Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones (left, head of table) with Permanent Secretary, Cecile Humphrey (right,??Head of Table) at the review meeting today with IDB representatives and officials of his Ministry??and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is currently in Barbados for an Operation Mission that started on December 5 and will continue until tomorrow, Friday, December 9.

Representatives of the Bank, along with officials of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security are reviewing a number of technical assistance activities under the Barbados Education and Training Sector Technical Operation.

Programme Director of the Programme Coordinating Unit of the Education Sector Enhancement Programme (ESEP), Paul Murphy, in explaining the operational mission noted that the activities with the Bank would facilitate the preparation of a new loan operation between the Government of Barbados and the IDB valued at US$20 million.?? The new loan is expected to concentrate on professional development of teachers, technical and vocational education and the total enhancement of education and training sectors.

According to him, the operation is also expected to address improvements in the country’s Labour Market Information Systems and lead to the development of the Hope Agricultural Training Institute, proposed for the north of the island. "The collaborations this week are basically to fortify the commitment between the Government of Barbados

and the IDB to implement those initiatives," Mr. Murphy said, adding that discussions on a number of reports submitted by consultants would continue until December 9.

He further explained: "We will be primarily focusing on the Consultants’ reports on Labour Market Dynamics and Technical and Vocational Education at the secondary and post-secondary levels.?? Additionally, there are a number of new initiatives that we are going to be discussing including the possible hosting of an international conference on technical and vocational education and the role of the private sector in such an initiative.??

"The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development will also explore with the IDB the possible participation of Barbados and the rest of CARICOM in international education assessment. It is important, of course, for us to know where we are; how we are performing with respect to our educational system [and] against our sisters and brothers in the Caribbean and further afield."

The Ministry and its stakeholders, including Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the IDB were today, Thursday, December 8, presented with a review of the ESEP, familiarly known as EDUTECH. This was undertaken by local consultant Dr. Jennifer Obidah who is also Director of the School of Education at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

Speaking on the contents of this particular consultancy, Mr. Murphy said, Dr. Obidah was contracted by the IDB to undertake a review of the ESEP/EDUTECH and her presentation examined all of its components. These included the rehabilitation of schools; technology integration in schools; the professional development of our teachers; institutional strengthening; curriculum reform and budgetary as well as procurement functions that would have occurred during the implementation of the ESEP.??

"That’s going to be a critical part of this mission. It basically will say ???Did we do what we wanted to do under the ESEP?’, ???What were the lessons learned?’ and ???What do we need to do going forward as we are about to implement new programmes and projects with IDB, CDB and the European Union?’" Mr. Murphy noted.??

Following the review process, and over the next few months, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development will work closely with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the IDB to meet that Bank’s June 2012 deadline for the approval of the new loan operation.

Mr. Murphy stated that there would be a number of follow-up missions and constant dialoguing with the Bank to ensure that the country could complete the technical assistance activities and chart the way forward with respect to the new loan operation. "It has to be determined how the Government will utilise the new funds from the Bank," the Programme Director stressed.


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