Sweeping changes are on the horizon for Barbados’ education system, which will likely include the abolition of the controversial Common Entrance Examination, the introduction of ‘middle schools’ and a more diverse pool of academic opportunities for the country’s children.
During the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) public meeting on Sunday night, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw was expected to be given “a clean bill of health” soon after being diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer last August and Bradshaw’s mandate upon returning from receiving treatment in Miami, would be to abolish the “iniquity of the 11-plus exam”.
“All of us know you cannot discard people at 11 and 12 years old like if they are going on the dump heap of life and everybody is telling them that they haven’t passed. We have reached the point where we need to reject an approach to education that was settled by the British in the 1940’s,” said Mottley to a crowd of supporters at Carlisle Car Park in Bridgetown.
“Santia will start the conversation over the next six months about the abolition and replacement of the common entrance exam, the creation of middle schools and giving people the chance to decide what school they want to go to at 13 or 14, instead of 10 and 11. At the end of the second form, they can decide if they want to do a science, or technical or humanities or sports or history and geography or commerce or IT,” the PM explained.
Mottley admitted she had been unable to entirely change the system when she served as Education Minister in the mid 1990’s but promised she was now intent on going “the full journey…”
“We have to create an educational system that makes every school a top school!” Mottley exclaimed, arguing she believed the current system was significantly contributing to the prevalence of crime and violence currently affecting the society.
“There is no doubt in my mind that what we are facing is people who have been ignored and discarded and for whom there has not been sufficient attention. Everybody has a talent.. Every single human being has a talent.
“Every child has a talent and we are discarding too many and we are paying the price, as Dale [Marshall] would tell you, with the dislocation at the community level. When you see who is getting into trouble, it is 15 to 23-year-olds in this country. We can do better,” said Mottley.
Mottley noted that Government had put aside over $11 million to train young people in culture, sports and other critical areas like the Building Blocks Project, spearheaded by Youth Minister, Adrian Forde.
The Prime Minister also spoke of Government’s concern about the alarming number of local athletes coming from “broken homes” and was taking steps to stop it.
“My Government is going to get money and we started last week with the BCA [Barbados Cricket Association] and sporting organisations, to be able to hire psychologists and other people to support these young people so they don’t fall off the track. That is what is required,” she said. firstname.lastname@example.org