Moving forward in education 26 Oct 2008

“Moving forward in education…”

For me, the year 2005 was a memorable year for many reasons.  Among the reasons was the level of global campaigning on poverty – especially in the UK where I was at the time.  There were rallies in Trafalgar Square in London and Edinburgh in Scotland. 

On July 2nd, I remember jumping on a train from Peterborough and met my buddy Marcus Jardine and his family on the way to Scotland.  The rally is said to have attracted some 225 000 people – it was an amazing experience as we joined such a positive expression of hope. 

The global summits in 2005 were built upon one in September 2000, where world leaders came together at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration.  The background for this project can be found at 

This declaration was a commitment to a global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and set out a series of time-bound targets – with a deadline of 2015 – that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals. US Tax Singapore

I recently started chatting with my friend Tamara Brathwaite about these 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Of course, the conversation steered towards how Trinidad and Tobago are doing.  Not that we are experts, mind you, but after some thought, we concluded that the MDGs were considered, and to some extent, were incorporated into the Vision 2020 framework.

Tamara and I decided to focus on education in our discussion. Education is covered under the second Millennium Development Goal, which goes on to say that –

“…Better education is fundamental to the prospects for economic and social development and the end of world poverty. ‘Toward Universal Primary Education’ offers a rigorous set of interventions that countries can choose from to help provide universal access to high-quality education by focusing on hard-to-reach groups of people, educating girls and women to break the cycle of low education and strengthening educational opportunities for adolescents.”

In Vision 2020, education is considered under ‘Developing Innovative People.’ This section goes onto say that –

“…Increasingly, globalising economies are recognizing the importance of developing the creativity and innovation of their people and nurturing a society in which opportunities for life-long learning exist…  With respect to educational performance, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago have many opportunities.  Universal primary and secondary education accounts for a 97.5% youth literacy rate and a 93.8% adult literacy rate.”

The Vision 2020 document then went on to cite some statistics from the now-famous Global Competitiveness Report. So I decided to look at how our rankings for 2004 – 2005 compared to 2008 – 2009. In terms of education, the following jumped out at me –

  • Internet access in schools was 78 out of 104; now, 72 out of the 134 countries ranked.
  • The availability of scientists and engineers was 73 out of 104; now, 55 out of the 134 countries ranked.
  • Quality of the education system was 64 of 104; now, 42 out of the 134 countries ranked.

The report was a mixed one, and the areas in which we did not score well have been the subject of much discussion.  I just thought it was interesting to highlight some of the areas we are doing well, according to this Global Competitiveness Report. 

So for 2008 – 2009, here are some of the areas in which Trinidad and Tobago is deemed to have a competitive advantage –

  • The strength of auditing and reporting standards was 45 out of 134 countries ranked.
  • Quality of primary education was 50 out of 134 countries ranked.
  • Quality of math and science education was 43 out of 134 countries ranked.
  • Quality of management schools was 37 out of 134 countries ranked.

For me, this confirms what Tamara was saying about Millennium Development Goal number 2 – we are considered to be doing relatively well when it comes to education.

I was pointed to a website that is intended to actively involve the Youth of Trinidad and Tobago in the advocacy of the United Nations’ affairs, with specific reference to the Millennium Development Goals.  It is from – a group ‘for’ and ‘by’ young people.

It is good to acknowledge and encourage our young, future leaders’ positive work as we move towards Vision 2020. 

Note: The above reference link was live on December 2010, but it has since been taken down.

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