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Insight: Education Is Critical Otherwise We're On The Road To Nowhere

By MALCOLM STRACHAN

At a time when the country is filled with challenges, the Bahamian people, while not having a shortage of problems, can’t say the same for solutions.

Countries all over the world are experiencing problems. From the climate crisis to world hunger and poverty and everything in between, organisations around the world, particularly in the field of technology, are seeking the wisdom of those able to provide solutions. As we all know, every solution starts with a question or series of questions – all powered by the ability to think critically. Our limitation in this thinking, as a nation, has been our Achilles heel.

With so many annoyances within Bahamian society, many of us wonder why processes that don’t have be difficult are the way they are. We question why individuals in front-facing positions at service providers seemingly have a talent for making simple processes more difficult than they have to be.

The ease of doing business is not easy at all. Utilities don’t work well. Citizens don’t feel safe. Illegal immigration continues to be a problem. The middle class is evaporating right before our eyes and home ownership for many people is fleeting.

The list goes on.

Our grievance over a lack of critical thinking is nowhere more glaring than in politics. For decades, Bahamians have pinballed back and forth between the Progressive Liberal Party and the Free National Movement.

Stagnated by cultish party loyalties and uninformed voters, political parties have a very low bar to win an election – only having to worry about being better than the next guy.

Thus, our political climate is one where politicians come around every five years claiming to have all the solutions – or at least more than those they oppose – but when they are given the opportunity, our complaints just shift from one group to the next.

It’s a tragic reality for any country. However, what must be assessed is how we evolve as a nation going forward.

The correlation between democracy and education has been studied extensively by researchers and it has been determined that individuals with lower education are different political actors than those with higher levels of education. Additionally, one’s economic status can be a predictor of one’s education level.

Accordingly, it should be a priority to place a higher value on education – not just by increasing graduation rates, but also affecting the type of thinkers being produced in our classrooms.

While we take into account that introducing another school of thought to people who have attached their national identity to their political party may lead to resistance, we can’t dismiss the benefits of a more active and engaged democratic process. Additionally, looking long-term at the potential advantages for first-time voters and the younger generations, they can also benefit greatly by being introduced to a different form of learning.

All told, we should be mindful that a society that thinks critically benefits far beyond politics. As this hopefully becomes a matter for public discourse, we would not want the policy makers to narrowly focus solely on the political implications.

Countries that have pursued education reform by making inquiry-based learning the cornerstone of their curriculums have raved about the benefits it has had on their students. Inquiry-based learning is defined as “a learning and teaching method that prioritises student questions, ideas and analyses” to encourage students to use evidence-supported reasoning to solve a problem.

The Bahamas is at a pivotal point in its history with frustrated citizens leading to massive migration outflows and an increase in the nation’s brain drain. As this becomes more common, we have to really start asking ourselves how this nation is going to further its development without the human capital necessary to lead the charge.

As our political leaders thrive in an environment where citizens largely accept or refute policies based on their support of a particular political party, neither the directorate nor the electorate, for the most part, are focused on the future of the country.

Needless to say, this model only leads to failure.

Our citizens have to be trained to place the right people in leadership to govern. This will only come about by looking at the problems of the day and discerning who is most capable of solving them. Moreover, a government presiding over a people informed on the country’s problems increases accountability in government, and thus, raises the standard of governance.

With no shortage of complaints among the populace, don’t you think it’s time we educated ourselves and our children on how to solve problems?

Countries that have emphasised the importance of critical thinking in their children from an early age have proven to perform well in solving their problems. And as we continue to flail in a flood of our societal ills, ranging from crime to pollution, high cost of living to high unemployment, climate change to illegal immigration – and the list goes on – the revolving door of archaic political ideologies and empty promises will guarantee we are on a collision course for failure.

The choice is clear.

Comments

TheMadHatter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Some very good points. I could write (without any effort) a 1000 word essay complementing what you have written.

While politicians have many tools at their fingertips (which they refuse to use) - such as changing the grades back to the standard A B C D F choices (only) so that the "average" (in the middle) is a "C" instead of the current idiotic "D" - they can also pump more money into the system. Our system is gasping for air and teachers have to buy most of the things that they really can't do without out of their own pockets. The admins know what the VERY critical things are and deliberately do not buy them - knowing that the teachers will forced to. As for things that are "non-critical" (if there is such a thing) - well, teachers just never get them. They live in their dreams (and the dreams of some students and parents).

So instead of borrowing $100 million every 2 months (like they seem to do) for all sorts of insane (bloated) things - why not borrow a hundred million and pump it into the system. Divide it equally among the schools and give each principal carte blanche on how to spend it - without having to beg the Island Administrator or some other paper pusher for permission to fix their schools?

On the other hand, a lot of fault lies with so many parents who simply wish to use the school system as a free baby-sitting service. This could be demonstrated EASILY (again) by the government (Minnis?) coming out and saying he is going to add a 2 cent per gallon tax which will go into the aforementioned Principal's Fund.

You would hear not end of protest from so many "loving and caring" parents in this country.

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joeblow 1 month, 3 weeks ago

If an individual does not place a value on education (or any other good thing) they cannot receive the benefits no matter what innovations are used to educate. Many people no longer value education, hard work, moral discipline or having a decent character. If they did our society would be vastly different from what it is now. People place more value on weaves, tattoos and having a baby by age 22.

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OMG 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Sorry Madhatter, but so many Principals have trouble with simple economics let alone free rein on spending. One Principal who accumulated , over $10,000 worth of debt in unpaid school bills was moved only to be put in charge of his new school's finances. Other Principals deny certain subject areas any funds yet spend freely on themselves on so called official trips into Nassau or bloated gifts for visiting talkers. Then what about the desk jockeys in Nassau who have no idea what subject teachers need (especially practical subjects) and order what they think is needed often in quantities that are miniscule and of inferior quality without ever looking at the pointless excercise wherby teachers submit annual requisitions.

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BONEFISH 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The entire education system in this country needs to be revamped.However Bahamians by in large don't value education.In this tourism based economy, you don't have to be highly educated or skilled to make a big living. This coupled with the rampant cronyism, nepotism,favouritism and victimization in the job market is driving the migration of educated bahamians. Like some one said on a local talk show recently, every body in his circle wants to leave the Bahamas. Some one also wrote this on social media ,the Bahamas may become a place where people visit and Bahamians don't want to live.

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sheeprunner12 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Pindling undertook to dumb down ALL Bahamians once he and his generation had gotten their education from the ONE elite public high school ……. crying shame on the PLP and the FNM who created these poorly constructed, sourced, and staffed "baby-sitting" centres that pass for (most) public high schools today

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