Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones (FP)

Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones has welcomed the sentiments of Professor Cardinal Warde on the need for change in the island’s education system.

He was speaking during an interview with media personnel following the opening of a nursery class at St. Gabriel’s School on Henry’s Lane, St. Michael. Minister Jones commented on statements made by the Professor in the November 27 edition of the Sunday, Sun and stressed that the ???11-plus’ examination or the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE) was not to be considered ???the be all and end all of everything’.

He added that Government had already begun the process of transformation within the school system, as envisaged by Professor Warde. "You would find that over the last number of years, we have in fact introduced technology into our classrooms; one, as a teaching tool and [secondly as] a learning tool and, therefore, having implanted that, there would be some shifts in how students approach learning and how teachers approach teaching.

"We understand the relevance of both Science and Maths in the school system and that is why as part of the exercise going forward we have stressed very strongly that students in our primary schools, first, starting at the Class threes, become more embedded in Science and to actively encourage that embedding in Science," he underlined.

The Minister explained that by May 2012, there should be the first universal assessment across the school system for the project. "[It is to say] ???Let’s see where our students are at’ and ???How are they performing?’ and then we will do a sort of working backward [where] our Class twos will follow the next year; our Class Ones, the next year so that you would have right across the system.. Science well established," he maintained.

Pointing out that Social Studies would also be addressed in a similar manner, Mr. Jones stressed that it was not only Science and Maths that were important.?? "There are some things in the humanities that are also important to the evolution of any society and I know that the emphasis on Maths and Science is important but humanities, philosophy, history, social studies etc., must not be tossed by the wayside."

It was further explained that Barbados placed emphasis on multi-focal learning and Mr. Jones, who is a former teacher said: "I believe, though, that the point that Professor Warde was trying to get to, is to suggest to everybody in the education system that there are some schools [which] because of the 11-Plus [examination] place the emphasis heavily on Language Arts and Maths to the detriment of some of the other areas such as Science and Social Studies.

"And, therefore, a part of revamping the 11-Plus would be to encourage as we are doing with this [project]… It covers every school in the public sector and hopefully, we will have it in the private sector… and, therefore, you would have that total coverage of education rather than just the single focus on Maths and English, because you are trying to get a score to put you through to another school, to transfer you to another school. Holistic learning, I think, is what he is talking about."??????????????

While acknowledging that countries such as China, India, Malaysia and Singapore had been able to work through the harsh reality of the recession because of their highly innovative, scientific and entrepreneurial base, Mr. Jones noted that Professor Warde wanted Barbados to also adopt this model.

Lauding him as a "great innovator "and "inventor", the Minister, said of the Professor: "… His way of giving back to the Barbadian society, through education, is his process of encouragement, trying to urge educators and policy makers in Barbados to look at a similar model of education and development, so I would say it is something to be embraced."

Mr. Jones reiterated that Barbados had already embarked on this path and disclosed that meetings had already occurred with the Professor "to see how we can, in fact, start to roll out these kinds of initiatives", particularly at the primary level.?? "It is more looking at the primary school, where true learning starts to take place that would impact higher up the system," the Education Minister emphasised.


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