By ROCHELLE DEAN
EDUCATION is the universal process of imparting knowledge, values, skills and attributes which can be beneficial to an individual and their surroundings. Learning is the process of adopting knowledge, values and skills.
If this concise definition pertain, then it is safe to say that The Bahamas has access to education but as a nation it is not learning.
Education is essential to the economic growth of The Bahamas. The country’s education system is considered a colonial legacy leftover that emphasises rate memorisation, learning random facts and preparing children to pass an exam - the means of sorting who gets to go on. The Bahamas must now look at and desire an educational system that fosters deeper learning, 21st century skills and critical thinking as we plan to compete in the global arena and progress toward development.
Education is a formal process, while learning is an informal one. These key factors have impacted the quality of our education system and, as a society, has weakened our nation. The Bahamas must get back to the real discussions and have a national dialogue about our education system and its reform.
The focus of our policy makers must be a quality education system which qualifies how each child learns and how it assists our children in finding new ways to excel.
Learning determines the future of culture of a class-based or non class-based society, of freedom or slavery, of economic opportunity or stagnation, of entrepreneurial success or spreading dependency of national progress or decline, of prosperity or poverty.
The quality of our learning, more than any factor, will shape the future of our nation.
Schools in The Bahamas have always been the centre of educational processes in our society; however, many of these schools and educational institutions have become businesses and modern, regulatory complexities have forced most schools to put business above learning. This is a disaster for education and the future of our society.
Learning needs to be measured. It is important to identify the learning levels in The Bahamas as well as in other countries regionally and in other developed countries. The Bahamas must form a learning metrics task force that works rigorously on new measures of learning which will determine the policies that impact the education system of its people.
When the focal point is learning, school is used for students who learn best in the schooling environment. Every student can learn: it’s up to our leaders in the public and private sectors to aid in finding the ideal learning environment.
Parents must again be seen as experts in their children’s learning style and encourage full participatory engagement by student, parents, teachers and leaders.
Schooling is the complete opposite of what learning represents. Schooling stamps out difference; it introduces unrealistic competitive measures and specialises in weeding out children along the way. The Bahamas can no longer continue with the same old approach if it continues with the generalisation that education is the key to development.
The Bahamas must desire an educational system that allows its citizens to be able to contribute and participate in the international market but can also boost its domestic market.
The focus of the education system should be on learning. If the emphasis is on schooling, students are forced to participate in school regardless of whether they are successful. This is the beginning of producing a chaotic society.
Teachers must be able to identify learning styles and foster placement according to how children learn or we will continue to be a failing nation due to a failing education system. The Bahamas can no longer revel in a few passes at the expense of the masses.
The Bahamas must recognise that while its education system was efficient for past times, the country must now look at new ingenuitive ways of educating itself. Education reform is imperative to economic growth. It’s essential to the country’s progress.
If we do not alleviate this form of poverty Bahamians will develop themselves another land, another region and another country. Poverty alleviation is about education reform.
Rochelle R Dean is a Bahamian scholar, research fellow and peer-reviewer and a theory writer of economics presently completing a Bachelors of Science dual degree in economics and public administration with Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia.