Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Education seen as ‘a soft ministry’

Why is it that education is seen as “a soft ministry?”

This is the question Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, wants answered.

“Why is it, that right across our jurisdiction, education is seen as a soft ministry in governments? Why do the senior ministers fight for foreign affairs, industry, manufacturing, finance? Why is it, no one fights for education, (that) the most senior person in the Cabinet says education is it, I would wish to have that. Why is that?” the Campus Principal queried, while addressing Higher Education Administrators recently.

While delivering the keynote address at the opening of this year’s Association of Caribbean Higher Education Administrators (ACHEA) conference, held in the Roy Marshall Teaching Complex of the Campus, Sir Hilary also queried whether those in ACHEA have not promoted aggressively, the centrality and the importance of higher education, as the key to the future.

“Are we not winning the debate?” he remarked.

Suggesting that it is “war time,” he told those gathered that the time has come for leaders on institutions in the arena of higher education to take greater responsibility in mapping out a path for the future.

“I say this is war time, and if it is war time and our sector is being shrunk, our sector is being in some places discredited, our sector and our institutions are being marginalised, what are we going to do to realise that we must turn this circumstance around? It has to be turned around. Our very survival depends on turning these perceptions around” Sir Hilary declared.

“Collectively, all of us as institutional leaders must take our share of responsibility for where we will have to go,” the Professor stated.

“I do not believe in the passivist approach, that we are in the hands of the education ministers and we must sit idly by and allow decisions to be made for us, without us winning the debate. If you don’t win the debate, you will not get the resources and there is an argument that says – and it is a compelling argument – that here is no shortage of resources in the Caribbean for education…” Sir Hilary told those in attendance. (RSM)

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