Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Education Ministers met in Guyana, Friday, with much of their attention focused on a Human Resource Development strategy to meet the Region’s requirements for its 21st century economy and society.
The Ministers, joined by senior education officials and other regional education stakeholders at the Thirty-second Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), were scheduled to examine the CARICOM Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy and Action Plan ahead of its submission to the Heads of Government in July.
The draft Strategy is the work of a CARICOM Human Resource Development Commission, mandated by CARICOM Heads, and comprising leading experts in Education and Training, along with representatives of the Region’s private sector, labour, health, ICT and youth. It is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education of St. Kitts-Nevis Mr. Shawn Richards.
CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in addressing the meeting’s Opening Ceremony noted that the Strategy’s proposal for action on range of concerns, Among them, hot-button issues such as male participation in education, skills required for Twenty-First century demands, the use of technology within the learning environment, and capitalizing on the region’s innate creative skill to ensure it becomes a medium for personal and regional development. He stressed the critical importance of moving science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics from concepts to becoming a real practical outcome of the education experience for life skills.
“The importance of getting this Strategy right cannot be overstated. The preparation of our young minds to confront the challenges and accept the opportunities, in the ever evolving global environment is one of our primary tasks,” the Secretary-General stated.
“The quality and depth of our human capital is what will drive our development and propel the Community towards the sustainable, viable and prosperous society that we seek. It can be our bulwark against the ills that are threatening to upset our social order,” he added.
Chairman of COHSOD, the Education Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Mr. St. Clair Prince in addressing the Opening spoke to the importance of a strong focus on social values:
“Decent jobs for all and a future-focused highly skilled workforce are not the only prospects we have for a CARICOM Region by 2030,” he noted.
“Our Region recognizes that as our Member States individually and collectively aspire towards building modern developed societies by investing in HRD, equal attention must be placed on values-based education by concentrating on the development of morality, ethics and spiritual consciousness in what is being learned at all levels of the system.
Chancellor of the University of Guyana and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and former Chairman of CXC, Professor Nigel Harris, in remarks to the Ceremony cautioned that the challenge for the draft HRD strategy may be ‘to get the buy-in, enthusiasm, financial resources and sustained interest of the many countries involved,’ but he emphasized the need to reach the many undeserved communities which he said account for many of the adverse outcomes affecting the society.
“…a critical element of success of this Strategic Paper will depend on our governments emphasizing the need to mobilise the interest and enthusiasm of deprived communities which lack the stable family structures, the economic and other support factors necessary for the full intellectual and emotional growth of their young people,” he said.
The work on the Human Resource Development Strategy is receiving financial and technical support from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)