CREATING AN ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE in ANTIGUA and BARBUDA

Written by Yvonne Reynolds-Bowles, MPA, MSc

12 November, 2016

 

PART I

What it Takes to Make Dreams a Reality

Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, along with his cabinet, chose to use the country’s thirty-fifth Independence celebrations as a rallying call for Antiguans and Barbudans (A&B) to unite towards a common goal of transforming the country into an economic powerhouse.  To reach this target, all citizens must be prepared to embrace whatever is necessary to create the human capital required to power a twenty-first century marketplace.  A workforce of creative, innovative knowledge workers with the requisite cognitive skills to transform the economy via entrepreneurship ventures, will not be easy – nor will it occur overnight. The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reminds us that “the heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept were toiling upward through the night.”[i]

Economic powerhouses are created when everyone (young, middle-aged or old) who wants to work is working and receiving, at least, a liveable wage.  Each and every sector of society feeding off and positively impacting all other sectors with which it interfaces.  If we the people are to become interconnected economic multipliers, positively building on each other’s productivity to create a rising tide of jobs and economic opportunities, we need: the inputs of a government initiated comprehensive unified plan, individual as well as group effort by all residents, and a universal commitment to educational upliftment.  Part and parcel of the requirements to realize the dream of an independent, thriving nation is holding each other responsible and accountable for the other’s expected contribution in a national effort.

Wealth grows when small businesses thrive. Wealth is created when innovation and inventions dominate emerging and diverse economic enterprises. With wealth, each policy sector enjoys harmonious dividends: a stable equilibrium of contented people buoyed by safety increases and crime decreases, attainable and affordable healthcare, quality schools graduating cognitively skilled students who seamlessly expand a trained innovative workforce, normalization of standard housing, food and basic amenities, adequately maintained utilities and infrastructure, sufficient public resources to fulfil obligations to all constituents, and, accessible sustainable flowing capital investments (FDI), fuelling economic projects. For A&B to attain and maintain a Singaporean type livelihood and become the envy of the Caribbean, its citizens must be open to change. Economic growth must be earned, nurtured and protected – it is not given.

The Economy Explained – Human Capital and the Economy

Every ambitious government pursues economic growth as a symbol of successful leadership and stewardship – a visible symbol of accountability to their citizenry. In the early 1980s, classical/old school economics[ii] was all about production inputs – land, labour and capital – creating a supply of finished goods and services, (outputs), which generated wealth and jobs, due to demand.[iii] Adam Smith’s and David Ricardo’s economic theories ruled domestic markets and Keynesian economics[iv] promoted government intervention in a country’s macro-economy. Leontief’s input-output analysis (econometrics) helped us understand the economic multiplier, where one industry’s output was another’s input, or put simply, where communities got wealthy as more residents bought goods at the neighbourhood store. To understand how valuable and significant each production input factor is to the economy we need to measure it.

“Leontief once explained input-output analysis as follows: “When you make bread, you need eggs, flour, and milk. And if you want more bread, you must use more eggs. There are cooking recipes for all the industries in the economy.”[v]  For a long time, countries like those in the Caribbean, educated their populace just to fill different parts of the recipe – jobs in existing industries.  By late twentieth century, labour had evolved into human capital nomenclature which accepted the embedded inequality of “labour”.[vi]  Human capitals added economic value to the workforce depended on a person’s skills set.[vii]  Or, the skills, knowledge, and experience of an individual or population’s workforce was now viewed in terms of their value or cost to an organization or country.

Joseph Schumpeter’s economic theory promoted entrepreneurism as the innovator and mainstay of capitalism, where change was the only constant, and punctuated equilibrium the engine of [viii]creative destruction.[ix]  His economic model embraced by business schools and social science departments was used to explain the devastating effects of business cycles on a country’s workforce, where old industries were destroyed and new industries born. The new recipes created, demanded new input materials, and a restructuring of the existing economy. Put simply, we no longer needed shoemakers as they were replaced by cheap imports sold in stores.  Human capital creators of new recipes won as demand for them grew, making obsolete old familiar processes and products. A need for generating better educated creative thinkers to create new comparative advantages from innovation or help manage the new services offered in a new economy, developed.

Economic theories evolved along with changes in national economies –moving from the Industrial to Manufacturing to Service to Information Ages. Globalization, interdependence, currency/capital flows, tariffs, international institutions, corporate dominance, along with a Washington Consensus infiltrated and changed how economic markets react and behave in the global society. At the domestic level, human capital underwent another upgrade with critical thinking becoming the key to either producing personal innovations (patents) or efficiently using other people’s inventions. As the collective knowledge base grew with research, understanding and application became a necessity for a larger portion of the population. Stevens and Weale (2003), premised that if a person’s level of education determines the incomes they can command, then the question “If people with education earn more than those without, shouldn’t the same be true of countries?[x] should be answered in the affirmative.

