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Archive for the ‘Education’


Students all around the island is heading back to school this week, as a new school years begins in an environment where crimes among youths are on a steady climb, and an economy that’s surviving on a shoe string.

For parents and guardians throughout the region, it must be stressful time for those who’re truly concerned about the future of youth.

Nowadays, youths face pressures, not only in the classrooms but also on the streets. There is hardly week that goes by that we don’t hear a report of some type of violent crime. Sadly, more often than none these are crimes perpetuated on our youth and by our youth and in other instances, adults leading them astray.

People who usually speak out against this type of behaviour from our youth are often classified as elitist, old fashioned, or not with the times. But if we turn a blind to these situations, as it often is, then our youth are heading down a path for disaster, which will be a serious disadvantage to our country’s future.

Nurturing our children along the path of life is never easy and hiding them from the ills that may pop up along the way, is not going to make it any easier. What can help is a more responsible attitude from parents and those adults trusted with their care in school, at home and otherwise.

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Editor’s note:This article was published in the Editorial section of the Chronicle Newspaper on July 31st, 2009.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and other proponents of the controversial Universal Secondary Education (USE) system continue to use deceptive rhetoric to sell the ailing project as a success and refuse to face the fact that it is not working and needs to be fixed or abandoned.

In an interview broadcast during the inaugural international cricket match at the Windsor Park Stadium, PM Skerrit spoke of his expertise and experience as an educator as well as his training in psychology. As the interview unfolded, he mentioned USE as one of his pet projects but maybe his thoughts were more focused on psychology than education at the time.

Indeed, there seems to be perverse psychology at play behind the response of the USE’s advocates to mounting skepticism about the project. It is manifested in a three-pronged approach consisting of rehashing the good intentions of USE, glossing over its failures and implying that critics callously want to keep down “poor people’s children” who fail primary school.

It is a cunning play to stir up people’s raw emotions and hope this clouds their better judgment. But in the long term, it will not work. Those who feel it know it. Teachers, parents and students who are feeling the crushing effects of USE’s flaws cannot help acquiring the distressing knowledge that the system is crumbling around their ears.

No one questions the good intentions of the USE but critics question its effectiveness and practicality. No one expects a complex system like USE to work flawlessly from the inception but no one expects it to be retained if glaring fatal flaws make it unusable and damaging. Furthermore, no one wants to deny any child a secondary education. However, those who fail primary school cannot be dumped ‘en masse’ on secondary schools without dire consequences.

The issues with USE are quite straightforward. Hundreds of students are being admitted to secondary schools. Many are not literate and cannot absorb a normal secondary education. Teachers are being forced to juggle the special needs of such children with the needs of those children who are capable of handling secondary school work. This puts enormous pressure on secondary schools’ physical and human resources and parents, teachers and students are all short changed by the system.

Some advocates of USE point to its success in other countries without regard for the peculiarities of its nature and implementation in Dominica. In nations where USE is working, the learning curve for children who are being brought up to speed is not as long and as steep as it is here. The stark reality is that the gap in knowledge between those who are ready for secondary education and those who are not is monumental, not marginal, requiring massive remedial work that is simply too taxing for teachers and students.

The bottom line is: a school is not a secondary school because a sign on the door says so; it is a secondary school because secondary education is being taught and learnt there. If the students in a school are not being taught at secondary level, it cannot be a secondary school. No legitimate university accepts those who fail secondary school and no legitimate secondary school should accept those who fail primary school.

Dumping children who fail primary school into secondary schools and then teaching them primary school work while pretending they are getting a secondary education is tantamount to creating a “fool’s paradise.”
Give those who fail primary school every opportunity to get further education, but don’t call it a secondary education under USE when it is not.

Have your say.

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brain-drain

If education is the key to development in any knowledge-based economy, then why is Dominica losing so much of its human capital? Maybe the choices are so few.

Dominicans are becoming aware of the large flow of our brains down the drain especially during the annual graduation season of students from Dominica’s Secondary schools and the Dominica State College.

Every year during graduation students are given well-meaning advice on the value of an education and the need to build on whatever they have learnt as they continue the journey of life.

But few of these so-called advisers address the fact that only a small percentage of the graduating students every year will enter the job market; a large number will join the unemployed on the street corner and dozen more will go overseas in search of so-called greener pastures.

Statistics shows that the out-ward flow of the country’s best brains has been so steady over the years that it appears that Dominica’s education system has been commissioned to train persons for the job market of the United States, Canada, Antigua, Guadeloupe, St Martin, Tortola, and other countries in the region. The problem is that these emigrants have been educated to secondary and tertiary level in Dominica and are Dominica’s most productive and enterprising workers particularly at their age.

When are we going to realize that knowledge is a wealth-creating asset to our country’s development? I’m literally pleading with government leaders, to please come up with some incentives that will encourage more of educated brains to stay and help develop our small island economy. Not someone else economy.

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