Both government and opposition of the Barbados National Youth Parliament reached the consensus that the push for education reform must go beyond a change in curriculum.
In fact, while the House debated a Resolution on Education Reform in September 2022, prime minister Chade Smith and opposition leader Tyrel Giles supported the resolution but emphasized the importance of diversifying the current curriculum. Smith, who tabled the resolution, expressed the need to expand what is being taught currently because she said she understood times were changing especially as it related to the advancement of technology.
She said: “We want that if a child has interests in Robotics and Coding and Agriculture, that they would have access to learn that at the grassroots levels and be able to expand and build upon it as time goes on in this education system.”
Smith also added that just because a student may have an interest in studying “non-traditional” subjects like Agriculture, does not mean they should be treated differently or unfairly to those pursuing subjects like Law, Medicine, Engineering, etc.
While she acknowledged Barbados’ educational system was on a good path as it relates to incorporating these things, she wants it to continue so as to help our children reach their full potential. One such way, she suggested, was by revamping the already established Human and Family Life Education (HFLE) as a “transformational tool”. Currently, HFLE is mostly utilised for the promotion of sexual health. Still, the political leader wants it to be used as a window through which these youngsters can be educated on topics like financial literacy.
Leader of the opposition Tyrel Giles, while praising the education system on the island, warned that if authorities do not seek to upgrade the said system with the times, “we [will] soon realise that we are preparing our students for a test match with a T20 strategy”. His view was the further promotion of Information and communications technologies (ICTs) in the classrooms of our schools.
“We must meticulously implement ICTs into our schools not just because of Covid and relinquish them now that we’ve gone back to face-to-face, but if we really want to create global and digital citizens who can compete worldwide, we must continue to push this ‘Digital Citizen’s agenda’.
“Why are we pushing all this technology? E-commerce and e-business is on the rise. . . . Even the mason gets paid online and we must be able to teach them from school how to manoeuvre this technology that as they become global and digital citizens they are not robbed,” Giles added.