Caribbean Ministers of Education and other educational officials yesterday met to finalise a regional strategy for education and human resource development.
This strategy is to be presented at the next meeting of Caricom Heads of Government for deliberation and approval.
Secretary General of Caricom Ambassador Irwin LaRocque explained at an opening ceremony for the 32nd meeting of the Caricom Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), held yesterday at the Caricom Secretariat, that the strategy was developed as part of a mandate delivered to COHSOD after the 25th intercessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in March, 2014.
LaRocque explained that a special session of that meeting discussed issues relating to human resource development and recognised that socio-economic development of the region was inextricably linked to the development of human capital.
Having recognised the shortcomings in the regional education system, the heads started the process to transform it at every level.
Presenting the draft to those gathered, LaRocque explained that the strategy deals with such hot-button issues as male participation in education, the skills required for 21st century demands, the use of technology in the learning environment and moving the concept of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to a real, practical part of mainstream education.
Chairman of COHSOD St Clair Prince, who is St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Minister of Education, stressed that for Caricom to attain its position in the global ranks, there are many conditions that must be met and the region’s investment in human development is a most critical issue.
He explained that over the years Caricom has contributed to and benefitted from global developments in education.
Sharing statistical data released in the 2016 United Nations Human Develop-ment Report, Prince noted that the region featured well in several indicators including measures of education outcomes.
Eleven member states were within the high developmental rating, while ten were in the top 100. He advised that if the region recognises its potential, it should move forward by addressing issues that must be dealt with so as to transform its education system and societies.
Prince made sure to stress that even as the strategy is developed, it is essential that there is buy-in from the powers that be.
This point was also stressed by University of Guyana Chancellor Professor Nigel Harris, who praised the many cogent solutions within the strategy but warned, as a “veteran of strategic planning” that it is difficult to access buy-in, enthusiasm, financial backing and sustained interest of many countries especially in a region where interests change with governments.