Economic Growth and Education – What People Know Matters

Leontief’s econometrics put in perspective, the influence of public policy decisions on economic chain inputs.[xi] Using empirical (measurable) variables, Pelinescu (2015) validated the positive relationship between innovative capacity of human capital (quantity of patents produced), employee’ qualifications (schooling), and economic growth (GDP per capita changes)[xii]   The author’s meta-analysis corroborates the strong effect of worker skills (human resources) on economic growth.

Over fifty years ago Peter Drucker, foresaw the rearrangement of society where “knowledge was a more crucial economic resource than land, labour, or financial assets”, and, human capital had transformed labour into people who generated value by using their minds more than their muscles. Eric Hanushek, of Stanford University, who has spent years researching and finding connections between human capital, economic growth and school attainment,[xiii] proffers three ways in which education affects economic growth: (1) increased human capital productivity, (2) increased innovative capacity (new knowledge, technologies, products, and processes), and, (3) the enabling of knowledge flow and integration to expand how new information is understood and processed, facilitating the successful application of new technologies invented by others.[xiv]

Using cognitive skills[xv] as a proxy for education, Hanushek provides evidence of a stronger correlation between economic outcomes and education quality than that found between economic outcomes and education quantity.[xvi]  In other words, number of years of formal schooling is a weak determinant of educational outcomes. Along with other researchers, he accepts education as a central determinant of economic well-being, connecting economic growth to workers’ skills, highlighting the reality that “What people know matters.” [xvii]  What he is saying is that education is very important – but the quality of the education you get while in school is more important to your success that the actual number of years you spend in school. The clamour for more formal education credentials (college degrees) does not ensure a better educated workforce as the quality of schools decline.  He advocates the view that in developing countries such as those found in the Caribbean, if the school system (K-16) is not of high-quality, then it is not producing the cognitive skills necessary for today’s economic growth.

 

PART II

Where Does the Buck Stop? – Responsibility Versus Accountability

In the context of ethics and governance, Wikipedia defines accountability as “answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving.”[1]  It further explains the word in terms of its connection to governance, noting its centrality “to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) and individual contexts.” With regard “to leadership roles,[2] accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.”[xviii]

The difference between responsibility and accountability per my googled website[xix] is that “responsibility can be shared while accountability cannot. Being accountable not only means being responsible for something but also ultimately being answerable for your actions.  Accountability is something you hold a person to only after a task is done or not done”  More important to this article is the notion that an explanation is owed when one is held accountable, but not owed if one is responsible. Responsibility is an obligation while accountability demands answerable consequences.[xx]

UNESCO’s (2014) Regional Report About Education for All in Latin America And the Caribbean, states:

The academic achievements of the region’s pupils are worrying in most countries with information available: an average of about one third of primary pupils and almost half of secondary pupils do not appear to have acquired basic learning in literacy. In mathematics, the results are even more unsatisfactory. Furthermore, there is dramatic inequality in academic achievement affecting the most disadvantaged pupils (especially the poorest). (page 6, section 7.1)[xxi]

So, who or what should we single out as being directly accountability for ensuring students become the workers we need for today’s economy?  The problem before us in the Caribbean is how to produce knowledge workers that will innovate and increase the country’s aggregate economy.  Caribbean states have not lived up to expectations of its citizenry and the vision of past leaders, in ensuring each succeeding generation is prepared for their own time. Fortunately, education quality has overtaken education access as the buzz-word of twenty-first century education.[xxii] The Caribbean, in adjusting to global economic changes, must figure out how to create positive productivity for all citizens – not just some. Creating schools of quality, where cognitive skills are maximized to stimulate economic resurgence in each country, and the region, is a solution.

In trying to figure out who should take responsibility and/or accountability for declining student success here in the Caribbean, I chose to use the accountability variables framework of Ordu & Ordu (2016) which consists of seven levels.[xxiii] The levels which are loosely based on constituency size, funding capability, and decision-making power, are: 1) state; 2) school system; 3) school; 4) principal; 5) teachers; 6) parents; and 7) students.[xxiv]  The authors conjoin clear accountability with the alignment of all levels  sharing goals, beliefs, values, visions and actions.  Mirroring Ordu & Ordu’s seven levels is the Gawron, H. (2014) vital equation which proffers a pathway to prevent students from failing in school:

Family + Student + School + Policymakers/Voters = Student Success.

