E-readers a great idea for Bajan schools, but money isn’t the only problem

Barbados School Textbooks

Dear BFP,

There is a move afoot to equip all secondary school students with E-readers. This is a great idea because this technology actually cuts costs over the long run when compared with physical textbooks and provides the latest learning materials.

That’s the upside. The downside is that E-Readers are more fragile than textbooks, and are more likely to be stolen. We’re not even talking about the problems with procuring and supporting the technology.

I can’t think of one educational procurement programme that has actually turned out well with the current administration and I don’t see why we should have faith that this one will be any better. I hope we have some rules in place before we spend millions on these devices with no controls about bidding and conflicts of interest etc.

(name withheld upon request)

E-readers for all

A move is now on to provide all 23,000-plus secondary school children in Barbados with e-readers.

The initiative, which is being led by the heads of the island’s 22 secondary schools, is designed to eliminate the headaches of issuing each child with nearly two dozen textbooks annually, and eliminate the tens of thousands each institution spends of book replenishment each year.

One of the education administrators who expressed delight at the progress made on the project so far noted they were aiming to have the e-readers in students hands not later than September 2014, “but sooner than that if all goes according to plan.”

One principal explained that while the evolving of the Textbook Revolving Loan Scheme into an e-reader based programme started with principals who clearly understood the benefits such a shift would bring, they all recognised that before it becomes a reality the Ministry of Education would have to be brought on board as a major player.

In the meanwhile though, the principals explained that given the continued dramatic fall in the prices of e-readers versus the escalating cost of traditional textbook, the change would significantly enhance the mechanism for supplying students with reading material…

…continue reading this article at Barbados Today


Filed under Barbados, Education, Technology

36 responses to “E-readers a great idea for Bajan schools, but money isn’t the only problem

  1. A policy holder

    MADNESS, Today’s kids have a long way to go before they understand and appreciate the cost of things . Books can be recycled. Reused. If damaged a parent may be asked to replace a book for a few dollars. They are not easily able to replace an eReader for a few hundred and with the island’s FINANCIAL position this must be the lowest level priority.

  2. Willy Coyote

    Ridiculous idea.

    E-Readers are only a passing fad, I bet(guarantee) in 5 years technology will have moved on to something else and there will be no fall back to the good old fashion printed word on paper. Technology is great, however it quickly evolves and is costly to implement, maintain and keep updated.

    Waste of tax payers money

  3. Bajan Abroad

    Great in theory, not practical given bajan “it ain mines brek it up” mentality, and the mismanagement of government. I though the government was broke!?

  4. 206

    Not a good idea at all. What about those children who have mental problems primarily that will in no time destroy the E-readers? What about those who will steal them? What about those who will smash them? Has anyone seen how they treat the books? There may be a hidden agenda here. Please, do not hoodwink us. We know that someone stands to benefit financially from introducing these readers into the system.

    What about the stop lights outside the schools? Have they ever been used? I am sure that someone got paid for them and another benefited financially. Do not try to fool us anymore. We are on to you!

  5. A policy holder

    206.. It’s old, but now more prevalent than ever, the WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME syndrome

  6. rider

    and we continue our rapid ride into the abyss. who is the fool that came up with this brilliant idea? or maybe not a fool because they and their friends are probably guaranteed some huge financial gain funded by taxpayers.

  7. Great idea for our children. Of course there will be teething problems, but if they all have one, they won’t need to steal them (but some will sell to adults!). The cost when buying in bulk won’t be too much compared to the cost of books. Kids still need to know and read books, but text books are a great idea for all of our children.

  8. You guys above, said it all for me. It is a stupid ridiculousness idea in every way. There is nothing good, in fact, that could be said about it. Only morons would come up with something like that.

  9. Cyprian La Touche'

    Finally!! We are moving forward into the 21st century.To those narrow minded idiots who do not understand just how far behind our education system is when compared to those of the developed countries, our children will never be able to compete in the worldwide workplace and international market places of the future.

    My only concern, is the limited ability of E-readers to fully utilise the opportunities of the internet. Education on the web has long since passed just reading text, and a more complex device,like a tablet(ipad)is vital to take advantage of the full benefits of the internet experience. There are ways via software programs to track usage ,ownership and therefore theft of all such devices. Issues of misuse and misappropriation will quickly become NON issues. The important thing is to start somewhere and be anywhere other than where we are now.

