Nation News - Barbados

SECONDARY SCHOOL students favouring a technical education over an academic one are in line for a better deal from the Ministry of Education, with training and certification.

“Soon we will be coming with a package,” Chief Education Officer, Wendy Griffith-Watson, said during the Down To Brass Tacks radio programme recently. “It was part of curriculum reform since 2000 but we were unable to implement it because we had no recognised qualification.”

Griffith-Watson reported that the ministry would be teaming up with the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to have vocational qualification “for the skilled areas and the technical vocational areas”.

She said she believed it would make a marked difference in how most boys perform.

“We have to accept that a significant number of our boys do not want to have careers that stem from a purely academic route,” she added. “They want to be highly paid for their technical and skilled knowledge, et cetera.

“These technical and vocational qualifications will therefore facilitate a better throughput of boys, not only at the secondary level but also those who want to go on to be top-class technicians or engineers.”

There are six schools already in the pilot programme, including Combermere and Coleridge & Parry, with an overwhelming response at Combermere from boys to join the electrical installation group, Griffith-Watson reported.

The radio programme dealt with issues including the performance of boys and girls in the educational system.

Former Chief Education Officer Ralph Boyce, now head of the Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA), called for at least one male teacher to be employed at each school in Barbados.

He also appealed for a better deal for men in strained family situations, complaining that “a lot of the laws and the way they are administered in court are definitely skewed” against men.

“The Maintenance Act of 1985 refers to a single woman as the only one who can go to the lower courts to get maintenance,” he stated.

Another panellist, Janet Belle, suggested parents needed to change some of the ways they raised boys so as to prepare them better for an education, including encouraging reading and taking time to reflect or sit quietly and study. These were things girls were encouraged to do, she pointed out.

Griffith-Watson also brushed aside any suggestion that boys were hurt by co-education, saying that studies on this were inconclusive.