Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Devon Dick | Revolutionise the educational system

Published:Thursday | November 24, 2016 | 11:00 AM

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.

- 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.