New Education Model Needed
|Caribbean School Children|
As the Caribbean continues to reel under severe economic pressure, there are many citizens, who in a desperate rush to find instant solutions have determined , that in order to correct the maladies, they must hold on to a nostalgia that is dangerous and self-defeating. Nowhere is this dangerous clinging to the past, more evident, than our failure to recognize that little will change without radically reforming the educational system throughout the entire region. To put it very mildly: we cannot have a new Caribbean Nation built on the pillars of a European education system.
In order to avoid facing up to the stark reality that our education system is now in complete failure mode, we are beginning to see the apologists enter the debate about what is wrong with the system. It is ironic that while they are finding great fractures within the system; they are still trying their utmost to protect it. In other words they want to fix it without changing it.
Throughout the region, our most precious resource-our children- are being told that by age eleven, they should be either showing great academic prowess or they can expect to be deemed failures for life. The transfer of children from our primary schools to our high school is usually determined by an examination that goes by several different names but is essentially one rooted in elitism. Those who can do well in the traditional academic subjects go on to the prestigious government elite high schools while their former classmates, are herded into other schools that are considered inferior.
Our children in need of remedial teaching and instruction are therefore left to fend for themselves. Modern and progressive social scientists, are now concluding that such an elitist approach, is breeding disenchanted youth and this is leading to social deviancy. Of course, the detractors will say that the school does not matter and that if the student wants to learn the institution cannot stop him or her from so doing. They then point to those who have succeeded without passing the exam at eleven. We can also go into the inner cities of America and find students that will succeed in spite of the crime, drugs and bullets that are their constant companions, but while we honor those , we also have to be honest and state , that while some will slip through , there are many resting in the cemetery because of stray bullets!
We will therefore continue our legitimate call for the educational planners in the Caribbean region, to put a halt to this elitist approach to education and realize that the entire future of the Caribbean Nation is dependent on educating our children to function in the new global economy. The days of chalk and talk, corporal punishment and the authoritarian approach to teaching and instruction, must now give way to: critical thinking, technology and a clear understanding of the historical path this region has travelled to its present location. Within this new model of education, our children must be exposed to exactly what it has taken this region to come from *Columbus to Castro. And how we can move beyond the colonial mentality to a new Caribbean thinking that encompasses our creative and natural ability to overcome adversity. We need a new education model to take us** beyond the(a) boundary.
*Title of Book by Dr. Eric Williams: From Columbus To Castro
** Title of Book by C.L.R. James: Beyond A Boundary