Barbados is being seen by one regional policymaker as a leader in an evolving Caribbean education system.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Education Michael Browne said education in the region continued to progress, with Barbados at the top of the pack.
“They are evolving; Barbados perhaps leads the way in the extent to which it can evolve its education system. But education is something that is constant – as the economy changes, as the demands of life change – then it means our education systems collectively and individually must continue to evolve. Barbados leads the way as it should from its historical perspective,” Browne said during a visit here, where he engaged the Maria Holder Memorial Trust which is planning to establish a $2.5 million early childhood centre in Antigua and Barbuda.
The visiting minister said there was “so much goodness” in education, but it was being undermined by a high level of criticism of the efforts by people and institutions.
“I think collectively from Trinidad all the way to Jamaica, the entire Caribbean we are doing a lot of small goods in education but we have been so busy underselling ourselves, over-politicizing happenings and the media has do a lot of selling the positives,” he said.
In recent times the education system here and in the region has been said to be failing students and in need of reform.
At a conference on higher education last October, Dr Mariana Alfonso, a senior education specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank, had warned that even though Barbados was considered a leader in Latin America and the Caribbean, its overall level of learning was still way below par.
Basing her assessment on studies done between 1999 and 2012, she said many school leavers could not even meet the basic requirement of four Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) passes for entry into the public service.
A week later, university professor Dr Justin Robinson claimed Barbados’ education system was creating a “world-class elite”, but a large percentage of people were “falling through the cracks”, with more than 90 per cent of students unable to pass five subjects in one sitting.
However, Minister of Education Ronald Jones has denied those charges, contending information presented on the education system by some officials was “all wrong”.