AN educator has called on new Minister of Education, Technical and Vocational Training Glenys Hanna-Martin and Minister of State Zane Lightbourne, to develop a “research culture” in the country.
Dr Patrice Juliet Pinder, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educator and researcher said that research papers should be created by Bahamians and should focus on key areas to assist with the national development of the country.
She says students at the University of The Bahamas, the Bahamas Agriculture & Marine Science Institute and other institutions of learning in the country should be actively participating in national development by assisting scientific studies and documenting of data that could revolutionise the way we live.
A culture of constant research, she says, would transform education in The Bahamas, and subsequently other aspects of life.
She said: “As an educator and research scientist, I am deeply concerned about the serious state of education in The Bahamas, and I have been concerned for quite some time.”
She highlighted “the yearly dismal performance” of students on the standardised BJC and BGCSE examinations. She advises reforming the curriculum, which she says is hampered by the overall lack of a culture of research; especially at the K–12 and university levels.
“We have all learned from the COVID-19 health crisis that ‘empirical data’ is critically important to help us to make better-informed decisions. Well, empirical data can help us to make better-informed decisions in many areas in our society including education.
“For example, simple classroom-based (action) research, which seems to be non-existent here in The Bahamas, can be conducted by teachers and instructors at all levels of the Bahamian education system, and data obtained from this type of simple research can play an important role in helping to better inform effective teaching strategies and methodologies, which can ultimately lead to an improvement in students’ test scores.”
Dr Pinder said she hoped the new ministerial team would be “open to advice and suggestions from those of us who are world-class experts within the field of education”.
She added: “In the 21st century, research is critical to any university being seen and ranked among the elite universities in the world. Most universities seek out faculty members with research agendas and publishing records that can advance them. Where are we on this? I am happy that I found research success, but I had to do it under an Asian University and not with my Bahamian university... These areas of concern are all ‘food for thought’ being offered to the new ministers.”
Dr Pinder has been listed on the first-ever AD Scientific Index of World Scientists and Universities, one of 51 research scientists from the Ton Duc Thang University (Asia) to be named to the list.
She added: “If I can help to advance the top world ranked Ton Duc Thang University, the country of Vietnam, and the continent of Asia, I am sure I can help to advance my Bahamas. Thus, my final advice to the new leadership would be to have faith and belief in the competencies of qualified Bahamian experts regardless of gender or race. In my opinion, there should not continuously be a need for foreign consultants when you have your own Bahamian experts that are continuously denied opportunities to prove themselves in their own country, but are advancing other countries and continents around the world. It is time we truly operated as one unified country and people who are desirous of advancing each other.”