The education and training provided to students of the Caribbean is for the most part disconnected from the human resource which the region needs for its economic development.
Registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Glenroy Cumberbatch, yesterday emphasised, to education stakeholders, the need to align education and training with the needs of the region.
“Every country across the world is educating people…The purpose is to ensure that they develop good citizens who can contribute to the social and economic development of our countries, not to see how many people get grades one at the CXC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) examinations or to see how many people have degrees…”
Cumberbatch said: “We have several people across the region at the secondary level who cannot find employment and worse, who (have) finished their education at the university level and have degrees in medicine, (and) in law and still can’t find employment. There is a mismatch between what we are doing and what is needed,” the registrar said.
Cumberbatch told the gathering, at the launch of the accreditation to award Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQs) held at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown yesterday, that it is vital that training in the Caribbean is in keeping with the needs of the region.
“Some countries have made it abundantly clear that no child should leave school without a CVQ… that is to match what they are doing. It is imperative that persons follow the CVQ programme so that the skills they leave school with are more work related… intelligence must not be seen as people with first class honours only, but the ordinary people who contribute to the economy must be seen as intelligent also,” Cumberbatch charged.
The registrar stressed the importance of identifying 21st century learning skills and integrating them with the training which is delivered to students of the Caribbean.
Speaking of the four Cs for learning, the CXC Registrar identified communication as one.
Unable to Communicate
“Too many people leave school unable to communicate … and we also need to learn to communicate in more than one language. Creativity is another one … learning something and regurgitating it is not an example of an intelligent person.
We have to redefine what intelligence is. Sometimes we believe, if I learn something by heart and give it back is intelligence, but how can I take something and transform it into something else, something that is better for me, my family and my country? How can I do that kind of engineering?” the registrar challenged.
Continuing the identification of skills required for the proper development of productive human resource, Cumberbatch said, “we also speak about critical thinking, and critical thinking is mentioned in a number of ways. One of the easiest is making good decision from the information that we have.
“If we can think critically we can do a wonderful job in managing ourselves, becoming self-regulatory and also providing for our families and so on, and the last one is collaboration.”
Speaking of collaboration, the CXC Registrar said working together brings a set of skills that the others in the group may not have, and by combining those skills “you get something that is way better than any individual can prepare”.
Attendees were also encouraged to teach students to be critical thinkers since critical thinking is a major contributory factor to finding and implementing solutions for many of the region’s socio-economic issues.
Technical and Vocational Skills
Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine said that the establishment of technical and vocational skills training standards across the Caribbean Region will go a far way towards integration and development of the region’s workforce.
The Minister stated that the fact that CVQS are coming on the heels of the previous accreditation of National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), is part of the process of providing for the integration of technical and vocation education systems into a wider Caribbean TVET system.
The Minister said that TVET education, which is now need driven is a sure way to ensure high productivity of individual workers and the region as a whole.
The implication of this development has far reaching effects for CARICOM. The movement of skills will be easily facilitated and accomplished since all of the countries will be operating within one human resource development education system. It will also provide one trajectory for the engagement of the rest of the world with regard to the movement of skills beyond the region.
The Minister of Education also recognised the work of the regional educational institutions in the effort to standardise training and certification across the region.
“In this process the CXC has played a lead role with the complete harmonisation of secondary education. It also presents a challenge for the governments of the Caribbean to give effect to the establishment of the council for tertiary education thus completing the tripod on which a harmonised and integrated education system is being built.”
CXC and the Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies (CANTA) have blazed the trail in that regard and established the foundation which the council for tertiary education can build upon in harmonising the entire system thus leading to the creation of a regional education framework, and the movement away from the divisive and desperate individual frameworks.
“This is indeed what CARICOM is all about, as I understand it, and underlines the onerous responsibility which is placed on our human development system, the education system. It is ironic that all of this is occurring when CARICOM is actively addressing the question of a regional human resource policy. What is happening today can only be defined as timely,” Minister Roopnaraine observed.