Barbadians have only themselves to blame when data compiled by international agencies does not paint an accurate picture of the country.
That is the contention of Minister of Education Ronald Jones who said yesterday that Barbadians’ aversion to participating in data research has come back to bite the country’s education system in the rear, in the form of unflattering analysis based on incomplete data.
Delivering the feature address at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)/ United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) regional technical workshop on the implications of the sustainable development goals for education, Jones lamented that quite often the statistical information compiled by international agencies does not reflect the Barbadian reality.
“Sometimes we see statistics that we don’t know where they come from, as though they are chickens hatching eggs, yard fowls that you have to go under the cellar to find. We have a fear of statistics in the region; we don’t like surveys. We answer based on what people want to hear, which would mean that sometimes you get half-truths and lies. We question why persons want to know about our life, about our children, about where we went to school,” Jones told the gathering at the Accra Beach Hotel.
Contending that schools should also be doing better at compiling statistics and passing them on to the relevant authorities, the Minister added: “Every school should have its own statistical gathering to guide its programmes and policies within the schools. When I look around and see the statistics from UNESCO and other institutions, I have to say to myself that this is not the Barbados I know, this is not the Barbados I live in every day. However, these organizations only have fractured statistics because we send fractured and incomplete statistics.”
That concern was echoed by Director of the University of the West Indies’ School of Education at Mona Campus, Professor Stafford Griffith, who also lamented the scarcity of data.
“The sad thing is that, too often, we find that there is missing data on a number of countries in the Caribbean. I am of the view if those of us who are seeking to do research are encountering such difficulties in trying to come to a reasoned decision based on data, then it must be many times more difficult for the countries themselves if such data is missing,” he said.
“I would hope as we go forward that we would take advantage of these workshops which are being implemented with the support of the Caribbean Development Bank and UNESCO, to improve not only our educational planning but also our monitoring and evaluation of the processes for the collection and analysis of appropriate data,” Griffith added.