Stakeholders in the education system have been urged to see education and training as economic issues.

This was stressed yesterday by Programme Director of the Programme Coordinating Unit with the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, Paul Murphy. He was at the time addressing the start of a stakeholders’ consultation on Barbados’ Education and Training Sectors at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

??He said: "Education and training are economic issues if not, the economic issues of our time. We must, therefore, see this as the time for reinvention and as a period where we examine seriously what we want for education and what is the best way to deliver the education that our people deserve."

Mr. Murphy noted that research had pointed out that early experiences shaped whether a child’s brain develop strong skills for future learning behavior and stressed that investing in pre-primary learning made economic sense. "For every dollar invested, there is significant return to society in decreased need for remediation and special education services. Our new education strategy must, therefore, explore this," he maintained.

The educational professional also maintained that teachers often played a pivotal role in whether children would become successful. He explained that some researchers had posited the view that "from the moment children enter the classroom, the single most important factor in determining their achievement is their teacher."

Mr. Murphy therefore, contended: "To ensure competent and effective teachers that are organised for success, Barbados’ new education and training strategies must have as a major role the fundamental transformation of the teaching profession by ensuring opportunities for professional growth and career development, like what is done with law and engineering." And, he added: "However, this can only happen if we have a re-organised, reinvigorated and dynamic training institution capable of such delivery."

Lamenting the challenges of some curricula, the Programme Director added: "Fifty years after the introduction of free primary and secondary education, and 10 years since the introduction of major curriculum initiatives as part of the education sector enhancement programme, science and maths education is in crisis at many of our schools. Indeed, the CXC results are less than impressive."?? He, therefore asked that science and maths become national priorities, as we try to educate 21st century learners."

Mr.?? Murphy also spoke about tackling indiscipline in the system, stressing that a lack of student discipline was a major challenge facing many schools. He stressed: "… The time has come for the Ministry of Education to work hand-in-hand with schools to develop innovative programmes based on one simple premise; ???stop problem behavior before it starts’."

The official further maintained that Barbados’ position in tomorrow’s economy would be determined by the ability to plot the course through an effort changing attitude. "No doubt, education will be the most important tool in doing so. Students must be given the ability to think critically and innovatively, expanding innovation and technological competence and by adopting best practices in education, Barbados can achieve stability, prosperity and sustainable development," Mr. Murphy contended.

The consultation served a two-fold purpose of allowing stakeholders to discuss and share how best Barbados could produce high quality education and to hear from consultants, including those from the Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank’s, plans for the next 18 months.??jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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