It has grow to be almost cliché to say that Barbados has only a few resources aside from its human capital and the island’s natural beauty. Those two have been combined as critical inputs in sustaining our important economic driver – tourism.
Buttressing our human resources has been our instructional system, which is basically supported by a public policy during which tax payers shoulder the price whether the recipients are from wealthy families, or they’re from dirt poor origins.
The vast majority of Barbadians have come from working-class backgrounds where poverty was a fact of life, a pit toilet was a shared experience, and hand-me-downs were common amongst siblings.
A whole lot of that has modified for the present generation. Though most young Barbadians within the “gen zers” population – born between 1997 and 2012 – are prone to be showering by solar water heaters, have probably never seen, far less used a pit toilet, and have been binging on smartphone technology and tablets since they were toddlers, an estimated 20 to 25 per cent of Barbadians are still in poverty.
For the working classes whose life today is probably not as difficult when it comes to material possessions, as generations before them, households across this island still place a high priority on educational attainment since it remains to be the surest path to upward mobility.
We’ve relied on the Ministry of Education because the guardian of our much vaunted system. We’re aware of the stories in regards to the quality of education offered in Barbados. Our graduates from the world-rated University of the West Indies have risen to the best echelons of academia, enterprise and government, not only in Barbados but all over the world.
After all, the playing field is evolving. The rise of high-priced private primary and secondary schools has provided more options for folks searching for essentially the most appropriate education services to suit the needs of their children. However, the changing landscape has caused some to query the effectiveness of the general public system.
In all this, there’s one institution on the island that has been flying under the radar and never being bestowed the accolades it justly deserves. We’re referring to the Barbados Community College (BCC).
Often, assessments of educational achievements are restricted to attainments at secondary school and university, without crediting the institution at The Eyrie, in Howell’s Road, St Michael, which has been a critical feeder for the University of the West Indies (UWI) and other institutions of upper learning across the Caribbean, North America and Britain.
In 2009, when Professor Sir Hilary Beckles was Principal and Pro Vice Chancellor of UWI Cave Hill Campus, his mission was to have a university graduate in every Barbadian household.
We’d argue that this goal of a graduate in every household was long achieved by the BCC with no acclaim. The BCC campus has been a fertile ground for a few of our most successful academics, business executives, politicians, and professionals across several fields.
It’s unlucky that the BCC has not done more to inform its own stories of success and achievement. The faculty, has for too long, lived within the shadow of the Cave Hill Campus.
It was gratifying, nonetheless, over the weekend to witness the primary in-person graduation ceremony of the faculty since 2019 where almost 820 individuals graduated with various levels of certification including Bachelor’s Degrees, Associate Degrees and diplomas.
It can have gone unnoticed, however the BCC has been delivering bachelor’s degrees in areas resembling nursing, journalism and media, music and superb arts. It produces many of the island’s pharmacists and its tourism and hospitality graduates are highly wanted, allowing the country’s most significant sector to be continually supported by a cadre of trained personnel with the knowledge base and skills to maintain the industry competitive.
Away from the controversy that has dogged her in recent weeks, Minister of Education Kay McConney, who was featured speaker on the BCC graduation, highlighted the instrumental role the institution has played, calling the faculty a “dynamic and progressive institution” that was “future proofing” its curriculum.
As we shower praises on the BCC, we mustn’t ever forget the role of founders resembling former Minister of Education and Prime Minister Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford for his or her foresight within the establishment of BCC. Sir Lloyd went on to function a lecturer on the institution. The contribution of stalwarts like former principal Norma Holder also needs to be heralded.
To the past and current administration and staff of the BCC, we are saying job well done.