$1/2 BILLION SPENT ON EDUCATION

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Prime Minister David Thompson

Government is spending $1/2 billion annually to educate the nation’s children and it is currently exploring the possibility of expanding tertiary education in the north of the island.

Prime Minister, David Thompson, made this disclosure today as he announced plans to utilise the Alexandra School, Speightstown, St. Peter, and the surrounding schools to decentralise classes being taught at either the Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic or both.

Speaking to a large gathering at the school’s Annual Awards and Prize-Giving Ceremony, Mr. Thompson said that he was committed to addressing the lack of access to tertiary education which Principal, Jeffrey Broomes, alluded to in his report.

The Prime Minister said: “I know that people including your principal have been complaining about the lack of tertiary level education in the northern parishes. But, let me share the news with you that we are exploring the possibility of establishing an annex of either the Barbados Community College or the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic or both in this area.

“The option that we are considering, includes using existing facilities such as the Alexandra School, and other schools during the evening and on the weekend, to hold classes for the students close to their homes.  Now that we have the technology to run courses by distance education, clearly, taking education to the people, should not be difficult,” he remarked. 

Acknowledging the massive job losses as a result of the global economic crisis, the Prime Minister revealed government’s plans to keep Barbadians employed.

“I want the people of Barbados to understand that government cannot do everything for people; everybody has to play a part.  Government has decided to spend money on building infrastructure that is required for development.  That simply means, that we should be creating more jobs in building new roads and other systems of communication.”

He further stated that: “We are living in a modern age …we also have to focus on new technology and we plan to make it easier for Barbadians to connect to the internet and improve their education and earn a living,” Mr. Thompson stressed.

On the issue of alternative energy sources, Mr. Thompson pointed out that although the island was heavily dependent on oil, there were tremendous savings to be made by using other sources of energy.

While this may lead to the emergence of a new class of entrepreneurs, Mr. Thompson said he was still not convinced that all students had unleashed his or her creativity.

“The next method we are using to create employment and wealth is to develop enterprises based on creativity and innovation.  Therefore, more of our people have to be engaged in activities in which they have an expertise.  So, I would be the first to admit that we have not yet begun to develop all of the talents that our children are born with,” he observed.

“At our secondary schools, we follow a curriculum that is dominated by academic subjects.  When we have mastered these subjects, we consider them as a means of finding a job.  If our education system and our cultural policy and our outlook as a society can draw out that creativity at an early age, then we believe that we will have a better nation, and our education system would not be as boring as it is for many of our young people, but it would be something that they enjoy on a daily basis,” Mr. Thompson stressed.

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