Minister of Education and Human Resource Development Ronald Jones
It is not business as usual at the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development. According to Minister Ronald Jones, “the Ministry is going through a process of rationalisation of the operating arms of its technical wing.”
Mr. Jones added that the Ministry was seeking to gain maximum output from the allocation of human resources within the technical department.
Stating that it was not the first time changes had been made within the Ministry, Mr. Jones explained that along with name changes, some alterations were more profound.“Some changes are obviously cosmetic, in terms of names of departments, while others relate to the redeployment of personnel,” he said.
Mr. Jones pointed to the need for new staffing modules, adding that the Ministry did not previously have an educational planner. “In a government which spends approximately 20 percent of its annual budget on education, educational planning, research and statistical analysis is important. We need that particular department to take up much of the work that is necessary for decision making,“ he stated.
Minister Jones revealed that there has been strengthening of the Tertiary Section. “Previously, there was no technical person to lead that department. It was left to the administration cohort of the Ministry… but that area spends the most money, as it deals with institutions such as the Barbados Community College, Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and the University of the West Indies.
He stressed the importance of the Tertiary Section, formerly the Higher Education Section, in tracking the success of Barbadian students. “What is happening to all those students that the people of Barbados pay for? It’s not just a case of the provision of resources for tertiary education, but when you enter UWI, we have to know that if you are there for three or four years, that your time is completed…We have to know that you are indeed achieving,” he said.
Highlighting the significance of effective curriculum assessment. Mr. Jones stated: “We know that we have to lead the curriculum initiatives in the school system and assessment is a vital component of this initiative… How do you know how students have in fact learned if you do not carry out the appropriate assessment. The Ministry’s Curriculum Unit has therefore been renamed the Curriculum and Assessment Unit. We want to bring about alignment.”
Another feature of the Ministry’s overhaul is increased focus on creating associations with institutions that are necessary to keep teachers on the cutting edge. “This Ministry, as an institution, will be aiming to become aligned with associations such as the International Reading Association, the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development and the Literacy Association of the United Kingdom so that persons in education can benefit,” he noted.
Stressing the need to ensure that education in Barbados did not suffer from ‘stagnation’, Minister Jones pointed out that “education is not static. Education is life-long. It is dynamic… It has to be able to propel change and adapt to change. We therefore need the Ministry, which is the education leader in Barbados, to project that face.”
The departments which underwent name changes include: Curriculum, now Curriculum and Assessment; Planning, Research and Development, now Planning, Research and International Relations; Testing and Measurement, now the Examinations Unit; Higher Education, now Tertiary Section, and Student Services, now Student Support Services Unit.