A New Ecology

What futures are we educating for? How do we future-proof the workforce of West Indies? What are schools in the West Indies trying to accomplish? What are the contemporary aims of West Indian education? Sixty-five per cent of today’s school students will be doing jobs that don’t exist as yet. How do we prepare learners today for the multidisciplinary jobs of the future? CARICOM member countries collectively issued eighty-seven thousand work permits, 75 per cent of which went to extra-regional skilled people, between 2000 and 2010. The first step towards a new constellation of beliefs, tools and practices in education in the West Indies would be to radically depart from the model of education bequeathed to the Caribbean by Empire. It requires the grit to design a model of education that will output graduates who are entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators; people who become factors of production in themselves by introducing new products, new methods of production, creating new markets, and finding new sources of raw materials that are valued in one or more cultural settings.  This shift must be grounded in a new set of aims for education. Aims that prepare learners to join the rise of a creative class, for global economic citizenship, a new cognitive capitalism, cosmopolitanism and a borderless world. Education for Liberty sets out to recast the ecological dimensions of schooling in the West Indies. The rise of a creative class was never envisaged during the plantocracy phases of West Indian political economy. Education for liberty aims to release the imagination; to allow learners to use their actual minds to create their possible worlds. Learners are therefore released for moral and intellectual autonomy. Their capabilities are augmented and heightened by widening their horizons, increasing their awareness of choice, enlarging their points of reference, and layering their levels of perception.  Youth and Unemployment in the Caribbean, a World Bank Report by Monica Parra-Torrado (2014, p.11), states that apart from the low quality of education in the region, the set of skills which the youth acquire at school proves to be irrelevant to the labour market. A report to the CARICOM Commission on Human Resource Development, which informed the regional education and human-resource development 2030 strategy, states that the major challenge for employers in the Caribbean is that applicants have poor or no employment skills. After slavery and indentureship, schooling for those who the plantocracy had hoped would continue to be labourers produced widespread epistemic poverty with waves of inequality rippling into the present.   Education for liberty is concerned with the development of reasoned agency; with involvement in a life of reason. The emphasis is on releasing the imagination.  A culture of innovation grows from two interrelated processes: (1) the accumulation of fulfilling social experiences regarding the beneficial impacts of innovation and (2) the nurturing by the education system of the propensity of learners to be imaginative in solving problems and the confidence in their ability to use such creativity while working on actual projects. At every stage of education this is critical, including education during employment. But it matters most of all during the primary cycle. It is at the primary stage that we must spiral a lifelong aim across subsequent stages of education to grow the complete toolkit of skills central to innovation and entrepreneurship. This would require a complete overhaul of the Nine Frames of the Ecology of Schooling.

Forward Leaning Legislation New Pedagogies An Education Estate Audit
Curriculum with transversal competencies Fresh Aims of Education Departure from Punitive Assessment Methods
Renewed emphasis on Ethics and Aesthetics Quality Assurance & Institutional Effectiveness New Administrative Structures

Nine Frames of the Ecology of Schooling