Historian Dr Gail Saunders called for a more “exciting approach” to teaching children in the Caribbean how to become productive citizens in their respective countries.
She made the call in her presentation, ”Rebuilding Societies Through Education and Culture” at the 13th Conference of Presidents and Governors-General of the Caribbean Community Monday.
“What is needed to rebuild societies through education and culture is to create excitement in the classroom,” Dr. Saunders said. “Somehow we must learn how to use new technology and visual aids, and new methods to create excitement to teach our children history, literature, science and other subjects.”
Dr Saunders took the Heads of State on an historical journey of The Bahamas and the Caribbean, from pre-emancipation years to the twenty-first century. She said reforms in education in the 1890s followed with school building programmes, the introduction of standards and more practical curricula in secondary schools.
By the 1900s, the elementary and secondary system of education was firmly established in the British Caribbean, she said.
In The Bahamas, Majority Rule heralded a new era in education, which received the lion’s share of the government’s budget in 1967. Additionally reforms followed, new schools were built, secondary education was expanded and more attention given to tertiary education including the establishment of the College of the Bahamas in 1974.
“The reforms in the Commonwealth Caribbean during the independence era stressed the need for equality in societies which suffered from the effects of enslavement and colonialism resulting in a lack of confidence among its peoples and also innate feelings of inferiority,” Dr. Saunders said.
She noted that nearer to Independence in 1973, there was more interest in Bahamian history and culture, and a thirst to explore and to preserve the Bahamian identity.
“Bahamians, who are mainly of African descent, identified with their African roots through art, poetry, photography, dance, music, folklore, the holding of festivals particularly Junkanoo.
“However, perhaps the most ambitious project to showcase Bahamian indigenous culture was Jumbey Village, the brainchild of Parliamentarian Edmund Moxey, which focused on displaying traditional Bahamian village life including Bahamian music, art, history, food and craft,” she said.
She pointed out that over the years the world changed; capitalism and market forces became the driving forces. And by the 1990s, the technological revolution which resulted in the information age, as well as human resource development were critical if the Caribbean were to compete globally.
“Education should teach children to think critically, to train the mind and to develop the student to his or her full potential. More often than not, teachers are too busy preparing children to pass examination rather than educating them,” Dr. Saunders said.