Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, (second??from right),??at the panel discussion. Also pictured from left are members of the Governor General’s delegation – President and CEO of the Hospital for Sick Children, Mary Jo Haddad; Secretary to the Governor General of Canada, Stephen Wallace; Canada’s High Commissioner in Barbados, Ruth Archibald and Governor General, David Johnston. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Education Minister Ronald Jones has deemed the just concluded working visit by the Canadian Governor General (GG) His Excellency David Johnston to this island, "an important occasion which can continue to cement the relationship between Canada and Barbados".

He was, at the time, delivering remarks at the close of a panel discussion, at the Barbados Community College (BCC), that examined The Contribution of Community Colleges to Employability and Economic Prosperity.

Recalling the historical ties between the two countries, Minister Jones told a gathering that included the Canadian GG and a delegation of educational officials, that Barbados was being strengthened as a result of the cross-fertilisation.

"We have been able to cross fertilise all of our educational endeavours. Barbadians know Canadian Community Colleges and universities.?? There are so many Barbadians who have shared in the educational fare that you offer at these various outstanding Canadian universities.

"And, they come back to Barbados and are able to share their knowledge and experiences not only in the academic realm, but the social realm," observed Mr. Jones.

Development was in sync with the global changes, he said the island saw itself as an international space and not just a domestic one and was cognisant of what had to be done.?? Explaining that Barbadians were being sent to "so many places across the world", he said, "we have to ensure that we get the education and training so that when our people go, wherever they have to, that they fit in nicely with the culture and the society."

The Education Minister expressed his satisfaction with the high standards of Canadian universities and colleges remarking that over the last four years or so, over 100 Barbadian teachers had received training locally when a team from Mount Saint Vincent University in Canada conducted a programme in special needs education at the levels of under graduate and post graduate. "Those teachers are now dispersed across our school system dealing with special needs education," Mr. Jones disclosed.

While he heaped praise on the bilateral arrangements and programmes at the BCC and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, the Minister told the Canadian delegation that the "strong and deep connection" with them also related to the National Development Scholarship issued via his Ministry. He pointed out that these had resulted in some students being able to study reconstructive surgery and other areas of specialisation in Canada.

The movement of Canadian students to the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus was also recognised by Mr. Jones who gave the assurance that Government would continue to build accommodation to facilitate even more.

And, the Education Minister concluded: "Even though we see ourselves challenged… we will continue to work across the space and to develop our human resource… and develop our young people and the people of our mutual nations so that as we cross fertilise we will grow more committed to the development of our cultural society."


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