Education funding from governments has ebbed and flowed as the economy of individual Caribbean countries react to business cycles with a genesis in the globalized world.[xxv]  Still, Jules, D (2016) estimates that today’s Caribbean countries “spend a much larger percentage of public money on education than many developed countries.”  He observes that although “educational expenditure as a percentage of GDP is higher or on par with many OECD countries, … performance is not commensurate to that investment.[xxvi]  If we claim education funding as government’s only obligation, then we can conclude its accountability has been met. Interestingly, Pelinescu (2015) finding shows that government expenditure on education does not significantly increase GDP (gross domestic product).  More germane to this exploration of accountability is the state’s oversight arm of associated Boards, (BOE) which control the rules/regulations guiding the school system and so it needs also to be evaluated for accountability.

The overwhelming perception in most Caribbean countries is of an education system in crisis, needing immediate re-definition.[xxvii] Caribbean education systems have gone through several iterations of reform, as governments searched for answers to reverse declining education standards validated by statistical measures of student success (standardized exams).[xxviii]  Internationally, testing is still the way to measure success and grade accountability. Recent results of CXC and CSEC exams expose a need for changes – not for dumbing down rules to increase results, but for objective, comprehensive evaluations of curriculum implementation and assessments at all levels.

Reform is still an ongoing priority item for the Caribbean, indicated by CARICOM’s Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) recent proposal that this year must become zero hour to design a Regional Strategic Action Plan for a harmonised approach to educational reform.”[xxix]  In terms of accountability, government boards are still searching for solutions to decrease education inequality and declining student success. Given past failed reforms, one could fault government institutions of having failed the accountability test. However, since change is a given, one can also choose to find government’s continual search for reliable effective systems, a positive demonstration of, and commitment to, accountability.

It is reasonable to wonder whether the vision and edicts of government appointed leaders are being ignored – passively resisted by a bureaucracy that put their jobs above the future of the next generation and an entire nation – leading to declining results.  Implementation is the most important aspect of policymaking as it is here the original problem can be reinterpreted to protect status quo institutions, or reshaped by dominant ideology. Understanding how a vision is operationalized and followed through to become reality on the ground, is key to ensuring that expectations become realized. Change is a constant.  All public officials must embrace change as the only way forward, to ensure continued student success. A society’s voters must hold accountable administrations which de-prioritize and dismiss education issues which highlight failures.

Education in the Caribbean has always been embedded in religious institutions as the church was traditionally deemed the best way to inculcate desirable attitudes and habits in children[xxx]. In the Caribbean, this partnership is still evidenced, and in many cases, still dominate the choices students have for schooling.  In A&B and other Caribbean countries, more students are taught in private Pre-K and Primary schools, but this tendency reverses at the high school level, when most schooling falls onto government coffers. Private schools tend to be non-profits, with Boards as the de jure policy-making oversight body, deciding where and on what the school spends its money. Boards determine the structure, policies and procedures of an organization.  As such, the Boards of both private and public schools have the same responsibility and accountability.

A non-profit’s Board of Directors are legally tasked with organizational management – programmatic, financial, and legal.[xxxi] Boards have three primary responsibilities: (1) Duty of Care; (2) Duty of Loyalty; and (3) Duty of Obedience. (responsibility for organizational planning, informed decision-making, conflict of interest avoidance, prioritization of organization’s interests above personal interests, ensuring all actions are legal and ethical, and, organization commitment to its mission).[xxxii]  Directors are the leaders of their organization, held responsible for its performance and success. In Caribbean countries where student success in private schools is not significantly different from those of public schools, each school’s Board must be held accountable for the levels of student success. There is no religious exemption from accountability and being “private” does not exempt a school from being held accountable by the government, parents and the society, market competition notwithstanding.

REFER TO GRAPHICS FOUND HERE
http://www.generationready.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/PD-White-Paper.pdf

At school level, we have the internal factors of principals, teachers and students. Principals are considered the implementers in chief of the Board’s “vision”.  On the ground level, they are charged with setting the school culture and climate as well as being an effective liaison between the outside and inside worlds.[xxxiii]  Principals have both direct and indirect contact with, and on students.  Studies show their significant impact (about 10% if using Hattie’s percentages above) on student motivation, behaviour, self-esteem, classroom learning (instructional leader), and school environment (organization, collaboration and safety).  Many believe principals are more influential than teachers, as their sphere of influence is more broad based.

Research provides empirical evidence showing the significance of a principal’s positive impact on student achievement: “results indicate that highly effective principals raise the achievement of a typical student in their schools by between two and seven months of learning in a single school year; ineffective principals lower achievement by the same amount.” [xxxiv]  Flawed principals negatively affect many aspects of schooling – teacher turnover rates, inefficient schedules, deficiency of basic resources, and corrosive school climates.  In the Caribbean, principal expectations have shifted from them being just a resource manager to them integrating instructional leader duties. Principals are therefore directly and significantly accountable for student success.