  10. marsdalebear

    On the face of it a great idea, but think on a little further. Buying the E readers is just the initial cost. You now have to download the textbooks. Do you imagine in your wildest dreams that the publishers are going to give up their huge profits from textbooks? Not a hope! The inflated prices will migrate to the ebook versions if and when they become available.
    In the UK ebooks attract VAT,printed books do not,not sure if that is the case down there.
    The amount of textbook material in ebook format is very limited, just check out Amazon.
    As a bookseller selling to schools I know something about this.

  11. Carl Moore

    Why are some folks so quick to dismiss as “narrow-minded idiot” anyone who disagrees and cautions restraint in this techno-utopia of endless “progress”?
    Before we rush in and order 6,000 e-readers (and a few thousand more replacements) and send all the textbooks to the landfill in St. Thomas, let us pause for a moment and do some thinking.
    Is that moment too long, Mr. LaTouche? Or would you like us to think in nano-seconds, like your iPad?
    You advise: “The important thing is to start somewhere and be anywhere other than where we are now.” Really?
    Your father and grandfather—whom I knew—would offer wiser advice. But then, they belonged to the Stone Age.
    By the way, whatever happened to Edutech?

    Carl Moore

  12. Cyprian La Touche'

    @carl moore
    Sir,I hope you would realise that from CAREFUL reading of my contribution,you would recognise that I TOO have cautioned AGAINST purchasing E-readers ,and established that ipads are by far, more useful,versatile and necessary to exploit the benefits of internet education.

    Furthermore,it is now astonishingly clear how “in the box” your and the others way of thinking still is. We are now at the dawn of the age,where you can learn virtually ANYTHING at anytime for free! Emphasis on free.

    The idea of copyright is more or less now irrelevant, when it comes to teaching the basics of all subject matter.No textbook can do what a website like Khan Academy can. It is about getting the information into the student’s mind in a way that is natural and enjoyable for them.

    The unconquerable advantage of the internet is that it is a rich, complex and interactive medium. E-readers and textbooks are limited and therefore limiting.
    To better grasp where education has ALREADY gone,just watch the 60 Minutes interiview on Khan Academy and the future of education,and recognise that MILLIONS of children are being taught and learn all online and for free. And we are talking introducing “E-readers a YEAR from NOW!”
    How much further disadvantaged do you want our children to be?.

    School districts in the U.S.A with far more access to traditional books and resources than we could ever dream of,have enthusiatically embraced the technolgy,as it allows them to generate tons of useful data in education,increase the effectiveness of education, and all the the while significantly reduce the costs of education.

    As for Daddy and Grand Daddy,the very reason for their success was that although they lived in the Stone Age their way of thinking was of the Iron Age.
    The age of the Gutenberg press is behind us ,and we are now in an age of……something else.

    Cyprian N. La Touche’

  13. Carl Moore

    Mr. LaTouche, I am more wary of what embraces me than what I embrace. Next thing you’ll be suggesting that I embrace—you really mean buy—will be a pair of Eric Schmidt’s Google Glasses, so that I can take pictures by merely winking!

    All this septuagenarian asks is to take your time. The world has been here millions of years before we arrived and will be here millions of years after we join the dinosaurs. And please, don’t believe that knowledge and information are the same.

  14. Cyprian La Touché

    @carl Moore
    Mr. Moore, if you choose to buy a pair of glasses to ( ‘;)) and take photos that is your choice. You can afford them, you want to use them in your lifetime why should I even think about denying you that experience? THIS IS THE WAY OF THE WORLD! IT MOVES ON. The problem that many in many professions have made (photography included) is the failure to recognize that change is the only constant. You HAVE to be prepared and ready to EMBRACE it in order to thrive and survive. Typewriter manufacturers refused to acknowledge the rise of the PC and word processing. By the time they tried to adapt it was already too late. Microsoft and Google are now trying to play catch up with their surface tablet and android devices to the market monsters that are the Apple ipad and iPhone. Photographers must now offer and bring SOMETHING ELSE to the table as now everybody at the wedding has a phone that can preserve memories. Kodak as the premier film company is now literally dead and irrelevant because they chose to view the rise of digital as nothing more than a passing fad.
    And this is the problem in Barbados. We REFUSE to accept that the world as we have known and experienced it in the latter part of the last century has well and truly CHANGED! THERE IS NO GOING BACK! The promise of things going back to normal once our major markets have ‘come out of recession’ is A LIE AND A FOOLS DREAM! We have lived for decades on borrowed assets and borrowed time. We now have to pay for that and NOBODY is going to come to our rescue. They all have their own problems to solve. To continue in the belief that Trinidad has an obligation to let bajan fishermen fish unfettered in their waters because ‘we are all black people and they don’t eat flying fish’ is simply put STUPID. We have to be prepared to PAY our way in this world, and the only way to do so is to give our children as much of a true head start on the competition as we can through EDUCATION. We ALL need to wake up, smell the coffee and MOVE ON.
    Cyprian La Touché

  15. Carl Moore

    Mr. LaTouche, I wonder if you could help me with what I call the “wiper paradigm”—my clumsy phrase.

