A veteran educator is warning that Barbados’ economic and social growth will be stunted if the country does not reform its education system.
It has come from former Senator and retired principal Alwyn Adams, who has argued that with Barbados having transitioned to a Republic, the country ought to get rid of the current educational system which he has described as “a preservation of British rule”.
He made the points this afternoon while speaking at a Zoom webinar hosted by the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) entitled, Honest Conversations on Education Reform: Confronting the Elephant in the Room.
“Barbados as the newest Republic will not be able to achieve its social and economic aims until or unless the education system is reformed,” Adams contended.
“We had a situation where the chief persons in education in Barbados were all sent out from the United Kingdom. We are talking about the Bishop of Barbados, the Director of Education, the persons who were heads of the leading schools in Barbados and they painstakingly set out to have our education system functioning not so much for Barbados but for the preservation of British rule in the Caribbean.”
Adams said even the controversial 11-Plus, commonly referred to as the Common Entrance Examination, was “imported” from England.
He said what was even more alarming was the fact that the original papers that were set for the 11-Plus students in Barbados were set by persons in Scotland who “knew nothing and cared less” about Barbadian 11-year-olds in relation to cultural differences.
Dr Hyacinth Harris, who spoke on the topic, The Transition to Secondary Level Education: Possible Alternatives questioned whether Government’s planned reform of the education system including the abolition of the Common Entrance and establishment of middle schools would solve the current issues.
“We have issues that are related to the physical plants, we have issues related to the curriculum and the execution of it, we have issues related to principals, teachers, parents and students involvement in the decision-making processes and those matters that affect them,” Dr Harris, the former president of the Association of Public Primary School Principals pointed out.
She recommended that from primary to the tier 1 secondary level consist of students between the ages of 10 and 13. However, she said before moving on to secondary school, students should be engaged in formative assessments.
She suggested that students be assessed in mathematics, language arts, social studies and science.
Dr Harris also called for the abolition of the National Criterion Referenced Test.
Tara Durant, a teacher with experience working in Japan, called for educators to be involved in the planned education reform.
She said judging from a survey carried out at the BUT, teachers had several questions including if they would be relocated and disrupted; whether schools would be renamed to remove the stigma attached and if they would be adequately trained to adjust to a new curriculum.
Durant said concerns had been expressed by teachers that they would be left unprepared, similar to what happened at the start of online school when the COVID-19 pandemic stopped face-to-face classes.
“Do all teachers now need to be retrained to deliver this new curriculum if there is one and just how will that retraining be done? Teachers are concerned about when this will occur because obviously this needs to occur prior to implementation, not during implementation as we have seen with the remote learning when we had COVID, when teachers were literally flying the plane while building it,” Durant maintained. (RB)