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Put more focus on Agricultural Science

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16.JAN.09

Editor: Some time in late 2008, a well known academic and motivational speaker made some remarks at a forum for young people. Strangely, these remarks went unchallenged. I felt disturbed by the comments, especially since they were related to a school in the capital of Kingstown. Some of these comments were described by the speaker as “2:00 p.m. in the afternoon, school children with a cutlass and their school bags on their backs doing Agricultural Science”.{{more}}

School administration should have been congratulated for keeping agriculture alive for many years. These children have toiled, the fruits of their labour were reaped and pilfered by persons, known and unknown, who robbed those children of their valiant efforts to link the theory and the practical aspect of education. This is the only school in Kingstown that does Agricultural Science, to further highlight the folly ‘Agriculture Science is only done by rural schools’.

At the two leading secondary schools in this country, where top places for common entrance are allotted, agricultural science is not on the school’s curriculum. This is a reflection of how agriculture is viewed by the elites of the education system, where agriculture is relegated to the back burner. In analysing the past winners of island scholarships, none have chosen any field of study relating to agriculture.

Food security is an issue. Issues like these the learned gentleman should have raised at this forum. Questions like why some of our brightest minds are not involved in agriculture. Why are no scholarships awarded at the University of the West Indies for agriculture? Issues such as: is there any succession management plan in our secondary schools by the relevant authorities to replace those agriculture science teachers who will be retiring soon?

Who will be delivering or planning introduction of the green house technology at the schools which the learned gentleman had asked to be introduced? There are several more questions to be asked. Will the goodly gentleman visit the abovementioned institution and have a motivational session with them.

Another observation that came out of the address was the idea of school children having their bags on their backs while performing their task on the outside. From a sociological point of view, this is an indicator of the trends that are taking place throughout all of our schools. Students even when going to the toilet have to walk with their school bags on their backs. There are no figures to say how many school bags are stolen: two brands, Jansport and Joy Sport seem to be the preferred targets. This situation is endemic and is largely ignored. Scarcely a week passes without a report of bags or bags and books being stolen. If this happens in schools, what happens in the wider society?

To me, such forums should have been better used to highlight what needs changing in our education system. In my mind, an honest opinion, the institution should have been given some recognition from this learned gentleman, and I hope someone from within the system gives that school its just due and calls for a retraction of those statements.

Albert Edwards

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