|From left: President of the BHTA, Colin Jordan; Minister of Education, Ronald Jones and Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, share a light moment at the launch. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??|
Efforts by tourism organisations to educate the island’s children, throughout the years have not gone unnoticed by the Education Ministry.
Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, in addressing the launch of an initiative called the Schools Tourism Education Programme (STEP), at the Hilton Barbados, made this known as he reminded those gathered that tourism education had for years been "an important component of the curriculum at primary and secondary levels".
He recalled: "At the primary level it is taught in the Class 3 curriculum, where students brainstorm to define the term ???tourist’; discuss reasons why tourists come to our island; identify and locate countries from which they mainly come; describe types of accommodation available in Barbados and discuss the influence of tourism on our culture, problems associated with the industry and the benefits to the country."??????
Adding that tourism education was integrated across classes, Mr. Jones said this included studies of topics such as Places of Interest, The Climate of Barbados, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Our Regional Neighbours, Our Culture, The Fishing Industry and Trading with the World.
The Education Minister further stressed: "At the junior secondary level, tourism studies are mainly integrated in two of the three modules, namely – People and the Environment and "Our Heritage. In the senior school, students who pursue CXC Social Studies and Geography are also engaged in tourism education."????
Alluding to sensitisation workshops conducted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Adopt-A-School programme of the BHTA, Mr. Jones congratulated the latter "for making those important linkages". And, he said, "It is therefore, no surprise to me today that you are persisting to forge additional linkages in 15 schools… It is my understanding that this programme not only complements the curriculum but also gives teachers the opportunity to spend a weekend and engage in some activity with locals and tourists alike."
According to the Education Minister, the benefits of STEP to students will include having a better understanding of various sectors of the tourism industry and the opportunities for employment; participating in school-to-work programmes to gain skills which will equip them for the workplace and interacting with resource persons or mentors to encourage them in areas of employment.
President of the BHTA, Colin Jordan in commending the programme to schools, said STEP was aimed at enhancing tourism education at the primary and secondary levels within the existing framework of the social studies syllabus.
He noted that the components would entail participating in the National Careers Showcase, hosted by the National Association of Guidance Counsellors; immersing social studies teachers in the tourism experience using the tourism businesses that have adopted the various schools; and providing CTO developed student-teacher handbooks and age group segmented student workbooks.
It would also include providing CTO-developed DVDs and leaflets on careers in tourism; involving tourism professionals in the delivery of tourism education to the children; assisting the Ministry of Education with the evaluation of the tourism segment of the social studies syllabus and providing tourism education through the Summer Camp programme. Following this, the STEP pilot programme will be rolled out across all public/ private primary and secondary schools.
Mr. Jordan stressed that immersion of teachers was key, noting that this would involve the teacher becoming a tourist; staying at a hotel; experiencing a tour of the hotel or an attraction; having structured interaction with the management and others, where the tourism professionals are able to share his/her experience and perspectives on the industry for which they are a part. "This immersion experience will better equip the teacher to transmit the subject matter of the tourism segment of the social studies syllabus once he/she returns to the classroom," he maintained.
Acknowledging the importance of the involvement of tourism professionals, he said: "We must become intimately involved and share our knowledge; we must share our experience and our perspectives. We have often been referred to as staying in our own little worlds running our businesses and not really getting as involved as we should be.
"We have decided to change that and we realise that we have to be involved in sharing tourism with our community and, in this case, with our school and our school children. We also will be mentoring those young people who intend to pursue tourism as a career."
The STEP initiative targets 15 schools in this pilot phase – eight at the primary and seven at the secondary levels – representing involvement across the island. STEP’s launch today also incorporated the start of the BHTA’s 2011 School’s Tourism Competition; which will require children to design a logo for the STEP initiative.