One senior educator has said the BVI’s education system has become “elitist”, due to the prevailing mindset among parents that students have to become lawyers, doctors and professionals in the science and technology fields.
Deputy Principal of the Elmore Stoutt High School, Cecil Hodge said the push for academic subjects has resulted in the marginalization of technical and vocational studies which many students would prefer.
“For some reason, the schools have become highly academic and the students who certainly have an interest in going into technical and vocational education feel like the programmes are not doing what they are supposed to do. We don’t even have a trade school,” Hodge explained at a Teachers’ Union Forum held on March 8, when stakeholders discussed ways to improve the education system.
He said the BVI’s education system is “missing out” as there are many youth who run the risk of dropping out of school because academics don’t appeal to them.
“We have many students who are at risk and even when they drop out of school they have an interest in doing a trade. Some of them are interested in becoming carpenters, plumbers, electricians, they want to be able to make shoes. But for whatever reason, we are unable to put those types of programmes in our curriculum. We have too many of our students falling by the wayside, especially our boys,” Hodge explained.
In addition to a focus on academics, one educator said more teachers need to be trained to deal with differently-abled students.
“There is a lack of trained persons in our classrooms to accommodate the rising number of mix-ability students. There is a need to train teachers to work in inclusive classrooms,” said Tammy Henry, President of the BVI Teachers’ Union.
Despite this challenge, Henry said the BVI’s education system should be commended for its inclusivity as classrooms across the territory are filled with traditional learners and those categorised as differently-abled.
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