Barbados, in its fourth year of executing the Skills For The Future (SFTF) Program, is continuing to reap success, says Education Lead Specialist with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Dr. Sabine Rieble-Aubourg.

The IDB representative affirmed this recently while on an Administrative Mission here to assess the status of the US $20 million SFTF initiative that commenced in 2012.

Providing media representatives with some details on the mission, Dr. Rieble- Aubourg said it was aimed at getting a good overview of the status of implementation of the various components, and identifying the progress made and any potential bottlenecks which needed to be addressed.

She reminded them that the program comprised four components. These were outlined as: support for an employer-driven training system; improving the quality and relevance of secondary and post-secondary education; institutional strengthening of the Ministries of Education and Labour and the various institutions involved, including the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and the Barbados Vocational Training Board; and a communication campaign.

The IDB official also lauded the successful A Ganar program, which uses the power of sports to help at-risk youth develop market-driven job skills.??Noting it ???was performing well??? and was on target, she said following an injection of US $500,000 by the USAID in November 2015, the Education Ministry, together with Partners of America, the implementation agency of A Ganar, was able to add three other secondary schools to the progam.

With 2016 being the final year for A Ganar, Dr. Rieble-Aubourg added that the IDB was working with the Education Ministry to process requests for a two-year extension that would move it towards a completion date of 2018. ???We all agree that a two-year extension will be necessary and advantageous to complete the ongoing activities,??? she stressed.

It was further noted that the IDB had embarked on discussions to focus more on Component II of the SFTF, which seeks to improve the relevance and quality of secondary education.

The IDB representative said as a result of the visits and reports garnered from both the A Ganar component and the partnerships formed, what was evident was that literacy and numeracy remained areas of concern that were in need of strengthening.

???We will work with the Ministry of Education to look more closely at what is required, starting at early childhood and primary education, to strengthen these areas to make sure that graduates coming out of secondary schools are well prepared??? to enter the world of work and to then participate in training initiatives, as provided by the CBTF [Competency-based Training Fund],??? Dr. Rieble-Aubourg assured.

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