The teacher-student accountability link is undeniable as a direct connection to student learning and achievement.  Hattie (2003) estimates teacher impact to be as much as 30 percent.  From earliest times, public education teachers were the chain-link held most accountable for student success, providing the strengthening glue in the student achievement chain. Ruby King’s research (1999) reminds us that in 1861, colonial government in exchange for underwriting education expansion in the Caribbean, demanded accountability standards.  Some countries (Britain, America) have sought to use education as a social control mechanism, (social engineering) entrusting this responsibility to a dominant, ubiquitous religious community, already offering social services to a freed people.[xxxv] Commensurately, government demanded measurable results, with accountability factors, rested primarily on the shoulders of teachers[xxxvi].

The aptly named accountability project, System of Payment by Results, had definitive evaluation rules, with inspectors grading schools based on attainment of specific standards (e.g. student/teacher attendance, instruction, curriculum organization and implementation). This account of our history, harkens to the recent past and President George W. Bush’s accountability reform strategy establishing the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) framework along with his successor, President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program, which graded schools and tied funding to teacher-linked student grades.  As teachers became scapegoats for student failure and school grades, scepticism grew, swelling protest on the efficacy of this approach resulted in calls to end these policies[xxxvii]

Gawron’s (2010) advice to her fellow teachers, a co-dependent link in the accountability chain, is applicable to responsibility’ accounting. Teachers are longsuffering burden bearers and fall guys for negative student attainment. Teacher effectiveness while important in the accountability chain or hierarchy, is not the only input factor to student success and should not be the only factor singled out for blame.[xxxviii]  Teachers tend to be the ones whose reputation, promotion and jobs are savaged if student performance falls below expectations. Few inquiries into what teachers need in order to be effective, confident, satisfied workers are made.[xxxix]  Walt Gardner (2013) speaks for many in society when he notes that teachers are not miracle workers and student success is a partnership between students and teacher.

Students themselves are responsible for their learning. This does not mean that one is blaming the victim if a child fails to succeed, but there is the reasonable and rational understanding and acceptance of an individual responsibility/accountability component in student achievement. Hattie’s research promulgates student ability as the greatest impact factor for their own success. Heather Gawron’s (2014) ten ways in which students can proactively help themselves to ensure their own scholastic success, which you can read about here, is great advice with which most would agree.[xl]  While she acknowledges the reality of students who are bent on self-destruction, she cautions adults (parents, teachers, villagers) of their responsibility to provide support and guidance to students as they learn how to learn.

Parents and family connections need to be evaluated for accountability.  Hanushek et.al.’s (2010) findings which interlink economic growth, education quality, knowledge development, cognitive skills and student achievement, cautions that a variety of factors outside of school – family, peers, and others – have a direct and powerful influence on student achievement.[xli] Numerous studies,[xlii] including meta-analyses, definitively show a direct correlation where students’ achievement increase with increased parental involvement – after-all parents are a child’s first teacher.

Parents provide literary resources and cultural exposure, they are primary care-givers and health providers, self-esteem builder, motivator in chief and disciplinarian of last resort. Parents, like teachers, have extensive direct relations with students, influencing attitudes, habits, motivation and behaviour, sharing the most time and environment with children/students. “In their first 18 years, children spend 87 percent of their waking time outside school in their parents’ charge. How parents direct this time can have major effects on student achievement.“ (Henderson & Mapp)  The Responsive Classroom (2016) provides a ‘no excuses’ declaration that – “regardless of family income and background, students whose parents are involved in their schooling are more likely to have higher grades and test scores.”

Although responsibility is not accountability, regarding their children, parents are charged with both.[xliii]  There was a time in recent past, when parents consistently blamed teachers for their own shortcomings, irrationally holding teachers responsible and accountable, for their children’s social and academic outcomes.  In the final analysis, as guardians of their formative years, parents, whether they admit it or not, are accountable for their children’s success, and extrapolated, the status of current society as well as the future society their children will inhabit.  Economic growth is a generational responsibility, accountability is continuous – handed down from one generation to the other.  Germane and crucial is Gawron’s (2010)[xliv] admonition that “The equation of student success isn’t about who is to blame. Rather, it forces us to ask the question: how can each variable that involves us all, better do its part?”

