Former Member of Parliament for St Michael South East, Hamilton Lashley, has linked social segregation in the island to the Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination and says it should be scrapped.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY, the former Minister of Social Transformation said the examination familiarly referred to as the 11-plus has led to division among young children who passed for older secondary schools and those enrolled in the newer secondary institutions.
“I am one of those persons who believe that the 11-plus examination should be scrapped. I do not understand why in a modern era when we have so many different models of primary education that we cannot find the right model. What has me puzzled is why do we continue with an examination that determines the success of a child based on two subjects English and Maths. It lends a sort of inferiority complex to some of those children who fail the 11+ exam,” Lashley told Barbados TODAY.
He added: “I believe in addition to that it is clear in my mind that the segregation has a very serious impact on these children’s lives particularly if they fail the 11-plus. I believe alternatively each child has his or her own unique ability and that child’s ability should be spotted whether it is in sports, the arts or another subject – technical or computer, rather than having a segregated educational system,” he said, adding that in his opinion the 11-plus exam was one of the most divisive aspects of Barbados’ educational system.
“It is one of the most segregated and backward modern educational systems. It could be the core problem of some of the problems we are seeing among our youth. You are telling me in order for me to be a success I have to pass the 11-plus exam and if you say no then why you still have it?” he questioned.
Lashley said authorities needed to sit down and seriously reexamine the educational system and make it far more relevant to today’s society.
“The government has to go away from making political decisions only and make decisions that are relevant to today’s world and make decisions that would boost our economy and our socio-economically fragile society as it is. All of the ills that we are looking at in our society are as a result of a much-needed reformation programme in education across Barbados and the Caribbean where there are still 11-plus examinations in place,” he said.
Lashley told Barbados TODAY that even at the ministerial level there was segregation with Members of Parliament based on what secondary school they attended. To this end, he said that the 11-plus exam had a psychological impact on young children in Barbados.
“It has a psychological impact on children’s minds and it is even more so in the newspapers where the success of all the children who did well is highlighted whereas the children who fail the 11-plus examination are made to feel badly,” he told Barbados TODAY.