Keynote speaker Didacus Jules: “Failure in education is systemic”

POSTED: 07/2/14 11:09 PM

St. Maarten – Everything is connected to everything, so there must be a whole-system approach to education,” keynote speaker Didacus Jules, director general of the organization of Eastern Caribbean States said at the governor’s symposium Education for Democracy on Monday at the Westin.

“Caribbean countries have made tremendous strides in education,” Jules said. “But changes are exponential and the challenges are huge. It is not about how fast you run in a race. If others run faster, you are still falling behind.”

Jules mentioned the “unprecedented unemployment” among youngsters that results in “rising levels of hopelessness” among a generation that is unprepared for its future.

The failure in education is systemic, Jules noted. “This is not the failure of individual candidates.” The data the speaker presented to substantiate his position are worrisome, to say the least. Of the eligible cohorts, only 40 percent enters for CSEC-exams (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate). Only English and math are done by almost everyone and only half of the 40 percent that enters the exams will make it.

In the group of 40 percent, 66 percent only does two subjects, 12 percent does 3 or 4 and 22 percent does 5 or more subjects.

“All this creates a huge demographic of unskilled people. There is a lot of anger among the dropouts. Hence the crime rate,” Jules said.

There is also a migration problem. Of candidates with an education between 10 to 40 percent have migrated away from their country of origin. In some countries this migration percentage is as high as 70 percent.

The role of education for democracy is significant, Jules notes. “In the ultimate democracy there is respect for the minority and civilized acceptance of differences.”

Jules ended with a quote from Rosa Luxemburg: “Freedom only for the members of the government, only for the members of the party – though they are quite numerous – is no freedom at all.”


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Comments (1)


  1. Bravo says:

    I am sure the speaker was convinced that his end quote is at the center of Caribbean democratic contradictions. As one who experienced the struggles of the late 70’s to mid 80’s, it was clear to me that Education was embraced as part of the process. The failing after the changing of the guard (regional dictatorship) is the denial of broad peoples participation of the educated class which was emerging but an introduction of what I would term intellectual victimisation. The merit in the quote can be seen in the fact that the emerging generation of the 90’s onwards have not truly exoerienced democracy without discrimination. Mr Speaker I salute your bravery. Are we now going to admit to this failure and seriously engage in dualogue to end this bitternes which is already shaming us as a people.