In this Wheatake, I continue brief reflections on the slippery slope where the Territory stands, through a look at the significance of maintaining international standards in the process of Territorial educational development. I am writing this Wheatake empathetically and not contemptuously, and only one characteristic of education I am referring to-international credibility /validity. I have seen some erosion of some of the progress which had been made in education and that has prompted me to write this message.
This characteristic of our education system has been the concern of educators since 1956 when the Territory severed ties with the Leeward Islands Federation and decided to chart its own education journey. This characteristic has been cherished by B. V. Islanders in other areas of endeavour. An example in recent years is the Territorial responses to the international achievements of B. V. I. athletes. These athletes had to go through the fires of international testings before they emerged as gold, silver, or bronze medalists.
If you study the growth of B. V. I. education you can see achieving and maintaining international standards as one of the goals during the pre-ministerial period. During the early decades of the ministerial system the same emphasis can be seen. Examples at the secondary level of education to ensure international standards were the yardsticks of the General Certificate of Education Examinations which were replaced by the Caribbean Examinations Council Examinations which are legally enshrined in our system, and in Music the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music- Examinations which are known and recognized internationally. The reliability and validity of these examinations have been tested internationally. The students who qualify in these examinations have comparable international stature as the medalists.
In the case of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, in the past, the General Certificate of Education Examinations Advanced Level and the Caribbean Examinations Council CAPE Examinations were yardsticks for the standard of education achievement in selected subjects. This was adopted because Accreditation does not evaluate the level of instruction every semester. The accreditation certifies that you have the tools to do the job.
I have been involved in the development of Territorial education 1955 including membership on the Caribbean Examinations Council during the first fifteen years of its existence. During my eight years as principal of The Britih Virgin Islands High School (1972-1980), the fourteen foundation years as President of HLSCC (1991-2005) and seven years as Chief Education Officer(1980-1987), I have gathered concrete evidence of the importance of international currency in the education process.
Recently I have seen a gradual departure from that element of international currency. Inherent in this move is the slipping of standards. Again there is data to support that position. Without being specific and to avoid the appearance of discrediting anyone, I am making a simple but profound request that the stewards of the education system pay more attention to the quality of education according to international standards for the benefit of those persons enrolled in our institutions of learning. I leave with you the words of Alexander Pope:
"A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring.
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again."
- Dr. Charles H. Wheatley.