    It refers to the simple technology behind the wiper blades on your car’s windscreen.

    They’ve been there for almost 100 years. They can be found on every car, truck, boat, train, aeroplane, spacecraft. No new technology has so far come along to supercede the vital function they perform—which is simply to wipe away water, snow and other obstacles off your windscreen; otherwise you would have to get out an do the job manually.

    Nothing better has replaced this technology since early in the last century. And it isn’t for the lack of CHANGE; blowers, vacuums and other approaches have all been tried, but the good old wipers, like ole man river, keep rolling along.

    I hear you often on talk radio where you come across as Mr. Know-it-all, with the answer to all of Barbados’s problems. Please be careful with that approach. Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the 21st century—if I can be allowed to borrow an observation from that Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

    I commend and admire you, though, for being one of the few bloggers with enough testicles to sign your name to the views you express. ou must continue.

    I’ll retire here and let others join the discussion. Take care, Sir.

  16. millertheanunnaki

    @Cyprian La Touche’ May 4, 2013 at 9:00 pm
    I am 100% behind you in pushing the ICT revolution in the educational and training arenas.
    I agree that the full ‘tablet’ platform model is the way forward for our young people if we are even to play catch-up at this stage. Most tablets now have e-reader technology built in.
    Don’t allow the anti-ICT luddites deter you from your mission. Just see them as the genetic descendants of those who tried to silence Charles Darwin when he proposed the theory of evolution. What Carl Moore postulated as the world being hundreds of millions of years old would have been considered heretical in Darwin’s time.

    Young Cyprian, you can rest assured that your proposal to ‘reform’ the educational system as far as the delivery of teaching is concerned is as inevitable as Britain herself has left the Victorian age in which Barbados is still mired in many aspects of its socio-economic pupation.
    Barbados needs to adapt or die in our technological race. The same way this country earned a reputation for achieving some of the best ‘Victorian-style’ educational outcomes why not give our young people a necessary leg up the ICT totem pole.
    In the past, our education was effectively used to give our people a distinct advantage in their migratory quest to ‘sell’ their skills and services in overseas markets. We only have to look at the many ‘white-collar’ professionals and academics with solid Barbadian educational backgrounds and who-in the past- “made it” in the region and other metropolitan centres. Barbados needs to export its people and skills if it is to survive as an accomplished nation state.
    We must not allow these Neanderthal thinkers to stall or retard the revolution.
    Please don’t let our young people down by allowing a dinosaurian mindset wired in a period reflecting Darwin’s principle of natural selection to prevail.
    Do we want to witness the elimination of our current species of educational system as irrelevant to modern-day survival without equipping our genetic offspring with the necessary social DNA to survive in a brave new technologically sophisticated world?
    ICT is inexorably in the path of our socio-economic survival. Let us grab it with our entrepreneurial tentacles. Please don’t see Bim as the centre of the Universe and Bajans the chosen few of some alien god who created them and the world in 6 days.
    At least there are still a few forward thinkers among us. Welcome to the world of aliens, young Cyprian!

  17. Anonymous

    @carl moore
    Mr Moore
    Where should I begin? You want to talk wipers? Let’s talk wipers. So what if they have been around for 100 years? It DOES NOT mean that something better will not or can not be invented TOMMOROW to replace them. Just because nothing has so far does not suddenly elevate the value of the technology to being one of the irrefutable and fundamental laws of nature.
    Furthermore the IMPRESSION you have tried to ‘impress’ upon the reader of the unchanged application is MISLEADING.
    The problem to be considered was (and still is) how to maximize driver visibility in ALL AND ADVERSE WEATHER situations. The wiper blade is just ONE PART of the solution. Significant improvements ALL AROUND and indeed TO it have allowed IT to do a FAR BETTER JOB. Improvements in windshield and glass design. Improvements in the understanding of aerodynamics and the way water droplets resolve themselves on impact with surfaces. Then there is the story of Bob Kearns who had to sue the ‘Big Three’ for REFUSING then USING his solution for the intermittent wiper that was BETTER for use in light rain and misty conditions.
    The challenge is to BE PREPARED FOR, SEE AND RECOGNIZE AND EMBRACE the IMPROVED CHANGE. It is a LAZY MIND that refuses to question, question and question some more until the answer is found. It is the CAGED MIND that talks about the need to be a free thinker, but when faced with the opportunity retreats to the safety of the familiar. It is the BROKEN MIND that is afraid to challenge the status quo and take for granted the rules that have been around for ‘100 years.’
    To the People who want to dismiss me as a know it all because I am EDUCATED AND HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT SOMETHING, that is THEIR PROBLEM. I really DO NOT CARE.
    MY GOD PUT the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden FOR A REASON. He gave me a MIND TO USE and put me in a country that gives me the RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS to do so, and on the scarred backs of my forefathers and our ancestors I plan to do nothing less.
    Cyprian La Touché

