Now is examination time for our students. It is the time of CPEA, CSEC, CAPE and for internal school examinations; a period of hope and expectations for students and parents.
The second phase comes with the release of results and the anxiety as students change forms, move from primary to secondary school, from secondary school to the community college, and then those able to access university education whether at home or abroad.
The third phase focuses on employment opportunities.
As we think of education we must expand our thoughts beyond the formal education system, especially at this time when so much learning occurs outside that system. Education really runs from the cradle to the grave.
I have always been concerned that we have not been paying as much attention as we should to early childhood education.
I was happy to have heard recently that the early childhood curriculum was to be restructured with the assistance of the OAS Development Co-operation Fund. Director of Economic Planning Laura Anthony-Browne informed that Early Childhood Education was recognised in the development plan as being critical to human development, while the Permanent Secretary spoke about life-long education and noted that the curriculum must evolve and reflect the changes of the times.
All of this is good, but how do we, practically, pull them together? And here I am moving beyond early childhood education. I ask this question because we have, for some time, been touting the relationship between education and development and have highlighted education as the vehicle to move the country forward.
But when one examines how the system functions all of this appears to revolve largely around producing people for the job market. The issue is much broader.
One wonders what the average student takes away from school, apart from expertise in a particular area. What is their understanding of SVG, of its history, its development and of themselves as citizens? There is no integrated approach. I state the above to provide a context, although it needs further expansion and clarification.
But my focus is really on childhood education.Early childhood education has been largely through Day Care centres run by private individuals.
I am aware that the Government has regulations specifying what is needed to start a Day Care programme, but am not sure how closely monitored are those centres.
The centres assist in the socialising of the child and hopefully provides access to facilities and resources that might not be present at home.
I grew up in a home where from very early I was exposed to books. I remember a collection of negro spirituals and folk songs from the southern US – ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariots;’ ‘John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave;’ I remember, two treasures I wish I still had access to – a book on the Windward Islands Cork Cup tournament and one that had pictures of the old cotton ginnery and arrowroot pool.
I trace my love for reading to those very early days
.The learning process begins before a child is born.
It is believed that during the last ten weeks of pregnancy the baby listens to its mother talk. So, learning starts before the child can talk.
Exposure at an early age, especially in situations where parents are poor, young, and not well educated, is critical to the child’s development.
These are, of course, broad generalisations, because different factors are at play.My plea is for us not only to talk about restructuring curricula, but to seriously walk the talk and to popularise the importance of pre-school education, the parent’s responsibility from birth and ensuring that facilities are adequate, with stimulus to facilitate creativity.
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian