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Head of principals’ body says education system needs to evolve

By Jenique Belgrave

President of the Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools (BAPPSS) Stephen Jackman says this island’s education system must evolve from its current traditional academic-based format to one which enhances children’s individual abilities.

Pointing out that the current format has created several societal issues, he stressed that the new system must allow the “fish to swim and the monkey to climb and swim”.

“The first thing we have to do is take stock of where we are. Can we continue with a system that was designed to separate sheep from goats coming out of a vestry system that provided that one scholarship because there were no places in school for people of our colour? Can we continue with a system that has been based on that, or are we going to move to a more equitable system where everybody gets what they need from the school system?

“My personal preference is for something where we assess the abilities of students and we provide the type of schooling that allows the fish to swim and the monkey to climb and to swim. So, if a child is capable of academics, we need to have a stream for that child; if we have a child that is interested in technical, we need to have a stream for that; and if we have a child that, because of learning difficulties, needs a different approach, a special needs approach, a remedial approach, then we also have to have facility for that within our systems,” he said.

Jackman, who is also the President of the Caribbean Association of Principals of Secondary Schools, was speaking to Barbados TODAY on Monday on the sidelines of the opening of the association’s weeklong 29th Biennial Conference at the Accra Beach Hotel and Resort.

He agrees with the Government’s decision to abolish the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination, better known as the 11-Plus or Common Entrance Examination, saying that it had only forced the “odd achievers” to try to perform at the same level as the “high-fliers”.

“Any system that allows us to look at students and not brand or label them, I am all for,” he said.

Noting that several Caribbean territories have already established the middle school system proposed here, Jackman said Barbados should take lessons from those countries.

“I think we need to look at all of the systems everybody has come up with … and maybe we should look at what can work and what can’t work. I know Trinidad has gone through middle school experience. I know Jamaica has gone through it, and they’ve had different results because they have implemented it in different ways. So we, therefore, have the opportunity to look at both or to pick the best fit for our Barbados,” he said.

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