Government is committed to working with the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) and similar higher education institutions to find sustainable solutions to existing challenges.
This assurance came today as Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw, addressed the start of RUSM’s two-day strategic planning retreat on the Zoom platform.
Commending RUSM, she noted this was also the sentiment of Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who identifies education and medical tourism as core areas in the effort to diversify our economy.
Thanking the university for the confidence placed in the island when they chose it as their destination, Minister Bradshaw said it had given the economy a major boost, providing employment opportunities for Barbadian businesses and individuals.
Speaking to RUSM’s focus on aligning its mission and goals with the needs of the 21st Century, Minister Bradshaw said implicit in this strategic direction was the need to focus on 21st Century skills – “a need that has been recognised by many governments and which has prompted them to make varying adjustments to their education systems”.
Elaborating, she said: “Based on the identified need to shift away from a strict focus on content accumulation to one of skills development, curriculum, pedagogy and assessment are the most heavily impacted areas.
“This retreat’s focus on ideas and themes to transform the RUSM curriculum as it tackles issues related to the three planning pillars (Academic Learning Environment, Educational Excellence and Sustainability) is a major step in navigating our changing societies.”
Ms. Bradshaw also praised the university for strides made in curriculum transformation, with the introduction of its Mind-Body Medicine student pilot programme in February of this year.
“It is truly heartening to know that the future healers of those suffering from physical, mental and emotional turmoil have access to a varied menu of mind-body skills that can assist them in their academic journey as well as in life. Such skills have become even more important as we navigate these uncharted waters surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Education Minister said.
Stressing that an information or knowledge economy required a broader suite of skills for learning, work and for life, Ms. Bradshaw pointed out that these skills were enablers, and provided the means to access a range of mental, social and physical activities.
“Shifts in skills, away from the narrow focus on literacy and numeracy and towards a broader set of skills, are needed to navigate our changing societies,” she stated.
Noting that RUSM had used the feedback from students to guide curriculum changes, the Education Minister said she had no doubt that, also in response to feedback from students, its continued modernisation of the curriculum would soon match the trends in telemedicine and the use of artificial intelligence.
While stating that she looked forward to RUSM engaging in curriculum transformation to address the interest in research expressed by medical science and clinical students but which is not addressed by the current curriculum, Ms. Bradshaw said: “This interest in research comes against the background of the recognition of the pivotal role played by higher education and research in driving the training, innovation and entrepreneurship needed for post-COVID-19 recovery as identified at several regional fora focused on mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.