The thrust to improve the education on every level is continuous and the majority of Barbadians can boast of at least a secondary education. Our ancestors believed that with knowledge comes power and with that, education has always been at the forefront of Barbados’ development. Therefore, one becomes concerned when communication begins to breakdown within the population because Standard English is not standard anymore.
This challenge became stark when some members of the educated circle touted that our dialect was nothing to be ashamed of and it should be
encouraged. While this may be true, and we encourage our countrymen to embrace that which is naturally theirs, we must be careful to remind our youth – particularly those who are still in the early stages of development – that we need to be able to communicate with those whose indigenous language is not ‘Bajan’. This warning is also valid for all age groups who use ‘text language’ on a daily basis. For some, the lines have become so blurred when using this form of communication that it filters into formal situations. It is clear that the call to use the technologies and interests of the youth to educate them was answered. We all understand that education is of utmost importance, but the vehicles for delivering this education must be carefully analysed and vetted so that we can benefit fully from the them.
Several years ago, the stated mission of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, was that there should be ‘a university graduate in every household’ by a certain timeline. While, on the surface, this objective seems admirable, one wonders how this slogan can be relevant in our society if the graduates are not going to be active users of Standard English nor can they express themselves at a level that justifies their graduate status? This gives justification to the comments that we run a risk of ‘dumbing down’ and devaluing our tertiary education.
Therefore, the teaching, as well as the use of this necessary language must be done even more rigorously from at least primary level and actively encouraged throughout secondary and tertiary levels if we are to expect a marked improvement in our communities, and throughout the various levels within the working environment. A dismal picture of Barbadians’ grasp for the English Language is inadvertently painted when prominent members of
society speak in public fora and their command of the language is faulty. Like other countries, Bajan dialect will always be present, but there is a time and place for dialect which does not include formal or public occasions where everyone of varying educational backgrounds is expected to understand. We expect children to use dialect naturally and even text language, but they should understand, from early, when and where it may be used.
The technology that we use daily should be used in the building of our education, especially oral education. This is in contrast to the constant warnings regarding the damaging effects of technology when children are not supervised. Technology can be a valuable asset to everyone if used to build rather than to destroy. The Barbados Advocate
previously commented on the untapped advantages of technology and encouraged that it be properly supervised and taught in an environment where children can be entertained and at the same time encouraged to learn.
The marriage between technology and the education of various subjects is full swing in Barbados. The fear of technology will become a thing of the past as we build on our understanding.