The 9th Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Eduction took place here at Atlantis last week and the usual bluster about improving our educational system to “transform the lives of our children.”
But how many times does this rhetoric need to be repeated before our Minister of Education (whomever he or she might be at any point) take themselves seriously and actually do something.
The current Minister of Education promoted a “new strategy for failing students” back in August 2013, but that’s the last we’ve heard of that, and the results? Well there does not seem to be an improvement.
So another government’s term is nearing an end and many of our kids are still being left at a disadvantage.
Did I mention that over $1 billion dollars will have been spent over the last four years ending June 2017 with little to show for it? See image to the left. The idea that you get better results with more spending is simply a myth woven the world over.
Of course improvement will come slowly as the failure has been ongoing for decades now, as the work of Ralph Massey and others have shown, here (pdf)… and here (pdf)… offering analysis and possible solutions.
Successful overall reform requires -
• Educational standards
• Flexibility in hiring, promoting and separating personnel that does not now exist in the public education system
• A major change in how teachers and principals are recruited and trained
• A compensation component that relates teacher and principal compensation to the skills acquired by students...to teaching effectiveness. Pay and promotion must not be tied to the number teacher training courses taken and years-in-service as is the case today
• A Department of Education with an independence and a management system that that will facilitate change.
A critical reservation in these reform proposals is that the scarce resource is the supply of outstanding teaching candidates and entrepreneurial principals. Any program that expands too rapidly will outrun the supply and thus inadvertently compromise reform. The country needs specific places to start such as -
• The creation of strategic agents of change: a Baby College, an expanded Program SURE and a Laboratory School, and
• Two innovative institutional mechanisms: Charter Schools and Educational Vouchers.
Furthermore, limited resources may even mean that, in order to fund change, it must drop the policy of retaining students in school who do not have the capability or willingness to learn.
Finally the Bahamas needs leaders who have the courage, wisdom and desire to put their names on the
Agents of Change proposed in this essay (pdf)…
It’s really time for high flying speeches to stop and true concern be shown to improve the education of future generations.