The future of education in Barbados calls for the crafting of a new vision.
This was the contention of Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, as she addressed graduates at the 2020 virtual graduation ceremony of the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College (ETTC) on Saturday.
Over 200 teachers who graduated from various disciplines were charged by Ms. Mottley to be nation builders by moulding their students into a nation of critical thinkers and innovators, who could “solve our current problems and those problems which we will confront in the future”.
The Prime Minister lauded the College for playing a significant role since 1948, in equipping teachers with the requisite knowledge, attitudes and skills to transform the nation.
She pointed out that while Barbados did not have the natural resources like some of the more developed countries, its greatest and most valuable resource was its people.
She said this was why a decision was made over 50 years ago to allocate a larger portion of Government’s budget to education.
Ms. Mottley told the graduates that the country had to address a number of questions if it was to craft this new vision for education.
“We have to ask ourselves, how do we attract and retain the best talent at all levels of the teaching service? How do we reposition teaching in our society to be able to ensure that our brightest and best recognise that this is one of the most noble tasks that they will be called to give as a human being? The question therefore has serious implications for how we recruit, select, develop, recognise and we compensate educators.
“It is against this background that my Government is committed to the establishment of Master Teachers because we believe a good teacher who has reached a pinnacle of success ought not to be forced to transform into an administrator in circumstances where their love is teaching and not administration,” Ms. Mottley stated.
The Prime Minister said teacher appraisal and continuous development were critical to ensuring decisions were made in a “transparent environment” and that persons were held accountable.
She pointed out that rewarding excellence in the profession was also important in creating hallmarks for others to follow.
Calling teachers the frontline/essential workers of the education system, the Prime Minister told the graduates the future of education was in their hands.
“You can make a significant difference in the fortune of this country. As of today, there are approximately 40,000 young people within our education system from nursery to secondary level. You have been asked to take on a task that will ensure that our children have the knowledge, attitudes and skills to navigate this ever changing world,” she emphasised.
Ms. Mottley said educators could no longer view themselves as “the fount of all knowledge”, but must also be willing to learn from their students.
She explained that teaching must be seen as holistic, by incorporating common core values such as patriotism, loyalty, tolerance, compassion, empathy, trustworthiness, integrity and respect for self and others.
“No doubt, Erdiston College has furnished you with the tools that you need to make a difference to the education of every boy and girl in this country. It is up to you to use these tools effectively…. Let us rise to the task to ensure that we build a people who can be truly global citizens, but forever anchored by Barbadian roots,” Ms. Mottley asserted.