When we speak of free education, persons often think only in terms of academic subjects and tertiary level university education. What I want to bring to national attention is that free education also speaks to the many technical and vocational areas.
Through the development of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic , the Technical and vocational training board and other similar institutions, many a Barbadian have been able to adequately provide for themselves and their families. The contribution of the persons who work in these areas however is often not recognized far less highlighted. Very often, persons in the non-traditional sectors help to create employment for the persons who would have opted for studies in the mainstream. For instance, many an accountant, management graduate and lawyer have received employment as a result of the creation of non-traditional businesses and artisan endeavors.
I am of the firm conviction that our skills gifted youth are not sufficiently supported. I am by no means discrediting the many agencies who have been giving of assistance. What I do want to encourage however is that those bodies collaborate and streamline their services to better cater for their clientele. Furthermore, as a society, we need to recognize that a young man or lady who wants to be a plumber, mechanic or hairdresser has the potential to contribute as much to the development of their home, community and nation as the aspiring doctor or lawyer. Additionally, there is the increased need for ongoing advice and support for persons who have decided to pursue technical and vocational training to open sustainable and successful businesses.
If Barbados is to continue on its current development path, we can no longer afford to ignore a vital segment of our education program and the contribution which it can make to nation building. The powers that be must seek to place as much energy, emphasis and most importantly resources at the disposal of technical and vocational educational institutions.
We must strive to develop not only enterprises but also entrepreneurs and development fueled by creativity. Creativity lies within our technically skilled youth but must be nurtured, developed and guided in order to contribute to the economic and overall benefit of the Barbadian society.
I invite all of Barbados to encourage and provide the space for the creativity of our young people to shine, grow and develop.
Damian J. Mascoll
The Barbados Youth Development Council