Graduating from secondary school is normally an exhilarating time for our youth. However, for those who have not found employment, or acceptance in an institution of further learning, the end of the summer holiday can be the start of a long period of hopelessness for them and their parents.
The longer that school graduates remain idle, the greater their disillusionment when they compare their situation to that of their more fortunate friends, and the greater the risk that they will be tempted to obtain money by illegal methods. Selling stolen property, illegal drugs, and their bodies become viable income options.
As Solutions Barbados’ candidates interact with people in our communities, a common question is: “what is your plan for these youths?” Our plan is to remove the hopelessness that so many of them currently experience. Our youth will enjoy maturing in a Solutions Barbados administration.
Every young person will be able to realise their full potential by being trained to be independent, both while they are at school and after they have graduated. For this to be realised, the secondary school curriculum needs to be improved.
Our secondary school curriculum was designed to prepare students to enter the major professions. Our resulting professionals can successfully compete with professionals from any part of the world. However, since the majority of graduates do not pursue such professional careers, our school system fails most of our students.
The simple solution is to arrange the secondary school curriculum so that it benefits everyone. Everyone includes those planning on pursuing the major professions, business, artisan trades, arts, and those who entered secondary school with low common entrance scores and low aspirations.
The curriculum can be arranged so that the easier-to-learn and more exciting practical parts of subjects, that all students will likely find interesting, can be taught during the first three years. This is opposed to teaching the more difficult-to-learn theoretical aspects first, and the more practical aspects after students have become frustrated and have lost interest.
This will mean that students will learn conversational languages, where they learn to speak the language before conjugating verbs; music by ear, where they learn to play an instrument before music theory; applied sciences, where the usefulness of the subject is understood, before science theory, where the usefulness of the subject is less clear. With this practical knowledge, students will learn how to start and grow a profitable business.
The final two years will be spent preparing for the CXC examinations. However, with students already benefiting from the useful knowledge of the subjects, they are more likely to exercise the discipline necessary to learn the generally more difficult-to-learn theoretical aspects. They will learn the subject “Principles of Business” after they have a business to apply this learning to.
Every student will graduate with at least one marketable skill and feel useful. If our students cannot graduate with being able to survive with some measure of independence, then we have done them a disservice.
Our political leaders should be held responsible for an educational system that has failed so many of our students. Why? Because it was a political decision to: mandate that our children attend secondary school; determine how students were allocated to these schools; allow secondary schools to be managed by different boards of politically appointees; determine the teaching, materials, and maintenance resources that each school would receive; and determine the amount of discipline teachers could enforce.
In a Solutions Barbados administration, we will make the political decision to manage all schools to the highest international customer-focused management standard available, ISO 9001, for the benefit our students and their parents.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com