Teacher Quality, Student Learning, and Teacher Training Programs in Context

Everyone acknowledges the importance of teacher quality to student success. The question of teacher effectiveness is central to investigations of student learning and achievement – teacher quality does count.[xlv]  The Center for Public Education defines effective teachers as “teachers who facilitate student learning and improve academic achievement for their students”[xlvi] Teacher quality studies are mixed with conclusions and explanations for understanding the wide range of performances found in the classroom.[xlvii] Most studies distinguish teacher quality as a vital determinant of student achievement and educational equity, and others look for the multi-faceted implications and impacts of input factors in questions of qualifications versus practices on student achievement.

Explanations for disparate teaching results include lack of experience, lack of an advanced degree in the content area being taught, ineffective teacher training programs, lack of continual rigorous professional development, absence of teacher authority/autonomy in the classroom as teaching is de-professionalized and factorized, and, the perception by some that ineffective pedagogic performance is attributable to the low academic and cognitive level of those who enter the teaching profession.[xlviii]

Gerald Le Tendre, a professor who regularly publishes on The Conversation’s website, recently wrote an article pertinent to Caribbean governments, proclaiming that “Simply raising the requirements for teacher certification, based on what has worked in some high-performing countries, is not effective. …  An effective policy requires changes at the level of teacher recruitment, teacher education and long-term support for professional development.”[xlix]  Teacher training programs are important in the evaluative framework for understanding fluctuating student performance and achievement and should be held accountable for teacher effectiveness.

 

PART III

The Future Workforce – Who Wins? Who Loses?  – Everyone Accountable

Access expansion to schooling has been emphasized through government policies and academic research based on a theory of positive linkages between schooling and the role of human capital in growth and development.  Data showing significant improvements in school attainment across the developing world in recent decades, resulted in an increased central role for improved schooling in the development strategies of most countries and international organizations[l], Caribbean countries included. However, education’s prominence on public and private agendas have become controversial since expansion of school attainment (longevity) has not guaranteed improved economic conditions.[li]  Hanushek’s research convincingly proves that access to schooling and formal school attainment does not equate to success, affirming that “It’s not just going to school, but learning something while there that matters”.  His finding disputes the efficacy of using average years of schooling as an indicator of a country’s human capital.  His study cites two major weaknesses to this conclusion: education benefit equality regardless of country and the misjudged importance of outside classroom learning.

The thesis that upgrades in human capital are not linked to how long you stay in school (graduate, post graduate, doctorate) but to what level your cognitive skills have been enhanced may permit a statistical analysis of the dumbing down of school quality – from Pre-K to PhD.  Remedial education at all levels is an undeniable reality. The K-12 school system is continually roiled by accountability reforms. Current accountability investigation and enforcement exposed the seamy underbelly of the American college system, forcing closure of not only education institutions themselves but also of their   evaluators who provided the accreditation cover for their operation. College degrees are now bought – not earned – as colleges put profit before learning quality. Our own tertiary education system is not immune to the seductive lure of profit in maintaining an institutional existence. Living on past student successes can only last so long as new revolutions restructure the landscape. Cries of accountability from voters and government leaders will become louder, forcing greater transparency[lii]

Cynthia Farrar, in explaining why Donald Trump doesn’t get his own immigration story notes that “Today’s tech-driven global economy tilts against upward mobility. Global competition creates jobs at the bottom of the ladder, rewards the highly skilled at the top, and squeezes out opportunities for less skilled workers to move up, whether they’re immigrants or citizens.” A&B has a population with many immigrants who want to contribute to the economy.  Globalization, when connected to knowledge workers in an information driven social media economy, preferences people with innovative ideas – where-ever they are, trumping size and so called “developed” status, as citizens in small states can be highly skilled workers with great economic multiplying power.

Layers of separation have allowed leaders – at all levels – to become disassociated with accountability. Stakeholders struggle to connect the dots and understand the co-dependency of education quality with production input factors and economic multipliers.  Ironically, we may be seeing a reversal of this trend as the technological age which ushered in social media allows readily accessible information/knowledge to be applied, analysed, synthesized and evaluated (Bloom’s taxonomy), more readily by the masses thereby levelling the playing field. The inequality engendered by education inequity has awakened a sleeping gigantic pool of people who feel cheated and are not going to take it anymore. Fair education opportunities are just as important as fair trade. Schumpeter’s predicted demise of capitalism due to rising inequality from education inequity and human capital disparity (worker skills) may still become a reality.

It is unacceptable for leaders to accept poor student performance results and pass the buck via claims of teacher shortages. [liii]  It is unacceptable to have sub-par teacher quality operating in classrooms.[liv] It is unacceptable for school systems to have old outdated curriculums, non-existent textbooks, and low-grade school infrastructure. It is unacceptable that education inequality grows as private school graduates demonstrate greater cognitive skills than their public-school counterparts. It is unacceptable that schools choose to unequally parcel out scarce resources based on inherent student capabilities to gain academic bragging rights. It is unacceptable when many school graduates cannot avail themselves of scholarships and almost half are unemployed.

