“You can’t build a long term business with short term strategies”

(Webinar on E-Commerce)

In the recent Budget Communication, government unveiled a new Apprenticeship Program, with a $22M price tag. The Opposition noted that it was pretty much the same as the program they had proposed, with a different name. What both entities seem to have agreed on is the need to provide job training for the multitude of school leavers who are un-prepared for entry to the workplace.

On the surface, this seems an appropriate response from a caring government. But on reflection, it is the most shocking admission of failure by both the present PLP and the former FNM governments. Both are admitting that the nation’s education system is not expected to produce individuals prepared for engagement with the real world. In fact, they have together perpetuated an agreement to fund four entities to do the same job: produce a citizen capable of functioning productively in the society. There are four line items in the Budget to produce the same functional individual: the Ministry of Education, BTVI, The National Training Institute and the new Apprenticeship Program.

The three clearly-remedial programs demonstrate two very serious biases. The first is the commonly-held belief that someone who chooses to fix cars is less intelligent than someone who chooses to become a lawyer. Not only is this not a reasonable assumption, the case may in fact be reversed. But as a result of that assumption, the Ministry of Education’s program facilitates the lawyer with his academic degrees, and treats the fixer of cars as a problem to be “fixed” in the shed out back. Painting the shed makes it no less a shed.

The need to re-assess the very core of the nation’s educational strategy has been urgent for decades, but is still buried under a conversation about “grade average”, a concept most teachers have agreed has no discernable use in the real world, where 50% of those reaching the end of their schooling are not qualified to graduate, and most, as noted above, are useless in the workplace.

The second issue is the ease with which we agree to postpone addressing our crippled education system by creating remedial programs, most of which become entrenched. Fifty years ago, schooling included technical and trade instruction. That  system, regarded by today’s “modern” educators as archaic, produced the fathers of our nation. Today’s system is creating unproductive (and therefore dependent) young people, many of whom have expressed their frustration in ways that frighten most of us.

Remedial programs can never be the building blocks for the development of a progressive nation.

June 18, 2016