The Bahamas government has sought to underscore the importance of developing a new paradigm in education help students deal with the changing global environment.
Education Minister, Jeffrey Lloyd, speaking at the opening of the Public School Administrators Conclave 2019, said that “to thrive in today’s innovation driven economy all of us will need a different mix of skills than in the past.
“In addition to foundational skills like literacy, numeracy and oracy we are going to need four C’s – collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication. Never before, unlike any time before, those skills will be essential in the problem solving and character qualities that this 21st century demands and will require,” said Lloyd.
He told the conference that the need for all individuals to have these skills is heightened by major changes in the labour market, the focus of skilled jobs on solving unstructured problems, effectively analysing information, technology substituting for manual labour among others.
The two-day conclave is being held under the theme “Effective Leadership, One Team, One Goal” and Lloyd emphasised the need for education to be “visionary” more than ever before.
He said to cope with rapid changes in the 21st century – innovation, technology and research, including self-management in the learning process, are indispensable tools for students, teachers, administrators and policy makers.
“Failure to innovate by and large means repeating yesterday’s educational programs and strategies tomorrow, which will only further jeopardise education’s ability as a contributor to national development,” said Lloyd.
The Ministry of Education said in order to equip students with the goals and 21st century skills required, it has embarked on a US$17 million Smart School System upgrade.
The authorities are hoping that within a year, the entire educational system will be upgraded to include experiential learning, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, personalised learning and distance learning, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
“We have every year, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 teacher shortages in our system in those most critical areas, math, sciences, foreign languages, and students that are most affected are those in Family Islands particularly the Southern islands.
“That is unfair because we have committed to equal access to quality education. Technology is going to eliminate that. Technology is going to further empower you and I, administrators and teachers, in providing the kind of support, assistance and instructions we need for our students,” said Lloyd.
He said from September this year, schools in the southern constituency, particularly Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguana, and San Salvador will be in a virtual school classroom.
“We are working with teachers, unions, and our administrators in making sure that this is effectively rolled out and properly implemented so that those students can benefit,” he added.
Director of Education, Marcellus Taylor, said that the conclave’s agenda was put together so that the authorities could be in a better position to determine an effective path for providing students with the kind of educational experience that will make them, the students and graduates they are needed to be.