  18. Cyprian La Touché

    @carl Moore
    Please Mr. Moore, do not in any way take it that I believe in anyway whatsoever that I am ALWAYS right and that it is way beyond anyone’s ability to PROVE ME WRONG. I simply ask that YOU DO IT!
    People always like to introduce ad hominid attacks whenever they find themselves being forced to question the very foundations, principles and conclusions they have held so dear for so long. Again, that is their problem as well as THEIR RIGHT to do so. I CHOOSE to be otherwise.

    With NO disrespect intended, I was also disappointed with your ‘characterization’ of me as “a know it all.” This observation on the HANDFUL of ten or fifteen minute conversations that I have had with ‘hostile’ – And I just mean aggressively opposing – moderators over the FEW years that I have contributed to Brass Tacks.
    All this from a man who has written THOUSANDS of articles with HUNDREDS of opinions over DECADES of effort? And YOU want to call ME a ” Know It All?” Pots and kettles I say! pots and kettles. Or is it because you are a septuagenarian and I a mere quinquagenarian that I have not yet EARMED the right to speak?

    Again I say, we have this problem of HERO worship in Barbados. Until someone IMPORTANT says it, nobody wants to hear it. Who am I to dare challenge this, look from another perspective and say something different?

    Mr. Moore, I too have made, still make and will continue to make (if God spare life) MANY mistakes. I face my mortality twice a week at the QEH partially because of those mistakes and faulty genes. I am NO BETTER OR BRIGHTER than anyone else. But you know what? That’s what life is all about. This country too is still alive through God’s grace and we all need to accept the past, open our eyes in this present and LOOK towards the better future.
    Cyprian La Touché

  19. marsdalebear

    @Cyprian La Touché
    Stop with the upper case, no need to shout.

    If you think that some online ” Khan Academy” will replace textbooks you are living in a fools paradise.
    Exam curriculums are set and textbooks are tailored to support them.Publishers all over the world make a lot of money from these textbooks even after the discounts on offer to schools and they will not give them up easily.They will charge the same price per download as the printed version.
    A knowledge base such as Khan. can supplement these textbooks but cannot replace them
    Why is it that countries with more money to invest in education than Barbados are not rushing into e readers? Is it that they maybe have a more savvy set of educators and politicians?
    This whole thing smacks of the usual Barbados “Good News” press release we get to divert attention away from the difficult issues that should be tackled, such as the dire condition of the major industry of Barbados.
    E readers and web based learning are without doubt the things of the future, but now is not the time, they are white elephants right now.

  20. Cyprian La Touché

    I shout, when I feel the need to shout at who I feel the need to shout. If it offends your eyes please accept my deepest apologies. Would you like me to promise that it won’t happen again? Oh, why can’t we all hold hands and sing cumbaya and just get along? Why can’t we all just agree to disagree all the time and LET THINGS STAY AS THEY ARE?
    No. I can not or will not even try to do that.
    The way I choose to write is the way I choose to speak, with emphasis on the words and phrases that I consider truly important for the reader to see, pause and ponder on. Meaning hopefully found within meaning. But maybe as I write longer I’ll acquire the skills to write shorter, let’s see what happens but at the risk of offending some, I prefer and plan always to stay true to my feelings, my passions and my instincts and therefore not offend myself.
    Still, thanks for the advice.
    Now to the subject at hand.
    What rubbish are you saying? The one thing I like about blogging is that readers cannot hide behind the excuse and accusation of not hearing the author correctly or them not speaking properly. Did you CAREFULLY read what I wrote?
    The BASICS are ALREADY available on the web for free. Wether or not you want to enforce copy-write on your book I simply do not have to use it. There are thousands of even and ever better alternatives and that number is growing exponentially by the second.
    The traditional book format will definitely not suddenly up and vanish. Why should it? People still ride horses but not because they HAVE to but because they WANT to. There is now basically NO NEED to teach basic subjects using traditional text books.
    Have you even bothered to do some research on the Khan Academy? Have you watched the 60 minutes documentary as I suggested? Do you understand that school districts in the U.S. are already successfully using the system along with many others?
    Visionary companies like Google are pushing it. Serious people like Gates are financing it. Teachers love it. Students love it. MILLIONS are using it but for us it is ” Too Soon” ?
    Bigger countries have bigger problems and like bigger ships they cannot turn on a dime. We are NOT a bigger country. Our issues have far less to do with resources and money and far more to do with attitude and indecisiveness.
    But definitely, let’s all wait until everybody else is doing it and it is ‘safe’. Why should we even try and live up to the idea of being ” firm craftsmen of our fate” .
    I don’t have a problem with you expressing your opinion. But PLEASE come to the table with rational reason and at least some evidence to back that
    Cyprian La Touché

