Educator warns vocational designation could bring stigma

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St. John’s Antigua- An experienced educator is warning of the likely stigma that would be attached to technical and vocational institutions as the Ministry of Education moves towards universal secondary education in 2013.

The advice comes from Maizie Southwell, a primary school teacher for over 50 years, who also served as an education officer in the Ministry of Education.

“I think that should come at a little later stage…They will stigmatise the whole thing…they will have a feeling like it’s a school for the rejects. So that’s something you have to be very careful about. It will commit a stigma, no matter what you do it will commit a stigma,” Southwell warned.

Director of Education Jacintha Pringle has indicated that with moves towards universal secondary education by 2013, some of the secondary schools might have to be converted into technical schools to facilitate those who are not academically inclined.

The Ministry of Education is yet to iron out the changes towards universal secondary education next year. The anticipated changes include the elimination of the Common Entrance exam, but Southwell said the likely move towards continuous assessments is a positive one.

“That will be good because when they know they will be assessed, it will motivate them to work but if there was no assessments they would just do as they like,” Southwell said.

Meanwhile John Mussington, principal of the sole secondary school in Barbuda, said the sister isle is on track for universal secondary education.

The principal of the Sir McChesney George Secondary School said the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has been approached for funding to expand the school.

“Being the only secondary school in Barbuda, it means therefore the programme that is going to be offered has to include all learners, whether it be those in the technical vocational area, or if it’s strictly academic,” Mussington said.

“The CDB has been approached with respect to funding an expansion of the school plant in Barbuda … the idea is to increase the capacity of the school in terms of its infrastructure, for example 10 new classrooms, new labs and additional facilities to accommodate all comers with respect to that universal secondary education programme,” Mussington said.

The Sir McChesney George principal said they have also begun tackling the need for extra human resources.

“It’s not only the infrastructure that is going to need upgrading. It’s also the human resources available…that has been recognised and steps have already been initiated to facilitate that,” Mussington said.

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