Our Readers' Opinions
April 8, 2005
Reflections on the Education Revolution

EDITOR: The government of SVG proudly proclaims its intentions to make education play an essential role in moving the nation forward. It says it is creating an “education revolution”.

This is a commendable mission especially when it is seen in the context of many decades of educational inequality in SVG based on class, gender, disability, family background and geographic location. This “education revolution” promises to leave no component of the education system untouched.{{more}} Institutions linked to early childhood, primary, secondary, vocational, tertiary, and adult education have been called on to play their part in developing the quality of life for all Vincentians.

To show that it is serious, the government says that it is creating the enabling environment for education to flourish. It points to the fact that the Ministry of Education has one of the largest budgets within the public sector. In addition, it has already publicised its projects to ensure that teachers receive training so they can effectively and efficiently do their job, and it promises that mechanisms will be in place to provide support and enrichment programmes and services for students who need them.

The government also indicated its seriousness about attracting and managing funding from external sources. To support its education plans, SVG seeks assistance worth millions of dollars from external institutions such as the World Bank and the European Union. This means that the capacity of the government will be strengthened a great deal. This improved capacity should make the education sector stronger to tackle the scourge of educational inequality and underdevelopment.

To a large extent, this “education revolution” needs the commitment, understanding and active participation of workers in the education sector.

This is more important when seen in the context of the new policy of universal education.

This brings me to the importance of teachers. They are the ones mainly on the frontline providing knowledge and values to students. The teacher-training initiatives of the government are critical in empowering teachers to do an excellent job. In addition, empowering teachers means integrating them fully into the policy-making process in the education sector, improving their working conditions, better compensation, and paying more attention to the general welfare of teachers such as making it easier for them to access decent housing and quality health care. All staff in the education sector must also enjoy these benefits. However, these benefits must be complimented by a high sense of responsibility and mission demonstrated by teachers, administrators, and all other workers in the education system. The government has expressed its awareness of these issues and has declared its intentions to address them.

The efforts to get the community involved must embrace all communities throughout SVG, since the local communities including families, especially parents and heads of households, could make a difference in the implementation of the policies of the “education revolution”.

The philosophical and pedagogical dimensions which underlie the education strategies and policies must not be underestimated. If we are to develop the human resources of the nation, then these dimensions must be given full attention to ensure that they reflect the transformational and developmental needs of our society. The philosophical and the pedagogical aspects must be rooted in our quest to resolve difficult social development issues.

The ends and outcomes the “education revolution” works toward should address our deepest aspirations as citizens of a nation, the condition and nurturing of our soul and spirit, and the skills and knowledge needed for building an integrated people-centered economic, social and political system. The “education revolution” is a vehicle, within the larger effort, that can decisively take us toward those ends.

Maxwell Haywood