  21. Cyprian La Touché

    And please. Remember that e readers are not iPads. I want I pads for the reasons I have already discussed before.
    Cyprian La Touché

  22. A policy holder

    Lots of talk! IPads, eReaders, call em what you want but they all cost money, a lot of money. In the hands of many children who have not yet learned to respect a book, they will be abused and destroyed. I think books have considerable longevity! If there are computer labs in schools with ample opportunity for children to use them that is now more than adequate.

    With just about every appliance, car, boat, plane, toy, having some built in electronics what the world needs is more programmers! I was impressed to see that SAP software had invited students from our top schools to visit their pavilion at the Barbados Yacht Club and see computers and very advanced software managing boat races with upwards of 100 boats in each race. Each with its own GPS and on shore spectators watching on computers followed the race when the yachts were physically out of sight most of the time. A huge screen made up of 9 TV Screens made up a complete wall which showed the race in detail and often shots of Carlise Bay and some of the West Coast. It was incredible and I am sure the kids left with a whole different concept of what software can do AND THE BRILLIANT MINDS OF THE SOFTWARE ENGINEERS WHO DEVELOPED IT.

  23. Cyprian La Touché

    @ a policy holder
    And you really think that the children of those engineers don’t already have iPads?
    ….. Please, let me know when you wake up.
    Cyprian La Touché

  24. Cyprian La Touché

    Ok. I responded to the others a certain way so it would only be rude of me not to give you the same courtesy.
    Since I know nothing about you I can only proceed on the basis of what you have revealed above.
    The first question I would ask is this. Do you know anything at all about technology? Do you think that the world’s BEST programmers only learnt their trade and acquired their incredible skills in a high school classroom opened Monday to Friday?
    You are so easily impressed with technology that if (as you have described) it is in such widespread use has to be years old. Haven’t you ever watched international coverage of yacht races on TV before? Is this the first time you have seen a wall of screens linked and controlled by a computer?
    I don’t mean to sound insulting, but just because you saw this at the Yacht Club the other day only means that some international standards are now becoming de regor if we want to broadcast to the world.
    I have asked the others before and I will ask you. Have you done ANY research into the topic prior to dropping your comments?
    I have come to realize that a lot of this blogging thing is really just about someone who just wants to just criticize for the sake of criticism. To offer opinion with neither evidence or logic to back up their position.
    I have made suggestion to watch a particular video. Have you bothered or do you even care?
    I will end on these final points.
    First. You want to talk about how expensive they are and that children will destroy them. Well, how expensive is a cell phone? Doesn’t virtually every child in Barbados have one? As a rule do they “destroy” them or leave them at home? Can you do what they can do on them anywhere near as fast as them? But then of course I guess they really “learnt” their skills in school too.
    Second. We are not talking about you or I learning something today to find a job TOMMOROW. When I went to school I was taught how to use a slide rule read log tables and draw with a T square. That education was ok for me because my competition was learning the same thing. That education is NOT ok for children today. The competition has literally been born knowing nothing else before the Internet and PC. To top it all we are TALKING about preparing our children to enter and compete in the world of ten to twenty years from NEXT YEAR.
    Just how much further behind do you want them to be? You answer me.
    Cyprian La Touché

  25. Paul

    Cyprian, I understand quite clearly what you’re driving at. I’ve also argued the same thing in the past, but with little success mine you. Nonetheless, I believe that science and technology are the avenues the Ministry of Education should pay close attention to. Because these two fields of study are needed, in order to prepare the next generation of leaders in Barbados for the new global society. With that being said, the point I want to make is this: there isn’t anything wrong with going back to the fundamentals of education yesteryear. I agree that in order to equip the youth of today with a proper education. We need to stress the important of science and technology, or else they’re going to be left behind the competition. But, in the process, it’s important that we do not lose sight of the fundamentals of education. Technology is okay but it has its own drawbacks. And this we must be mindful of.

