IDB/GOB Loan Agreement Continues Support For Education

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Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones (left), at the signing ceremony. Also pictured are Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo; ,Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler;, and IDB’s Country Representative, Joel Branski.??(A. Miller/BGIS)??

Barbados’ signing of a US$20 Million Loan Agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), further consolidates the "cordial bilateral cooperation" existing between the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and that international funding agency.

This was stressed today by Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, as he addressed the official signing ceremony for the Loan Agreement 2739/OC-BA at Government Headquarters that will facilitate the execution of the Skills for the Future Program.

Pointing out that the Loan Agreement would support the education and training sectors, Minister Jones said it was an important instrument that would facilitate greater private-public cooperation in developing skills necessary for the future development of Barbados. He said: "The signing of the Skills for the Future Program Loan Agreement will open opportunities for strengthening our post-secondary institutions and support the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development’s efforts to expand our qualifications framework and decrease the number of students underperforming in the critical areas of Maths, English and Science.

"Further, it is envisaged that the Agreement will not only stimulate greater private-public sector interaction but will also lead to maximising the effective utilisation of the apprenticeship and school-to-work programmes offered by our industry partners."

Emphasising that the bilateral relationship between the IDB and the Government of Barbados (GOB) included areas of social development, trade, business investments, energy and housing development, Mr. Jones added: "In recent times, however, the IDB has supported government’s efforts to modernise the Barbados Education System, and by extension, the Barbados Economy through a comprehensive education reform programme – the Education Sector Enhancement Programme (ESEP)."??

He explained that the implementation of ESEP saw the IDB providing 40 per cent funding of the total investment of US$213 million, with the remaining financing provided by the Caribbean Development Bank and the GOB. While outlining the achievements of ESEP by the conclusion of that Loan Agreement in 2009, the Education Minister said 61 schools had received infrastructural works; high-speed internet connectivity was provided to all primary and secondary schools; and that technology distribution at the primary school was around 5,500, including laptops and PCs, Electronic Smart Boards, Graphic Computers, Multi-media Projectors, Digital Cameras, Colour Printers and Plotters.

Additionally, 2,200 of Barbados’ more than 3,000 teachers had been trained in technology mastery and the Ministry launched the full implementation of the Education Management Information System to all primary and secondary schools.

The objective of the Skills For The Future Program, is to support Government’s Human Resource Development Strategy with an emphasis on improving the quality and relevance of secondary education and the effectiveness of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). By ensuring that graduates from secondary and post secondary education have the academic, technical and life skills necessary to enter the labour market, or continue further education, and by expanding opportunities for demand driven training and skills certification, the Program aims to facilitate the school-to-work transition and improve the level of success among the youth in Barbados.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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