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Straight to the Point: Dr. Shorey’s contributions

7/4/2010

By John Blackman

This writer is dedicating today’s discourse to a fellow columnist who has recently put his pen aside after decades of insightful and informative contribution to the local press, mainly the Advocate. Dr. Leonard Shorey has completed a marathon assignment informing and educating readers both here and abroad of critical issues

Although he was a teacher with a profound grasp of the local education system, his essays were not restricted to the narrow field of his profession, but extended far beyond its parameters. He was equally at home discussing co-education as he was expressing his disgust over the infelicities of the Bush Administration concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But perhaps, he was at his best defending the values and mores of the lasting virtues such as empathy, industry, integrity, loyalty, and punctuality. These qualities made Barbados numero uno among developing countries of the world providing it with a standard of living comparable to some developed nations. He interpreted a compromise of these virtues as a degenerate step leading towards the downfall of the wider society and a threat to wholesome family life.

His column revealed him as a champion for high standards and the nemesis of mediocrity. Two years ago, there was great concern about the number of students leaving secondary schools without any certification. In order to correct this situation, the Ministry of Education in conjunction with CXC proposed that a certificate be made available to all students from third form level that would ensure that more students leave the secondary school system with some sort of certification.

In the Advocate of October 5, 2008, Dr. Shorey responded: “This statement is very worrying indeed. For example, what ‘skills’ will a ‘certificated’ third former have and what will be the value of any such certificate. Worse still, CXC came up with the absolutely preposterous idea that students scoring more than 74 per cent in this exam would be called ‘Masters of Competencies’. It is difficult to think of a more absurd and ridiculous idea, for CXC ‘Masters of Competencies’ would be entitled to feel that they had achieved something of outstanding merit only to find that their certificate is unlikely to be worth the paper on which it is printed.”

However, in order to do justice to Dr. Shorey’s contribution to education, this writer must refer to the seminal work of the Committee chaired by him, which presented a Report on The Transfer from Primary to Secondary Education in Barbados in 1974. Some of the recommendations of that Report have already been adopted while the National Advisory Commission on Education (2008-2010) has repeated others

Those adopted include:

1. The raising of the school leaving age from 14 to 16. (Page 66-paragraph 221 1981 Education Act.

2. Equal salaries for Principals and Deputy Principals in all secondary schools.) Page 66-paragraph 172 (11) – Achieved in 1980

3. Equal school administration for both older and newer secondary schools (Page 61-paragraphs 194 to 197) – 1981 Education Act.

4. Part 2 of the Common Entrance Examination to be discontinued and transfer be made on a single examination (Page 44- paragraph 117) – Implemented in 1975.

Those recommendations repeated by NACE this year include:

1. Every effort should be made to avoid too wide inequalities in the size of secondary schools. (Page 56-paragraph 173) NACE has proposed 800 students per school...

2. We ought to offer equal education opportunities to all our children. (Page 59-paragraphs 183 and 184). NACE has proposed sixth forms for all secondary schools.

Dr. Shorey’s contribution is indeed incalculable, and he was fittingly awarded the Gold Crown of Merit for his golden services to education and Barbados.

VIVA DON LEONARDO.

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