  26. Cyprian La Touché

    I whole hartedly agree with certain aspects of your comments, however what I am about to write may surprise you a little.
    I am not going to jump on the bandwagon that EVERYBODY advocates with reference to the absolute educational emphasis on science and technology.
    Yes sci-tec is vitally important but I don’t want anyone especially the ministry to believe that just putting iPads or any other electronic device will magically transform our children into these incredible tec. wizards we see on T.V. Matter fixed, problem solved, nuff said and done.
    No. It doesn’t happen that way. Children do not live in a bubble or develop in a vacuum.
    One of the major reasons why American kids do so well so often is because they are surrounded by inspiration.
    They can spend all day at the planetarium or the aquarium or the museum of aviation or natural history. They are exposed to outside art in parks and inside art in Galleries.
    They can go to the quiet and safe space of a public library and spend all morning, afternoon and evening exploring to their heart’s content. They can join afterschool clubs and spend nights in fully equipped laborotaries writing code or building robots or developing a faster and cheaper cancer detection test.
    There are year round competitions that scale in both complexity and award. There are instructors willing to give freely of their time and effort simply because they LOVE doing what they do for the kids.
    Where do you expect entrepenures to come from?
    Education just doesn’t happen 8 to 3 in a school classroom or even at home under the watchful eyes of the best parents. It happens EVERYWHERE and ALL THE TIME.
    Why is the Concord not the center of an air and space and science and technology museum? Why on a coral island can’t we see part of a living reef or learn about aquaculture at an aquarium? Where can i go to see todays architectural masterpieces. That library opposite Independance Square is Supposedly the MAIN public library of Barbados? Are we kidding?
    The resources at our disposal MUST be used to create a TOTAL learning environment. It is far more than just putting iPads in someone’s hands.
    Cyprian La Touché

  27. Cyprian La Touché

    I know my contributions have been very long (probably too long for many of you) and I sincerely apologize, but this is an important subject to me. Probably the most important if this country has any hope of making it through AS a country till the time that God comes for his/her world.
    We all talk about it but just go round and round and DELIBERATELY avoid doing the real things to put us on the right road.
    We talk about and endlessly debate the common entrance instead of analyzing the results and using what it says to fix the primary schools. Why should a child be even given a CHOICE between learning to read, write and add OR “working with their hands because they are gifted that way.”
    What does one have to do with the other?
    Education is about creating as close to a COMPLETE CITIZEN as possible. It is why we live in something called a SOCIETY. It develops us and we develop it. We communicate with each other and depend on each other. The reason for basic and PRIMARY education is to learn how to do this. The exam is A TEST first and foremost. Doesn’t anybody care what it says about the developement of the barbadian child at age 11, or only about what school they end up at?
    If a child has a problem, FIX IT!
    Why should ANY child reach the age of 11 with either in diagnosed or UNTREATED dyslexia?
    Why aren’t children who perform so poorly at year end not given the help they need in SUMMER SCHOOL? When did summer recess become an inalienable right for teacher and student?
    Please, our priorities are all wrong. It is NOT the child’s responsibility to fix the issues at secondary school with a “better mix” of student. The solution is to send them a “better” student in the first place. It is OUR problem to solve.
    Cyprian La Touché

  28. Paul

    Cyprian, your piece on America was quite informative. But it fell short of indicating how these programs above are going to be funded. In the real world much of everything boils down to available financial resources. And the islands of the Caribbean certainly do not have those kinds of resources; to do the kind of things you have mention above. (It all sounds good in theory. But is its application workable in a Caribbean school-environment? ) Furthermore, I hope that you’re well aware of the fact that is cost money to visit the: Planetariums, Museums, Parks, and Galleries? And this money comes directly from the pockets of: parents, private- citizens, charitable- organizations, town-budgets, and grants etc.

    Let’s take the public – library for example: you’re cognizant of the the Public – Library offers after-school activities to Children in their respective communities? But, unfortunately, are unable to cater to the needs of the surrounded communities. Because of they budget constraints. Now, I am thinking, how in the world would the government of Barbados pay for these programs? Maybe you have a keener understanding of how to implement these programs in a West- Indian environment. (Volunteerism does little without the financial backing).

    Finally, what I hope you understand is this: most Public- Libraries in America are funded by the town’s budget; financial- grants from the federal- government; volunteerism from private-citizens; and private- donations. So then, it is not fair and well founded to compare the United States of America to Barbados; a nation some three- hundred years old. Let’s put is this way: Barbados is a working progress, but a slow one at that. You passionate about your idea for Barbados education system, but are they realistic?

