Manager of MIS at the Ministry of Education
and Human Resource Development,
Chesterfield Marshall iscussing ICTs with
Senior Education pecialist with the World
Bank, Angela Demas (A. Miller/BGIS)

"Information Communication Technology (ICT) permeates the business environment, it underpins the success of modern economies and it provides governments with an efficient infrastructure."

This was stressed today by Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, as he addressed the World Bank Regional Learning Event on Improving Teaching and Learning Outcomes with Information Communication Technology (ICT) As A Cross Cutting Theme, at the Accra Beach Hotel.

The Education Minister gave a full account of the progress of the Education Sector Enhancement Programme (EDUTECH/ESEP). While noting that ICTs added value to the processes of learning and in the organisation and management of learning institutions, he told World Bank officials that soon this technology would be utilised by the island’s Cabinet.??

Mr. Jones said: "Indeed at the level of Government and Cabinet of Barbados, we are now moving to what we call e-cabinet solutions [where every] single Minister has been issued with a laptop and all of the various software that goes along with that and everything now will be sent to Cabinet Ministers digitally."

However, the Education Minister noted that it would not be without the infusion of monitoring and surveillance mechanisms. "Of course, I had some discussion with the consultants and we inserted in it an extremely high-level of security and we can track every single footprint relative to who does what; who prints what; who sends what where… not that we are scared of privileged information being leaked…," Mr. Jones disclosed.

Meanwhile, in relation to his own Ministry, he pointed out that given the scope, scale and complexity of the education sector, it was deemed efficacious to put into operation an Education Management Information System (EMIS) for both primary and secondary schools and to implement a Project Monitoring Information System. This, the Minister noted, would enable rapid evaluation of progress in relation to education indicators, such as student performance.

Mr. Jones explained: "The emphasis of the Education Sector Enhancement Programme was certainly about more than just numbers. The objectives of ESEP include "improved outcomes at the primary and secondary school levels" and "improvement in the range and relevance of skills acquired by school-leavers during the period of schooling.

"While not yet definitively linked to the implementation of the ESEP, it is a fact that the proportion of the student population scoring less than 30 per cent in the Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination decreased from 27.33 per cent in 2000 to 14.83 per cent by 2010. And, similarly, while again not unquestionably correlated, there has been an increase in the proportion of students sitting and passing four or more Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate subjects from 48.64% in 2000 to 62.45 per cent in 2010."

World Bank officials also heard there were lessons to learn from Barbados’ implementation challenges that ranged from financial and human resource capacity deficiencies, to procurement, attitudinal and stake holder buy-in. And, Mr. Jones stressed that it was arguable whether or not Barbados, through the implementation of the Education Sector Enhancement Programme, had seen an increase in the number of students contributing to the sustainable social and economic development of the country.

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