Stakeholders that both impact and gain from school quality include parents, students, teachers, principals, workers, business owners, financiers, government leaders, education system workers (administration/support staff: primary/secondary/tertiary).  Quality education facilitates creation and growth of social and economic capital, ensures domestic security and stability (violence = recourse of the uneducated and unemployed), increased national self-esteem and pride, as thriving democracies with an educated population. Ordu and Ordu believe effective plans publicly communicate the vision, mission, goals, beliefs, values and objectives of a transparent school system and generates data that explain how the system holds itself accountable.  Unified plans which deliver quality education is a pathway for Caribbean countries to create economic multipliers, and despite global influences, become economic powerhouses.

Along with his insistence that twenty-first century knowledge workers develop their cognitive skills, manage themselves, and, have autonomy so as to create the human capital (workforce) demanded by todays’ market sectors, Peter Drucker presciently warned about a group he branded as “knowledge-worker cousins” or service workers. Drucker predicted, “a danger (when) … society become(s) a class society, unless service workers attain both income and dignity.”  Additionally, he noted, “Anyone can acquire the ‘means of production’, i.e., the knowledge required for the job, but not everyone can win.” A person’s capabilities (conceptual skills) can be both innate as well as learned.  Bloom explains how knowledge gets scaffolded – cognition begins as basic understanding and comprehension of a topic or subject matter, followed by application and analysis steps which strengthen a person’s hands-on awareness in real world scenarios, and finally, the synthesis and evaluation steps which solidify the learners understanding of how and why information learned is implemented in a specific industry or field.[lv]

Other common skills valued along with conceptual thinking include critical thinking, implementation thinking, innovative thinking and intuitive thinking.”  Human capital — the knowledge and skills that make people more productive — drives innovation.  Innovation in turn affects the return on investment in human capital, hence innovation is essential to economic growth. For a country to create wealth and economic opportunities for its citizens, all parts interconnect (education/economy/standard of living) as each sector become inputs for another, resulting in increased GDP (gross national product) facilitating the creation of an economic powerhouse.

The Prime Minister promises a proposed investment in call centres. These centres, as well as construction projects currently on the drawing board, will employ Drucker’s “knowledge-worker cousins”, many of whom are currently unemployed. They however, are not the innovative entrepreneurs that A&B will need to jumpstart an economic revolution. These knowledge workers must be developed in today’s restructured schools mandated to maximise their conceptual cognitive skills and transform them into economic multipliers, workers who innovate and boost entrepreneurship. The government currently provides scholarships to students who, if successful, can become future innovators, entrepreneurs and builders of an economic powerhouse, but we have too much potential being wasted at lower levels.

The Prime Minister has put his money where his mouth is by allocating the second largest budget funding purposed to advancing education in the nation. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology as well as the Board of Education have a responsibility to ensure the leader’s dream becomes a reality and is to be held accountable by we the people if it is not realized. On February 6, 2016, the Ministry of Education held an event aimed at combating years of declining student achievement, entitled Developing Global Citizens through Creative and Innovation Education initiative.[lvi] It promoted upgrades to students’ skills and abilities, and training educators “to use innovative, instructional strategies to create and teach a new curriculum that focuses on global issues”.

Of concern to the government is the perplexing rejection by public-school educators to utilize tuition free offers to attain a bachelor’s degree from either UWIOC or its partnership program with University of the Southern Caribbean. [lvii] Doing an objective assessment of the causes for rejection is a duty the government must undertake as evaluation of policies must be ongoing and open to change, to ensure effectiveness.

Private school teachers rail at their exclusion of government underwritten education training offers arguing that the entire society suffers when teacher effectiveness is not maximised, and students suffer when teacher quality is compromised. Private school owners and Board directors in A&B want government’s support to ensure private schools are the best they can be. The concerns of private schools cannot be swept under the rug as these institutions educate a substantial portion of the next generation. Voters must proactively demand effective implementation of a strategic plan that aligns everyone to a common vision for high quality schools – boards, teachers and principals – to guarantee maximum gains in cognitive skills for everyone, regardless of innate capabilities.

Everyone in Antigua and Barbuda is responsible for contributing to the creation of an economic powerhouse, everyone will be held accountable (to varying degrees) for making this dream a reality.  Not just the ruling party, the current prime minister or his cabinet, not just the current public and private bureaucracies or the current school boards, principals or teachers, not just current business men or workers, but all of us in our civil society.  Never forget, economic power houses work for everyone and are built and maintained by a well-educated workforce and an informed, caring and demanding electorate.  As of today, everyone holds each other accountable, respectfully challenging each other and doing his/her part to make our villages incubators for entrepreneurship.

