Published On: Mon, Feb 4th, 2013

The education conundrum

Education is the most effective tool to break the cycle of poverty. Unfortunately, those who stand to gain the most from education--- the poor and destitute--- are also most vehemently against it.
Recently a local island politician introduced a bill in parliament known as the 80/20 bill. If adopted and signed into law, companies will have to employ a minimum of 80% locally born workers and only a maximum of 20% nonlocals. So far, the bill was adopted but never signed into law since it was in violation with the Constitution which guarantees equal rights and treatment for all legal citizens on the island.

The bill also ignored that skills and training do not automatically spout from a birth location or even genetic inheritance. After all, skills are acquired from education. Unfortunately, education and training sufficiently satisfying market demand is lacking on the island.
Consequently, either a business enterprise will close down or relocate to where skilled labor is available at a market competitive rate. Des-investment is not desirable for the local economy though. The solution seems blatantly apparent, improve local government offered education and training.

But the educational system appears stuck in eternally ongoing union negotiation quibbles for teachers and school staff interest, while the interest of the child plays a second fiddle. Corporate demands are ignored all together. To add insult to injury, instruction language in Papiamento is mandatory by law, though insufficient instruction material is available and production of such is prohibitively expensive.

The language of the internet and the international world is English and if students are not at least somewhat self-taught, they soon find themselves ostracized from the rest of the virtual world. Even vocational training elopes popularity amongst students since it is looked down upon as a form of slavery.

As first glance it appears impossible to solve this conundrum.
One cannot transform the fossils of a mammoth into a dancing circus elephant, but the market appears to be self-correcting somewhat. In the ’80’s and ‘90’s similar enigmas confronted the market with postal services around the world. The Government utility postal companies died but courier services, like Fedex and DHL, and free email providers, like Gmail and Yahoo, blossomed.
Today on the island, many students realize the poor outlook for their futures and eagerly migrate elsewhere, causing the island’s headache of an ongoing brain drain since less than 10% ever returns.

A much more promising escape from the island’s poverty is for the student who is ready to obtain company certificates. These certificates are readily offered by many companies in different industries from hospitality, heavy industry, airlines to e-commerce. Hilton, Sheraton, Hyatt were pioneers in their fields, airline companies with KLM in the lead set up their own cabin training programs and Microsoft produced a large variety of sophisticated computer skill certificates. The oil industry in Curacao has its own standards and training programs.

Many of the company certificates, as well as lesser specific and more general education programs can also be obtained by virtual education. At no cost or very low cost, on line courses with graduation certificates are readily available from a wide variety of suppliers.
So, there is no need to wait till the government educational facilities turn into fossils.
Students and local companies, please quit the waste of time on an education of yesteryears and come aboard a new vehicle of great adventure and promise in the future. Get on line!

Click Tag(s) for Related Articles: