Those teachers who will spend the first two weeks of their vacation at Wheelock College in Boston, to enhance their knowledge in early childhood education, have been reminded of the impact they have in shaping the future of the island???s students.

The reminder came on Wednesday, as Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones met with the 25 teachers at the Higher Education Development Unit at Government Hill, St. Michael.

Congratulating them for being the first cohort in the effort to ???strengthen the base of our school system???, he told the teachers he believed they truly recognised that the foundation years of a child were of utmost importance. He stressed that it was at the very basic level that the country needed its best teachers to ???make that definitive commitment??? to deal with the three to five year olds and beyond.

Mr. Jones noted that every child had the capacity to learn but sometimes five or six years down the road something happens that damages or traumatises them, such that their intellect that was bright and shining and their emotional and cognitive capacity that once existed, is no longer there.

???We all have to take responsibility for outing that spark,??? Mr. Jones said adding that he wanted teachers to see the future of Barbados as being embedded ???in the little bosoms of our children, of our young people from three to 16 and beyond???. Teachers were therefore challenged to transform themselves first and then the students.

Referring to the recent results of the Barbados Secondary Schools??? Entrance Examination, the Education Minister observed that there were still conceptual, methodological and other gaps. He stressed that there was no way children should be scoring less than 60 per cent in Mathematics and English, two of the core subjects, unless they were really subnormal or abnormal, or encountered emotional, psychological and other dysfunctional problems.

Noting that the Ministry might have to set the threshold at 50 per cent, he said: ???We will tell you, all of those who teach in our schools that we want to see the majority of our students scoring 50 per cent and above.???

Querying why some schools should have students scoring below 40 per cent, Minister Jones said: ???I know some of the reasons??? and come September, we are going to do further investigations in several of those schools [as to] why we are seeing that particular profile.

???Those teachers can prepare themselves all during this vacation because we will be visiting. We will be analysing and doing the diagnosis because we have to make a difference and change the profile of those schools; of how those children are taught and how they are perceived by those who teach them.???

The overseas workshop, which is being funded by a grant from The Maria Holder Memorial Trust entitled Improving the Lives of Children and Families in Barbados, will run from July 7 to 17.

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