– Free movement of skills among major issues on agenda
The seventeenth meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), which is being held here today and tomorrow under the theme “Accelerating the Implementation of the Education Agenda,” will zero in on one of many aspects of the education sector.
Assistant Caricom Secretary-General for Human and Social Development, Dr. Edward Greene, has said that this forum will focus particularly on the implementation of the education agenda over the last 10 years.
He added that the COHSOD really came into effect as a new mechanism within the Community in 1997, and held its first meeting in 1998.
“So this is now literally 10 years, and we are now reviewing and looking at the status of the implementation of the education agenda,” Greene noted.
Among the prominent matters in this COHSOD meeting, he explained, would be an assessment of the achievements, a look at some of the unfulfilled issues, and how to move towards accomplishing those things.
“We are looking in particular at Free Movement, and we are looking at the issues related to the Caribbean Vocational Qualification which is a new mechanism for assessing the skills which would assist also in the movement of people with skills below that of degrees and those that are not cultural workers.”
Greene told this newspaper that at this meeting they will also be dealing with the collaboration that is being fostered between the tertiary educational institutions, such as the universities.
He noted that the Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies has, over the last couple of years, been promoting the need for collaboration among the institutions, and this has begun with various activities among the universities.
“So what we will get is an update of what has happened, and what the proposals are for actually ensuring that there is greater collaboration among the tertiary education institutions.”
He pointed out that one of the things that they have been looking at in recent times is how to improve the network of communication among the various educational levels, and there is a mechanism or initiative, called Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network, “which is really a system dealing with the interconnection at the level of the Internet, web-based and satellite.”
This, he added, would drive the type of collaboration there is in terms of curriculum development and sharing of information among the tertiary level institutions, to start with.
“But it also has to do with improving what is now called “e-knowledge” — how you learn and promote education in terms of the Internet communications.”
Greene stated that the COHSOD meeting will also be dealing with the Science and Technology Policy Programme. “This is actually something that was introduced way back in the late ‘90s by former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell when he offered a strategy. Things take a little longer than you would like to materialize, but at the moment there is a group moving towards the harmonization of Science and Technology Policy, and in fact we will be learning at this COHSOD what are some of those major issues.”
He added that there is also a very interesting presentation which has to do with the future of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).
“We look forward to that presentation because CXC is pivotal, it is one of the institutions that we have built over the last 35 years and which has been a significant contribution to the educational development in the region.”
Greene noted that they will start the council on this occasion with a keynote panel discussion on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and its implications for the educational sector.
“Now, this is really very important, because we have had a fair amount of controversy bordering on misunderstanding about this EPA, and it is important for Ministers of Education and their technical staff to have a notion of exactly what are some of the opportunities available to them and also what are the challenges we will have.”
According to Greene, one of the experts from the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Mechanism together with a representative from the European Union (EU) and Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation, Dr Henry Jeffrey, will be on that introductory panel to help to “tease out” some of those issues that are of concern to people who are in education.
He indicated that there are a host of other items on the agenda, and that the meeting has attracted about 16 Ministers of Government from throughout the region.
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