  29. Cyprian La Touché

    What idea(s) are you talking about exactly that you find so enthusiastically “unrealistic”?
    As I have said before, the one thing I like about blogging is that everything and anything I have said is right there in black and white for all to see.
    The vast majority of my contribution on this thread has been in defense of my suggestion to adopt the iPad or similar tablet instead of the (proposed) e-reader in order to benefit better from the full Internet experience.
    If that is the “idea” you want to oppose, feel free to point out the flaws in my position.
    As for our conversation please enlighten me as to which observation that I have made that is incorrect. Was I wrong in my analysis of the reasons why American kids will generally do so much better given their “superior” environment?
    Was it unfair of me to ask how do we achieve the stated goal of becoming the world leader in producing entrepenures without doing or creating the social conditions required to do such?
    Was it stupid of me to suggest that we attempt to fix children’s problems BEFORE they become problem children?
    Or maybe you think that tourist in their thousands flock to Barbados for the incredible Concord Experience? By the way do you have ANY idea how much per year the government has to pay the U.K. For the privilage of having that airplane?
    Or maybe you just didn’t like my comments about the library. Maybe it really doesn’t make sense to FOCUS the limited funds and resources you do have and create something SPECTACULAR in the heart of our capital city that would bring the same thousands into that city.
    And do you think that the aquarium and the planetarium and the museums were built overnight? Did I say it all had to happen right now?
    And please, do not jump from a discussion on Barbados to one about other islands. This discussion is not about them, because if it was I would point it out that Trinidad is taking the money they make off us and doing the things they have to do for their own people. Who is the idiot here?
    You hide behind the excuse of money, so I guess you know how much it would cost to do things we talked about. But ask yourself, what has been the cost of NOT doing those things so far?
    And what will it all cost TOMMOROW?
    Cyprian La Touché

  30. Cyprian La Touché

    @paul (again)
    Every society has a story. Every culture has a history. Every human on this earth is brother or sister and none (with the possible exception of Adam and Eve) have come into this world as fully formed adults.
    We may be flavored and colored different but ultimately we all know we ARE no different.
    An American is the same as an Asian is the same as a Jamaican is the same as a Bajan. The lovely labels we stick upon our selves are only just cosmetic. We still all THINK the same way when it “boils down to it”. This is the Only REAL world I know about.
    So the rules of life apply to US and not to THEM? THEY can do things WE can’t? Because why? Because they live on a continent and we an island?
    I know, it’s because God gave them more MONEY than us!

    “Free your mind and the rest will follow.”

    There are ways to get what we want to get, but as another saying goes;
    “Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die”.
    If your priorities are Reggae on the Beach and on the Hill and at Kensington and then St. Lucia, exactly how do you expect to get there?

    But then of course, it’s all about the money isn’t it.

    Cyprian La Touché

  31. Paul

    Cyprian, I am not here to oppose you for the sake of do so. I have better things to do with my time. No impertinent intended with respect to what I going to ask you here, but I am wondering if you’re speaking from first hand experience’ or what you have read? Now, let me touch on one of the points you made yesterday that troubled me a bit. You said that:” Education is about creating as close as to a Complete Citizen as possible.” Not if that education is designed in such away that is compels a citizen to think paradigmatically. The primary focus of education shouldn’t be to indoctrinated the mind, and condition it to obey authority. But to teach the mind how to think independently, based on that education. (I hope I’ve made my point understandable). “The fundamental purpose of academic-education, writes Sir Oliver Wendell Holmes,” is not the acquisition of fact, but learning how to make fact live.” We have to use what we have been taught to make sense of our world. Or else we will continue to recapitulate the same antiquated ideas.
    Now to deal with point at hand: this may probably come as a shock to you. But research after research has shown (especially in the inner-cities of America) that West- Indian Kids performs at a higher level, academically, than American kids; especially when these kids migrate to America during the high-school age. (This really speak to the academic system in the Caribbean) Now, I want to be honest here Cyprian. Educators have also founded that a number of these kids coming from the Caribbean, lack the basis grammatical skills. So that is why kids coming from the Caribbean are assessed to determine if they have those necessary skills. If it founded that these Caribbean kids aren’t up to par. Effort are made to help these kids cultivate the skills are that especially needed in this part of the world. Now based on these research findings, we can conclude that the system of education in the Caribbean isn’t all that bad.

