Feature: B???dos Committed To Improving Quality Of Education

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Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, listens attentively to Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova during the meeting. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)

Barbados remains committed to continuously improving the quality of education as the country moves closer to the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education For All Goals (EFAs).

This was emphasised recently as officials of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, led by Minister Ronald Jones, met with Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, at the Elsie Payne Complex.

Senior Education Officer (Planning, Research and International Relations), Dr. Roderick Rudder, in providing a perspective on the Ministry’s progress towards the MDGs and EFAs leading up to the targeted period of 2015, said: "We are looking forward to conducting the kind of analysis to report on Barbados’ achievement within the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We are aware of the pending UNESCO requirement for a National Report to be submitted on the status of achievement of these internationally agreed goals. We are eagerly awaiting some important data from the 2010 Census conducted by the Barbados Statistical Service that would assist us tremendously in that area.

"Outside of that, we are very clear, coming out of a number of discussions locally and from the Fourth International Policy Dialogue Forum of the International Task Force on Teachers For Education For All, held recently in New Delhi, about the need for us to pay very close attention to the quality of the pedagogy delivered in the classroom and to addressing the gap in the supply of trained teachers."

Dr. Rudder also noted that a major focus, not only now but in the post 2015 period, would be on "the kind of teacher that we need in the twenty-first century delivering quality pedagogy in Barbadian schools".?? And, he suggested this would go a long way towards enhancing the quality of instruction, students and ultimately the quality of Barbadians contributing to national development.

Acknowledging that in some cases everyone would not benefit at the same level, he said the Ministry wanted to ensure that persons leaving the education system were equipped with the skills and competencies to make a meaningful contribution to the economic and social development of the country while helping to solve key challenges faced by Barbados.

While giving Ms. Bokova insight into the current thinking of the Ministry, the senior official said: "We would love to see in Barbados the development of a research culture which is driven by science and innovation that would support what is happening across the country and also, to lead us into a new phase of national development which would see entrepreneurship starting in our schools through the curriculum. He added that it would include using the inscription of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison to drive a new phase of pedagogy and learning in our classrooms that will inspire Barbadians to reach higher levels of achievement.

Pointing out too that the island was "well aware" of the need to improve on universal access, Dr. Rudder told the UNESCO Head: "We do have universal access to education but the quality of that access is something that we are going to be focused on in the coming months and years."?? He added that expansion of early childhood education would continue as the Education Ministry was very much committed to ensuring that every child as long as he/she has reached the age of three years old would have access to a place in schools.

He stressed: "We are working very hard towards achieving universal access at the early childhood level plus improving the quality of instruction there. We are also working very hard at enhancing the quality of special needs education in Barbados including inclusive education for all.

"We are hoping that through the work UNESCO is putting in, plus the development of a new strategic direction [by the Education Ministry], over the next five years or so, that these would help us to provide a model which small developing countries and others can emulate."????????

Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer, Laurie King, in supporting Dr. Rudder added that the Ministry would also be paying "special attention" to the areas of teacher training and re-training. He said: "We recognised that in the past we tended to treat teacher training as an end in itself but nowadays we must have our teachers constantly re-trained in order for them to deliver the kind of instruction in the classroom that would meet the needs of this decade and beyond.

"So, we will also be working closely with UNESCO in terms of teacher training because when you look at the teaching and learning transaction certainly the delivery of pedagogy in the classroom ranks very high as one of the factors that would take us to where we want to go in terms of the development of education in Barbados."

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Minister of Education, Ronald Jone (centre, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0);??Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova; and Principal of George Lamming Primary School, Philip Roach, are pictured with pupils of the school during a tour of the facility. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)??

Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova had earlier disclosed that the Paris-based organisation was working on assessing the progress of regions towards achieving the MDGs.??While she noted that Barbados was "one of the best examples if not the best, on how education can drive development", Ms. Bokova said: "We have launched the Report and are inviting member states to prepare initial reports up to 2015. This is a way of monitoring ourselves so that everybody mobilises a lot of analyses and resources to see for each country where we stand, how we are doing, what is right and what is wrong.

"We hope it is a very rewarding exercise…I believe already some important strategic views are emerging related to equality of education, which is a problem for everybody, as well as equity.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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