 

The author can be reached at conbelach15@gmail.com


 

REFERENCES

[i] http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henrywadsw129800.html

[ii] Factors of production – Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factors_of_production#Neoclassical_economics

[iii] Read more: http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/encyclopedia/Inc-Int/Input-Output-nalysis.html#ixzz4OV1HfWVG

[iv] History of economic thought – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_economic_thought

[v] Read more: http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/encyclopedia/Inc-Int/Input-Output-Analysis.html#ixzz4OV8v4Yb8

[vi] (Mincer, 1981)  http://www.nber.org/papers/w0803.pdf

[vii] http://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/humancapital.asp

[viii] Creative destruction is a process through which something new brings about the demise of whatever existed before it. The term is used in a variety of areas including economics, corporate governance, product development, technology and marketing.

[ix] https://www.princeton.edu/~tleonard/papers/McCraw.pdfhttp://economics.mit.edu/files/1785http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/your-money/403b-teachers-annuities.html?ribbon-ad-idx=2&rref=your-money&module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Your%20Money&action=click&region=FixedRight&pgtype=article&_r=0

[x] http://cee.lse.ac.uk/conference_papers/28_11_2003/martin_weale.pdf

[xi] Input-Output Analysis – http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/encyclopedia/Inc-Int/Input-Output-Analysis.html

[xii] http://ac.els-cdn.com/S2212567115002580/1-s2.0-S2212567115002580-main.pdf?_tid=53702e86-a031-11e6-8055-00000aacb362&acdnat=1478004619_7ce381e679e5253ef9f64ca481518bdb

[xiii] http://hanushek.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Hanushek%202013%20EER%2037.pdf

http://hanushek.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Hanushek%2BWoessmann%202010%20IntEncEduc%202.pdf

[xv] Cognitive skills are the mental abilities a person uses to acquire and use knowledge. School students and work trainees use cognitive skills for development. Reasoning, perception and knowledge are three primary cognitive skills. Collectively, these abilities allow someone to learn from facts, logic, opinions and feelings.  https://www.reference.com/world-view/cognitive-skills-8783d32298465b76?qo=cdpArticles

[xvi] Hanushek’s research (2000, 2008, 2009)

[xvii] Hanushek et.al (2010),

[xviii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accountability

[xix] http://www.diffen.com/difference/Accountability_vs_Responsibility;

[xx] http://keydifferences.com/difference-between-responsibility-and-accountability.html; http://www.buildingfutureleaders.com/uploads/4/1/1/4/411493/the_difference_between_responsibility_and_accountability.pdf;

[xxi] http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/ED_new/pdf/LAC-GEM-2014-ENG.pdf, page 6, section 7.1

[xxii] http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/09/18/caribbean-quality-education-improvements-next-generationhttp://www.caribjournal.com/2016/05/22/education-in-the-caribbean/#;

[xxiii]  Seven Levels of Accountability for Student Success, By Sharon Riley Ordu, Ed.D. and P. Augustine Ordu, Ph.D., http://www.advanc-ed.org/source/seven-levels-accountability-student-success

[xxiv] http://www.advanc-ed.org/source/seven-levels-accountability-student-success

[xxv] https://everychildcanachieve.org/caribbean-islands.html

[xxvi] http://www.cxc.org/rethinking-education-in-the-caribbean/http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/ED_new/pdf/LAC-GEM-2014-ENG.pdf

[xxvii] Hackett, R. http://uwispace.sta.uwi.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2139/8864/Raymond%20Hackett11.pdf?sequence=1http://www.cxc.org/rethinking-education-in-the-caribbean/

[xxviii] Jules, Didacus (2016) http://www.cxc.org/rethinking-education-in-the-caribbean/

[xxix] http://www.caribjournal.com/2016/05/22/education-in-the-caribbean/#

[xxx] Ruby King, http://isis.uwimona.edu.jm/ioe/research/article8.htm;  https://everychildcanachieve.org/caribbean-islands.html

[xxxi] http://cullinanelaw.com/nonprofit-board-vs-executive-director/

[xxxii] http://grantspace.org/tools/knowledge-base/Nonprofit-Management/Boards/legal-duties-of-the-nonprofit-board

[xxxiii] http://www.nureva.com/blog/principals-a-key-to-student-successhttp://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Pages/key-responsibilities-the-school-principal-as-leader.aspx;

[xxxiv] http://www.nureva.com/blog/principals-a-key-to-student-success; http://educationnext.org/school-leaders-matter/

