Education Sector in the Caribbean Lacks Political Will, Says Regional Educator

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Updated: April 21, 2017

It is no secret that there are critical issues in Belize’s education system as even Education Minister, Patrick Faber has alluded to such ranging from the quality of teachers in the classroom to the need for changes in the curriculum.  But on a wider view of things, Belize is not the only country in the Caribbean or in the region that is facing challenges in the education sector.  In a recent assessment done on the sector, Senior Research Officer at the University of the West Indies Open Campus noted that there is a lack of political will, vested interests and deep conservatism that is obstructing the transformation of the region’s education sector.  Meanwhile, Regional Educator, Dr Glenford Howe says there is more to it than just those issues cited.  He says there is an aversion to things not rooted in the colonial experience as well as a lack of institutional and implementation capacity and a fear of the effects of change.  In addition, the senior educator noted, quote, “Since the education system in the region was not designed to be inclusive, it is not surprising that, in the absence of fundamental reforms, it is proving to be unfit for education provision in a 21st century context, in which the focus is on democratization of access, inclusiveness, equitable provision of education for all learners, and addressing the individual needs of each student.”  End of quote.  Dr Howe also spoke of the outdated and outmoded criteria being used to test Caribbean students, saying that the regional education system remains inadequate at preparing young people for the world of work as reflected in the growing number of unemployed and underemployed persons, especially youth.  Furthermore, he says that there is a serious skills deficit across the region and an overall low educational base in many countries.  As it relates to technical and vocational education, Dr Howe says there continues to be a false perception in the region that such programmes are for school drop-outs and poor performers.  Dr Howe has drafted a CARICOM Human Resource Development Strategy that addresses many of the systematic failures he has identified.  For now, it is unclear whether that strategy will reach Belize and if it would be implemented.