to an extent, there was evidence that these two subject areas were being taught in schools, and stressed that interested sectors could assist students who show potential by taking their products and services from experimental stages to another level.
“Sometimes we get a lot of criticism of our young people, but those who do well, we should also lift up. This is but an extension of these young people that should be lifted up,” Jones said.
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer Karen Best who, along with Parliamentary Secretary Senator Harry Husbands toured the displays, said the ministry would begin discussions with the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) about forming a partnership to establish incubators for young entrepreneurs.
Best also disclosed that as the ministry continued to look at the different aspects of education, a number of young people would be certified with Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQs) next month.
“Not all students can be academic. Right now most of the professions that attract the persons who are academic are saturated and therefore we are looking to diversify our educational offerings.
“It is happening and it is even being rolled out into older secondary schools. We have had inquiries, and interest from the older secondary schools as to how their students can pursue CVQs,” Best said.