  32. Cyprian La Touché

    An. Paul. Once again i have to ask, where did I say that the education system in this neck of the woods was “all that bad”? After all, I am a product of that system. I am a product of that society and have made the CHOICE to live in it with all its misgivings and issues.
    I have lived in the big world (Toronto Canada) and the small world (Hamilton Bermuda) outside of Barbados. I speak from first hand experience of my own 50 year experience on this planet.
    I remember my first lessons on how cities grow and die in Mr. Shield’s geography class at Harrison KOLIJ, and the later lessons of the fallacious arguments people make, in philosophy class at Ryerson with Mr. Murray. I have worked in both the public and private sectors. I have worked in a range of hotels from all inclusive to the best all “exclusive”.
    But tell me why the need to “qualify” myself? Does doing that make any of my positions more or less logical or valid? Or is it that it makes you (and the many others) more comfortable and ready to accept them?
    Put letters in front or behind your name and suddenly you are “qualified” to spout any foolishness you want to.
    Nobody wants to deal with what is ON THE TABLE. does it make sense or not? Should I speak Latin or quote Chaucer or T.S. Elliot? Would that suffice to change your mind?
    Or maybe I should refer you to TED. A place where people much smarter than me discuss things much more beyond me and my limited experience.
    After you have listened to noted educators like Geoffrey Canada and Ken Robinson and Rita Pearson would you listen to me then?
    I can’t think of anybody in my immediate family who cannot communicate properly, yet we all know people who don’t. So is the school system solely and wholey responsible for that? Or does an education indeed happen EVERYWHERE as I have intoned?
    And finally, I deliberately said that the role of formal BASIC education is to give the individual the tools to communicate and function as a productive member of the society. To be a “complete citizen” is NOT to be a “finished person”. It doesn’t you stop learning or growing or thinking. It doesn’t mean you become a slave or an automation.
    Above all it doesn’t mean you can’t CHANGE society. Indeed that is exactly what it wants you to do. It is when a society does not change and adapt that it withers and dies and is taken over by another.
    The Egyptian the Greeks the Romans the British the Americans (eventually). All the tribes of Africa and Europe and the Americas, they too had their day.
    Society does not care about individual success. It does not care about who is on top or at the bottom. Who wants to be the leader or the slave. It ONLY cares about it’s own survival and what it needs US to do to achieve that.
    I am uncertain wether or not bees and ants can form individual thoughts but I know for Shute we can. And that’s what our society wants us to do.
    And p.s. making sense of ourselves is more important than making sense of the world around us. It really doesn’t care wether we live, die or do otherwise.
    Cyprian La Touché

  33. Cyprian La Touché

    I reviewed my last contribution and felt I have to summarize.
    All of us are qualified to speak on the Education Experience because we all went through it.
    What we each got out of it was an entirely different matter but we just have to think back and reflect on why we did what we did as children. Why did one teacher get through to us and another didn’t. Why time flew in one class and dragged in another. What concepts did we understand in two minutes but forgot after a boring two hour lecture.
    The issues are EXACTLY the same. The SOLUTIONS are exactly the same. Just like the common entrance they are only framed in a different guise. Change is the only true constant and change is what we have to embrace. What we knew yesterday was relevant and the reason why we did what we did yesterday.
    Today we know better. We know more. We can understand why.
    we now have improved and different tools to do what we want to do and magnitude times faster.
    When we look at the reasons why the western school system is structured and developed the way it is we quickly realize they have little to do with actual education of the child but a lot to do with accommodating prevailing social systems and economic conditions.
    Why are we taught by rote. Why are we taught in timed shifts. Why are we not taught all year round. Why are some of us taught what we are taught and not some others directed along a totally diferent route.
    Which concepts (like languages) are better taught at which times according to the juvenile brain’s development, and is that development now not happening faster?
    This is what we have to discuss and not dismiss. This is what we have to answer for ourselves and not wait till someone else finds the answers for us.
    I will conclude here with my final thought. It is a saying that everybody knows.

    “Dear God.
    Please grant me the patience to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    That is all I am really trying to say.
    Cyprian La Touché

  34. With the sudden loss of electrical energy today, for one reason or another, all our business transactions have to come to an end until the energy is restored. We have become far too dependent on electrical energy. even the phone systems and water pumps stop, and most gas station pumps also stop. So virtually, our whole living system slowly shuts down.
    Probably we don’t believe this shutdown can happen, but a bad solar flare our way,… can do it. Or a bad hurricane, earthquake, comet strike, or war. The potential is there. Be certain about that.
    So turn off you own electrical supply for a few days, and experience this is a mild way. Yes ! Why don’t you ???.

  35. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if
    it’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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