EDITOR: We welcome the new Minister of Education and hope that he would bring a change in policy to benefit the sector. We have great expectations of him as he has a reputation for independent thought and reason. He will need to understand our present situation and create and implement policies that will help to solve problems, create jobs, and lift St. Vincent and the Grenadines higher.
It is clear that most students leaving our schools are not adequately prepared neither for further studies nor for the world of work. Education should help us to do what we do better. This means that all our professions should be helped by education. These include Seamen, Fishermen, Farmers, Construction workers, Mechanics, Office machine repair persons, Computer technicians, Medical equipment technicians, Journalists, Parliamentarians, Accountants, Business people, Pharmacists, Doctors, Teachers, Preachers, Counsellors, Lawyers, Homemakers and more.
Students leaving school should have a skill, be well read, be numerate, literate, have the capacity to think and solve problems, to employ themselves and others. They should be
well grounded in the basics of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.
For Literacy, libraries need to be accessible to all students. Therefore, arrangements should be made to establish library services in each community. Schools should be encouraged to establish their own functioning libraries.
Community libraries should have convenient opening hours. Librarians should be valued and paid well. Reading of books should be treasured. People in Education should model and encourage Reading. The local newspapers must feature in these exercises. Active membership in a library should count for points in the award of scholarships. The recent Public Speaking Competition indicated that our students are not widely read, as they could not speak well on any of the impromptu topics. There is no better way to improve Reading than through the practice of reading. Book reports, oral reports, and reading tests are some ways of measuring Reading.
Writing is in decline because we do not practice Writing. Students should be encouraged to do real writing – nonfiction as well as fiction. Real articles and letters should be written and some should be published on the internet and in the local newspapers. Each school has much to write about and the internet creates a platform for each school to have its own magazine with its full school body of writers.
Mathematics and Reasoning are basic skills that everyone needs. All teachers, assistants and workers in the school setting should be required to have at least a pass in CSEC Mathematics. Time and opportunity should be given for all to upgrade themselves. We will not conquer Mathematics unless those teaching meet the minimum standards. We have to be judicious in the use of electronic gadgets so that our students do not lose their acuity in Mathematics. Knowing the Tables is still fundamental.
The time has come to end discrimination in school funding, staffing, and curriculum offerings. The Education Revolution means opportunity for all students at the level of their school in their own community. Those who benefit from the current system will resist change.
Although the majority of the people of the country have adopted the mantra of jobs, jobs, jobs, they cannot be provided for everyone. To lift the country higher, students have to be prepared to create their own jobs and perhaps hire others.
Based on the needs of the country at this time, the core subjects should be: English A, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Additionally, 2 skill subjects should be taught in preparation for self-employment. This leaves room for 1 elective subject. Computer Science needs not be a separate subject as it should be widely utilized in all subject areas. All subjects should be taught from forms 1 to 5.
Anthony Stewart, PhD