Participants at the Barbados Education and Training Sector Studies Workshop, held today by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and the Inter-American Development Bank at Illuminat, White Park Road St. Michael. ??It was entitled: Using Education Data: Best Practices and Lessons Learned From Other Countries. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Principals have been urged to use the technology at their disposal to measure what is done in the education system.

This appeal came today from Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, as he addressed a workshop entitled: Using Education Data:?? Best Practices and Lessons Learned from Other Countries. It was held at the Illuminat Training Room, White Park Road, Bridgetown.

Minister Jones said: "Use the technology that is there to compile the data and to answer the request relative to the presentation of the information." Citing examples, he added: "So it is not just about taking the exam and using those statistics, relevant as they are; but also if a school has 1,000 students in each year group, don’t bring statistics that show only 500 did the exam.

"Bring the other 500 and say where they have gone. Did they [students] exit school? So, when we interrogate the statistics we have the exact knowledge of what is happening."

The Minister also stressed to principals the need to consider a unique identifier.?? "Today, a number of disparate identification systems are used, including numbers assigned for CXC examinations, numbers given to students at primary and secondary schools, and numbers assigned to each student at our post-secondary and tertiary level institutions," Mr. Jones noted.

Stating that this unique identifier in Barbados should be from the ???cradle to the grave’, he contended: "Barbados developed a national identification registration system… it should track through our universities within the region or our university campus here in Barbados…

This should be] one seamless identifier so you can track what is the progress of the child and what are the difficulties that a child is experiencing over time. But we have all of these multiple identifiers within the country and that sometimes creates a bit of a problem."

Commending the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), for its support and sponsorship of the workshop and the Barbados Education and Training Sector Studies, the Education Minister observed the session was timely as it explored how the powerful potential of statistics was being utilised to address worldwide concerns over quality in the content and process of education. The workshop was also aimed at demonstrating and sharing best practices in using data as an instrument of educational innovations for quality teaching, learning and effective management.

On November 27, 2010, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development signed a Technical Cooperation Agreement with the IDB to recruit a number of consultants to provide a detailed study of the education and training sectors in Barbados; analyse the various sub-sectors; close existing data gaps; and provide input for discussion on policy and decision-making for the future. The four components of the Technical Cooperation Agreement are Education and Training Sector Strategic Planning; Technical Vocational Education & Training Sector Analysis; Labour Market Dynamics Analysis; and a Blueprint for an Agricultural Training Institute.

Meanwhile, Lead Education Specialist with the IDB, Carlos Herran, said data management was important and could be used at the system level for monitoring of the entire educational system; and its problems and progress, as well as at the school level to monitor performance and progress in learning. He added: "They are distinct but they are both equally important because in the end your monitoring of the system of performance will always improve the performance of each individual school. So, it is important to go just beyond actually collecting the data to analysing and reporting it back to the schools.

"They can recognise and use the data to improve their pedagogue, adopt best practices and make decisions about school management that would favour better learning and change things within the school."

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