Letters & Opinion

Our Education Is Simply Outmoded and Outdated

A smiling Denys Springer
By Denys Springer

In opening this debate, I believe our school system must cater for all our youngsters, even those not academically proficient, but may be technically gifted and given the necessary skills can make a tremendous effort to the development of the country. Many can become excellent and motivated in the field that caters for their mindset and therefore the school system must cater for all our children, even at preschool level.

In coming to the question above as to whether our education is outmoded and outdated, my studies and research led me to areas that did not fit in with the quality of education we are providing in year 2023, but one that still lingers in the colonial times or even predates that of slavery. In other words, it is like the dinosaur that never wanted to change so it perished.

What it clearly shows is that those who say they are educated and are at the pyramid of our education system don’t really understand education per se. Why, because they suffer from a dinosaurian virus because they still follow the old ways in terms of education. It is clear to see that whatever is attempted, in terms of modernizing our education to fit the global expectation, we still linger in the doldrums of time.

What seems to happen is to give an impression that we are changing and therefore what is brought forward is sugar coated so as to make believe. However, underneath we find the same form of education that is outmoded and outdated. Learning seems not to be prevalent to those who run our education system regardless of the political divide. In theory, our policy makers in education lack the quality and ability that is required to make the changes that is needed for our young to compete in a competitive world. Why? Because their preparation lacks the thoroughness and up to date vibrancy it needs.

The questions that I often ask are simple. Did our education become innovative and creative under Robert Lewis as the minister in the labour government, or was there an improvement under Gale Rigobert UWP government or even at present under the Minister for Education who have been there for nearly 18 months?

If I am to be honest, the only time I saw a semblance of change in our education system was under Mario Michel when we had the Technology school at Ciceron. But alas we gave that up and returned to the archaic, outmoded and outdated colonial form of education that has stifle our young men and women since our days of colonialism. With having independence for over 43 years we are still in a state of empathy and paralysis. We are still unable to come out of that deep sleep in reforming our education system.

It simple breaks my heart to be writing in that vein because when I look deeply, I realize that not one of these people have written books for our education system, even with their so called PHD which I have since termed Permanent Head Damage, pardon the pun, and that is why I personally never wanted it and used those years of academic life getting qualified in other subject areas so I had and all round education that many cannot cope with. That is when I realized that my father was so right when he often told his children “that the mind is the standard of the man”.

In my view these so call leaders are simply plodders. They are not movers and shakers of education because their simple minds cannot absorb the changes that are taking place in the field of education where our children should now be allowed to be innovative and creative. The system continually stems that flow of creativeness in our young.

When they should be using the commonsense approach, the Almighty gave them they instead are coheres into rote learning and the only motivated outcome is to pass and get high marks if not you are a failure. This is simply sad because our children are held back because those at the top are still living in the doldrums of time.

These people are not leaders, nor are they movers and shakers. They simply think that education is about cramming to pass exams and when they are asked to put that knowledge into action, they are a pitiful sight. They are then seen as square pegs in round holes, which is why much of our management system in the public service seems decadent and simply at a standstill.

Many are in possession of a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree yet are unable to put what they have learnt into practice. What a waste of manpower. Therefore instead of the change that the education system needs, we see a group of people still in the back waters with a piece of paper which they crammed to get. That in itself is not learning.

It is even more pitiful when they go into the big wide world to conferences and are unable to bring back anything worthwhile because they did not go to learn and to share. They used it as a holiday and to get their allowances. They are simply unconcerned about putting what they learned into practice because it is beyond their ability to do so.

Education is not only about having degrees or masters or the many years spent as a teacher as some are eager to tell us. If one thinks so then they are living in a fool’s paradise and are therefore simply cheating the system. I therefore ask quite categorically what type of teaching these individuals have done? Further to that what impact have these individuals made on the curriculum or the children they have taught? It seems as though they instill into their students to be simply book worms?

Yes I have heard their childlike voices echoing down through the tunnel of time. Yes I have to say somewhat bitterly and stubbornly that our education is still lingering in the throes of time.

What is seen clearly is a lack of inspiration and a distorted attitude by those who should be driving our educational system to a new and different level. How many of those individuals have written a book in the modern sense in terms of educating our youth. Well, I say to them to read “Nature Watch an Environmental Toolkit for Caribbean Schools” or the “Bird Book of Saint Lucia”. After reading these books they may have an idea about bringing our education system forward and also contributing academically to our children’s future.

We have one of the most deprived systems of education because there is a river of blindness by present and past leaders in our education system. The Sir Arthur Lewis Community College is no different. This tertiary level of education needs a complete facelift.

If we are to continue to be tinkering with our education system instead of making the radical change necessary and being bold in making that drastic change it needs, then our lack luster decision making will forever relegate our children to that melancholy subclass, almost the stateless people of questionable allegiances.

Our education system is simply destroying the individuality of our children and therefore their creativity and innovative desires. They are simply crushed under the hands of colonialism. I personally don’t want our education to become the T.Rex of civilization that once towered above the earth in the form of the Dinosaur.

We need to change the face of our education, if not we will become the dinosaur that would not change and therefore perished. We need education to fit the modern pathways based on worldwide pathways. The youth of today need that inspiration in our education system that will propel them forward into the modern-day world.

I do hope and pray that we can find a way to transform the despair that people feel into hope and expectation of a better life for our young ones. However, I do have faith in the triumph of reason because there are those of us who really care to pass on knowledge and also to share it.

Therefore, I still believe it to be possible to plan an education service which offers equality of opportunity which would help substantially in reducing the level of mendicancy in our country. Educators must always bear in mind that children are not born equal and therefore their abilities vary, but the distribution of life changes among our child population and sometimes it varies massively. Teachers must recognize that very quickly in their class. Therefore it is imperative in the variation in what the education system offers more so to young people beyond the age of 16.

The freedom of every child to learn, develop, grow and make choices about their life is inseparable from access to schooling. The educational process I am discussing requires the teacher and student to develop a means for communication. When I say that as a nation we lack a clear consensus as to the meaning of education, that we in effect lack an idea of education, what I am really saying is that we have too many ideas all of which we attempt to pursue simultaneously frequently in the same institution without differential or clarification.

What is seen in Saint Lucia is that there is confusion over the purpose of education and a lack of a clear consensus as to the very meaning of the word. What is lacking in my view is both the failure and lack of intellectual curiosity which stems from the failure to teach students how to study, how to think, how to learn, how in short to become actively involved in their education.

What I am now convinced of, over the years in reviewing our educational system is that it is more concerned, or has an obsession with grades and to the immense importance placed on grade point averages.

In all what is written above I believe sincerely that the freedom of every child to develop their ability to the full depends on the existence of a planned comprehensive system, otherwise the child’s development will be primarily determined by social background, reinforced by the selective pattern of schooling.

As it stands, this world is not perfect, and teachers must understand that in dealing with their students. Students are not perfect as there are individual differences between them and therefore in preparing class, one has to take into consideration the average student and also the above average and those below the average.

This view of our education is not to throw stones at the education of our young but instead trying to be constructive, critical, but one delivered with sincerity and in the spirit of doing things better, which is not a bad thing. Some in authority may not see it that way, mainly because they’re not very good at being a leader.

I therefore say to the government and those in the education hierarchy that it is time to shake off the shackles of colonialism and to bring our young into the new dawn of knowledge which caters for new technology, engineering and agricultural science to feed ourselves.

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