Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has disclosed that a new vision for education will be crafted to ensure that each child is educated to its fullest potential.
She made the statement today while addressing an ECLAC-UWI virtual Zoom meeting on Higher Education.
Noting that this vision was outlined many years ago in the White Paper on Education, which hinged on the premise that ‘each one must matter’, Ms. Mottley argued that she was not satisfied that the region had managed primary education to make that fundamental difference with respect to primary and secondary education.
Against this background, the Prime Minister said the new education strategy would place emphasis on a number of areas such as recruiting and training the “best teachers that we have” while concomitantly, elevating the status of the profession and providing a “cadre of persons capable of developing critical thinkers at all levels of the educational system”.
Ms. Mottley added: “We have to ensure that students at the secondary level are exposed to a range of relevant technical, vocational and academic skills that create the level of interest that makes them want to pursue higher education.”
The Prime Minister proffered the view that the vision must support students to obtain the requisite qualifications to allow them to move on to higher education. She noted that efforts must be undertaken to stabilise the reputation of the Caribbean Examinations Council.
Ms. Mottley highlighted the fact that higher education institutions must be properly resourced to create enough spaces for qualified students to gain access.
Additionally, she said that students who pursued higher learning must leave those institutions well-equipped for the job market in the region and overseas.
While higher learning and achieving certification are important, the Prime Minister stated she also wanted to see emphasis placed on students achieving the requisite social and emotional learning targets.
“Without the social and emotional learning targets, they would not be inspired to move to the next level and in many instances, what they have done may be undermined by reason of them becoming attracted into deviant and other types of behaviour that may literally undermine their capacity to move to the next level,” she cautioned.
Ms. Mottley continued: “By crafting this new vision and by implementing the steps necessary to achieve it, we can begin to believe that we would be able to boast of technical and vocational tracks comparable to the traditional academic tracks and perhaps even achieve the dual vocational training systems that we speak of so fondly that operate in Austria, Denmark and Switzerland.”
She also called for greater emphasis on Mathematics and Science, since solving complex problems not only required competencies in humanities and liberal arts, but in science, research, technology and ICT.
The Prime Minister reasoned that the continued commitment to an 11-plus system where “learning takes place by rote” and failed to develop critical thinking patterns was not serving the region well.
“By settling this new vision and creating well-resourced higher education institutions, at the tertiary level, we also have the potential to attract persons to our shores for study, recognising that tourism is not only for sun, sea and beach, but [it] can literally be at the centre of medical polices, such that education and medical tourism are at the core of our diversification of societies instead of relying on sun, sea and beach to fuel our economies…,” Ms. Mottley underscored.