“Moving forward in education…” - 26 oct 2008

“Moving forward in education…”

For me the year 2005 was a memorable year for many reasons.  Among the reasons was the level of global campaigning on poverty – especially in the UK where I was at the time.  There were rallies in Trafalgar Square in London and in Edinburgh in Scotland. 
On July 2nd, I remember jumping on a train from Peterborough and on the way to Scotland, met my buddy Marcus Jardine and his family.  The rally is said to have attracted some 225 000 people – it was an amazing experience as we joined such a positive expression of hope. 
The global summits in 2005 built upon one in September 2000, where world leaders came together at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration.  The background for this project can be found at http://www.undp.org/mdg
This declaration was a commitment to a global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets - with a deadline of 2015 - that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals. US Tax Singapore
Recently, I was chatting with my friend Tamara Brathwaite about these 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Of course the conversation steered towards how Trinidad and Tobago is doing.  Not that we are experts mind you, but after some thought we concluded that the MDGs were considered, and to some extent, were incorporated into the Vision 2020 framework.
Tamara and I decided to focus on education in our discussion. Education is covered under the second Millennium Development Goal which goes on to say that –
…Better education is fundamental to the prospects for economic and social development and the end of world poverty. ‘Toward Universal Primary Education’ offers a rigorous set of interventions that countries can choose from to help provide universal access to high-quality education by focusing on hard-to-reach groups of people, educating girls and women to break the cycle of low education and strengthening educational opportunities for adolescents.
In Vision 2020, education is considered under ‘Developing Innovative People’. This section goes onto say that –
…Increasingly, globalising economies are recognizing the importance of developing the creativity and innovation of their people and nurturing a society in which opportunities for life-long learning exist…  With respect to educational performance, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago have many opportunities.  Universal primary and secondary education accounts for a 97.5% youth literacy rate and a 93.8% adult literacy rate.
The Vision 2020 document then went on to cite some statistics from the now famous Global Competitiveness Report. So I decided to look at how our rankings for 2004 – 2005 compare to 2008 – 2009. In terms of education, the following jumped out at me –
  • Internet access in schools was 78 out of 104; now 72 out of the 134 countries ranked.
  • Availability of scientists and engineers was 73 out of 104; now 55 out of the 134 countries ranked.
  • Quality of the education system was 64 of 104; now 42 out of the 134 countries ranked.
The report was a mixed one and the areas in which we did not score well have been the subject of much discussion.  I just thought it was interesting to highlight some of the areas in which we are doing well according to this Global Competitiveness Report. 
So for 2008 – 2009 here are some of the areas in which Trinidad and Tobago is deemed to have a competitive advantage –
  • Strength of auditing and reporting standards was 45 out of 134 countries ranked.
  • Quality of primary education was 50 out of 134 countries ranked.
  • Quality of math and science education was 43 out of 134 countries ranked.
  • Quality of management schools was 37 out of 134 countries ranked.
For me this confirms what Tamara was saying about Millennium Development Goal number 2 – we are considered to be doing relatively well when it comes to education.
I was pointed to a website that is intended to actively involve the Youth of Trinidad and Tobago in the advocacy of the affairs of the United Nations, with specific reference to the Millennium Development Goals.  It is at http://youngtt.org – a group ‘for’ and ‘by’ young people.
It is good to acknowledge and encourage positive work by our young, future leaders as we move towards Vision 2020. 

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