Achieve SDGs Through Cooperation

Joy-Ann Gill Top Stories

Minister of Education, Ronald Jones. (FP)

Caribbean countries have to rely on each other to ensure the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 4, which addresses education.

This sentiment was expressed today by Barbados’ Education Minister, Ronald Jones, at the start of the CBD/UNESCO Regional Technical Workshop on the Implications of the SDG 4 for Education Planning and Monitoring and Evaluation, at Accra Beach Hotel, Christ Church.

Giving the assurance that this country would work to satisfy these ideals, he said once statistics were collected, the region would be able to say to the world it had achieved much.

“We have to write our own stories more and more because the world is not taking us on as it should… Don’t let us pretend; we are more and more going to have to rely on our people, and with the scarcities that they have in their lives, to continue this project [SDG 4],” the Minister said, while stressing that Barbados had achieved much.

He also pointed out there were countries, long before the region, that had been trying to make education work, but had not been able to attain our levels “in the short space of time that we have achieved them”.

Commending the workshop, he added that effort must be made to bring about a change in our societies and economies, where education stands as a singular pillar that makes a difference.

“Sometimes, you have to look across borders and adopt some strategies from some countries to make your country work and work better. There cannot be any jealousy among these small dotted islands,” he declared.

The region’s purpose, he said, was to educate its citizens from cradle to grave, in what was considered lifelong learning. Noting that the dynamic nature of the world “challenges us to stay on the cutting edge”, he said it was also about having “that knowledge and skill and general behavior, which would truly make us genuine world citizens”.

Minister Jones pointed out, however, that we first had to be citizens of the Caribbean and not continue to fracture our relations because we follow a model handed down by others.

“Our talent pool, particularly for leadership, is too small to fight like others do; we have to develop a model that attracts the best talent across the entire space in our individual countries, otherwise the benefits that would accrue in a four or five year period can sometimes dissipate because practices and jealousies become embedded in the system and we lose out too much,” he said.

“Our talent pool, particularly for leadership, is too small to fight like others do; we have to develop a model that attracts the best talent across the entire space in our individual countries, otherwise the benefits that would accrue in a four or five year period can sometimes dissipate because practices and jealousies become embedded in the system and we lose out too much,” he said.

Meanwhile, Director/Representative of UNESCO Cluster Office of the Caribbean, Katherine Grisby, while noting progress had been made in education, said: “In early childhood care and education, the accomplishments were neither fully satisfactory nor continuous across the regions, partly due to difficult budget cuts confronting governments and insufficient private sector participation. Most of the Caribbean countries and territories have successfully reached universal primary education and many others were on very commendable trajectories to universal secondary education by 2015.”

She lamented, nonetheless, that all significant gains by the Caribbean over the past decades, seemed to have been compromised. This, she said, was reflected by an alarming pace of young children dropping out of school too early and before completing compulsory basic education.

It resulted in them leaving without appropriate levels of foundations of skills to allow access to technical and vocational training, other lifelong learning programmes or even to transition to the workplace.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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