[xxxv] https://everychildcanachieve.org/caribbean-islands.html;  Ruby King  (1999) – https://www.educoas.org/Portal/bdigital/contenido/interamer/BkIACD/Interamer/Interamerhtml/Millerhtml/mil_king.htm

[xxxvi] “amount and progress of the teachers” Ruby King, 1999, (Errol Miller, 1992,1999), (CARICOM Report,1993) Ruby King

[xxxvii] http://educationnext.org/topics/

[xxxviii] Value-Added Modeling 101: Using Student Test Scores to Help Measure Teaching Effectiveness | RAND

http://www.rand.org/education/projects/measuring-teacher-effectiveness/value-added-modeling.html

[xxxix] http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/11/06/how-improve-teacher-turnover-rates?cmpid=tp-ptnr-huffpost

[xl] http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/2013/03/student_responsibility_for_learning_1.html

[xli] http://hanushek.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Hanushek%2BWoessmann%202010%20IntEncEduc%202.pdf

[xlii] (Henderson and Mapp, 2002); Wooden, Steven, “Correlation Between Parent Involvement and Student Success” (2010). Education Masters. Paper 101 – http://fisherpub.sjfc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1100&context=education_ETD_masters;   http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED536946.pdfhttp://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/kz_PB25keepingFSCcon.pdf; http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/parental-involvement-and-student-achievement-a-meta-analysis; http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/publications-series/family-involvement-research-digests; https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/what-research-says-about-parent-involvement/

[xliii] https://www.partnersinleadership.com/insights-publications/responsibility-vs-accountability/http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/2011/06/holding_parents_accountable_for_school_failure.htmlhttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/22/style/motherlode-whose-failing-grade-is-it-childs-or-parents.htmlhttp://www.teachingquality.org/content/blogs/john-holland/accountability-vs-responsibility-education;

[xliv] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-wolpertgawron/the-education-of-student-_b_789565.html

[xlv] http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teacher-quality-and-student-achievement-At-a-glance

[xlvi] https://www.breakthroughcollaborative.org/sites/default/files/Oct%202011%20Research%20Brief%20-%20Developing%20Teacher%20Effectiveness.pdf

[xlvii] http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/11/06/how-improve-teacher-turnover-rates?cmpid=tp-ptnr-huffpost

[xlviii] http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1167&context=etd ; http://www.ierinstitute.org/fileadmin/Documents/IERI_Monograph/IERI_Monograph_Volume_02_Chapter_02.pdf .  PD participation –  in regards to mathematics, Brown, Smith, & Stein, (1995); Cohen & Hill, (1977); Wiley & Yoon, (1995); in regard to language and mathematics, Angrist & Lavy, 2001, Wenglinsky (2000), Harris and Sass (2007), Jacob & Lefgren, (2004); National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (2010). Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers and Paine, S. & Schleicher, A. (2011) What the U.S. Can Learn From the World’s Most Successful Reform Efforts. McGraw‐Hill Research Foundation Policy Paper.

[xlviii] https://hbr.org/2014/10/what-peter-drucker-knew-about-2020 ; https://www.apa.org/ed/schools/cpse/teacher-preparation-programs.pdf

[xlix] http://theconversation.com/want-great-teachers-theres-no-one-size-fits-all-solution-63177

[l] http://hanushek.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Hanushek%202013%20EER%2037.pdf

[li] Hanushek (2013)   http://hanushek.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Hanushek%202013%20EER%2037.pdf.  Also see, for example, Easterly (2001) or Pritchett (2006).

[lii] University of West Indies agrees to appear before parliamentary committee | Antigua Observer Newspaper

http://antiguaobserver.com/university-of-west-indies-agrees-to-appear-before-parliamentary-committee/

[liii] http://antiguaobserver.com/education-officials-not-overly-concerned-over-csec-results/ ; http://antiguaobserver.com/education-minister-blasted-over-reaction-to-math-results/

[liv] http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Don-t-blame-teachers-alone_12337905; http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/shortage-of-trained-teachers-blamed-for-poor-csec-math-results; http://antiguaobserver.com/education-minister-explains-why-teacher-book-shortage/

[lv] https://www.reference.com/world-view/cognitive-skills-8783d32298465b76?qo=cdpArticles#

[lvi] http://antiguaobserver.com/ministry-launches-activities-for-education-week-2016/

[lvii] http://antiguaobserver.com/education-minister-appeals-to-teacher-to-upgrade-qualifications/ ; http://antiguaobserver.com/director-of-education-says-barbuda-is-not-neglected/; http://antiguaobserver.com/education-minister-says-he-has-set-in-train-salary-raise-talks-for-teachers/

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