This country still has much to achieve if it is to attain the Education For All (EFA) Goals by 2015.

Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, emphasised this today as he addressed the start of a Stakeholders??? Forum at the United Nations House, Hastings, Christ Church that reviewed Barbados??? progress to date.

He acknowledged that with respect to Goal One – expanding early childhood education – there was ???still a bit of road to go???, but stated that his Ministry was pursuing this with ???great fervour???, bringing all partners on board to do just that, though it might not be attained by the 2015 deadline, but within the next two or three years.

With respect to Goal Two of ensuring ???free and compulsory primary education for all???, the Minister said this, as well as secondary education, had been achieved a long time ago in Barbados.

And, Goal Three, which urges the promotion of learning and life skills of young people and adults, was said to be ongoing. ???That???s a continuous process of refreshing and replenishing and trying to ensure that succeeding generations are able to continue to benefit,??? he noted.

Addressing Goal Four, which seeks to achieve a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy, Mr. Jones said: ???For those Barbadians who were never able to benefit from the formal school system, second chance opportunities are being provided through our adult education programmes, both in the public and private sectors, and we constantly provide resources so that those who want to be part of that agenda are in fact not disadvantaged??????

Speaking about the notion of achieving gender parity in education ??? Goal Five ??? the Education Minister said this might now be questioned to some extent because statistics for Barbados and for some other countries, reflected that there was still ???a little hiccup in our transfer from primary to secondary schools, where the score for the girls is like two to three points higher???.

???I think that is a piece of social engineering because our girls [and] our young women ??? are really burning some very progressive trails; they are working hard and they are satisfying the particular needs of their families and country. We have some challenges with some of our young men, particularly at the lower end of the learning scale and some issues of becoming students-at-risk…

???And, therefore, that must be an area of focus. We cannot have our young women moving ahead at a galloping pace and our young men who will be their future husbands being left behind. That creates its own problems within a given society,??? stressed the former teacher, adding that this must be examined for Barbados to develop.

???With respect to the sixth goal of improving the quality of education, he said: ???We still have qualitative issues in education in Barbados. That???s a fact; it cannot be disputed; the reality is there. The research is there.???

The Education Minister concluded that the country should not have a major segment of its secondary school population leaving school after five, six or seven years without writing one CSEC, while some people waited patiently ???to open the exit door so that they (students) can leave”.

“That???s a qualitative issue??? It is speaking to the truth,??? Mr. Jones stressed.

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