One of the island’s educators has said that Barbadians have bastardized technical and vocational education and lionised their academic counterparts.
Dr Ian Marshall levelled this charge at policymakers on Thursday night while delivering the Samuel Jackman Prescod Memorial Lecture at the recently renamed Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology, Wildey, St Michael.
Distancing himself from that idea, Marshall said: “I understand, but do not agree with the thinking of that time (!969) which was those who are ‘more capable’ should leave Tech-Voch education for those who are less ‘capable’. That written or unwritten policy, whether wittingly or unwittingly, established a cancerous culture of Academics versus Tech-Voch that seemed to infect the students, the tutors, the administrators, and the general population, such that when the question of a merger with the University College of Barbados was mooted there was a deafening outcry that hotly declared that the SJPP is not an academic institution, they are Tech-Voch.”
Marshall reminded his audience that this outcry came at a time when the institution was headed by someone who had a PhD from City and Guilds, London, in the person of Dr George Callender.
“I want to suggest that this dichotomous mode of thinking must be eradicated from the narrative that seeks to reconceptualise Tech-Voch education and training,” he said.
Marshall said we have come full circle with world skills competitions clearly demonstrating that technical and vocational education is certainly not reserved for those with lesser academic ability, adding that technical and vocational education is a billion-dollar industry with the potential to leverage economic growth which is badly needed in our Caribbean economies.
He said Barbados has achieved education for all, contending that it is now time to focus on the provision of quality technical and vocational education.
“The new thrust must be quality and not quantity or expediency. Attention must be paid to graduation rates and tracer studies that follow students in their fields of endeavour after graduation, this information could be used to inform the nature and structure of future course offerings,” Marshall said.