Revo­lu­tionise the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Devon Dick Rev Devon Dick is pas­tor of the Boule­vard Bap­tist Church in St Andrew. He is au­thor of ‘The Cross and the Ma­chete’, and ‘Rebellion to Riot’. Send feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

THE CXC AND CAPE ex­am­i­na­tions are built on a 19th-cen­tury Bri­tish model of hav­ing 30 per cent at the top of the food chain who are the best and bright­est and who are trained to take con­trol of the econ­omy and ev­ery­one else, while the other 70 per cent are trained to do me­nial and mun­dane tasks and to be obe­di­ent to the 30 per cent. Last month, Dr Nancy Ge­orge, CARICOM Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­tor Spe­cial­ist, speak­ing about the 2030 Strat­egy for ed­u­ca­tion at the Caribbean ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil Head­quar­ters (CXC) in Bar­ba­dos, made that anal­y­sis (The Bar­ba­dos Advocate Oc­to­ber 28, 2016). Af­ter so many years of the Caribbean peo­ple de­sign­ing the ex­am­i­na­tions, there is a hold­ing on to the ves­tiges of colo­nial­ism in the Caribbean.

Take, for ex­am­ple, in the 1970s, per­sons pur­su­ing O’Level history were taught that “The Som­er­set case re­sults in the pas­sage of a law which de­clares slav­ery il­le­gal in Eng­land”. Un­der CXC, the same teach­ing con­tin­ued and when a CXC marker was told that that in­for­ma­tion is in­cor­rect, he adamantly main­tained that he would not change. In fact, the Mans­field judgment on the 1772 Som­er­set case stated that en­slaved per­sons in Eng­land could not be forcibly re­moved from Eng­land, which sug­gests that the rul­ing re­in­forced slav­ery in Eng­land. In­deed, there were en­slaved per­sons in Eng­land in the 19th cen­tury.

LAND OF THE FREE

The point is not sim­ply about the facts. It is also about giv­ing the no­tion that Bri­tain was the land of the free in 1772, and that it was a com­pas­sion­ate Bri­tish peo­ple who gave us eman­ci­pa­tion with­out any in­put from the en­slaved. It is im­por­tant for all, not just the 30 per cent, to feel that we can make a dif­fer­ence in our own lives and in the af­fairs of the coun­try. We need to un­der­stand that God has given all gifts and abil­i­ties to help us im­prove our­selves.

Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Er­rol Miller in Ja­maican So­ci­ety and High School­ing, high school ed­u­ca­tion was for white, Jewish and brown chil­dren, to keep them ed­u­ca­tion­ally su­pe­rior to black chil­dren. They are the ones who could ap­pre­ci­ate it.

Sim­i­larly, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion has not changed the GSAT weight­ing of scores af­ter a decade of ag­i­ta­tion. Do you know that a grade 7 stu­dent of Cal­abar High School who got scores of 100 in math­e­mat­ics, so­cial stud­ies, sci­ence, men­tal abil­ity and got 11 out of 12 in com­mu­ni­ca­tion task did not get a schol­ar­ship, while per­sons with in­fe­rior per­for­mances got schol­ar­ships? This is due to the sub­jec­tive grad­ing of com­mu­ni­ca­tion task be­ing weighted so heav­ily that los­ing 1 point gives a child a score of 92% in that sub­ject area. In other words, you ei­ther get 92% or 100%. It is im­pos­si­ble for any­one to get 93% or 94% or 95 % or 96% or 97% or 98% or 99%. Only in a for­mer Bri­tish colony could this rigged sys­tem con­tinue for so long.

DIG­I­TAL AGE

Let’s em­power our CXC and CAPE stu­dents with knowl­edge. This is the dig­i­tal age and it de­mands a dif­fer­ent kind of stu­dent who is a crit­i­cal thinker who can find so­lu­tions to com­plex prob­lems through rea­son­ing. This will pro­duce cit­i­zens who, whether em­ployed or self-em­ployed, will be in­volved in de­ci­sion mak­ing and share in the fruits of their labour, knowl­edge and skill.

Church-based schools rev­o­lu­tionised the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in the 19th and 20th cen­turies with the es­tab­lish­ment of schools such as West­wood High School for girls in 1888 and in 1912, Cal­abar High School for boys. These schools and oth­ers, in ad­di­tion to al­low­ing for black girls and boys who ex­celled in the pub­lic ex­am­i­na­tions to en­ter high schools, fa­cil­i­tated so­cial in­te­gra­tion among dif­fer­ent classes.

Now let the church-based schools lead an­other revo­lu­tion in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, us­ing more tech­nol­ogy in teach­ing and mak­ing stu­dents more com­pe­tent in ap­ply­ing tech­nol­ogy to all sub­ject ar­eas.

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