Fitzgerald Chairs Education Ministers Action Group in London
The EMAG was convened at the Commonwealth Secretariat to put strategies in place and to execute the Nassau Declaration on Education for the 53 Member countries of the Commonwealth. .
Number one on the agenda was creating an all-across the board definition of quality education and what is means in relation to the education and academic outcomes for the Commonwealth.
“Quality is the key issue for us, we are going to define what quality means for us in education so that we can bench mark and hold ourselves accountable for that. At the end of the day, we have seen where research from the OECD has shown that in regards to the Millennium Development Goals, we have had an increase in access so there are many more millions of children in school who were not in school before”, stated Minister Fitzgerald.
Minister Fitzgerald said that the EMAG has a very aggressive agenda and once plans are implemented, they are focused on being able to measure results of their work. He explained that there have been efforts to integrate technology and access, but this has not translated into stronger academics.
“But despite both of those there has not been a correlation between access and technology and the improvement in academic outcomes. So therein is the challenge. So the focus now is not just ensuring we have children in classes and ensuring that we have technology to drive education outcomes, but we focus on quality and what that means and how we can ensure that we can maximize the resources we put into education and that there is a correlation between the resources we put in and our outcomes,” said Minister Fitzgerald.
Minister Fitzgerald also participated in another meeting with advisors of the Commonwealth Health and Education and Technical Assistance Units to discuss the provision of technical assistance to the Government to address the issues facing at-risk boys and their under-achievement in The Bahamas. Dr. Robin Roberts, Urologist, also participated in the meeting and brought a health perspective to the issue, which calls for a multi-sectoral approach.
The College of The Bahamas was tasked by the Right Honourable Prime Minister to look at this critical issue and to advise the Government on policies measures to address it; Minister underscored that issues affecting young people is a major challenge for The Bahamas, and is of utmost concern and top priority to the Prime Minister.
“Particularly the risk of young men and the challenges that they are posing to us as governments and communities particularly with violent crime and crimes in general being idol and the fact that there are jobs available in our countries but that our workforce are not prepared for those jobs either by skill or by the level of education. And the challenge is of course closing that gap, making education relevant working with the private sector, those who are in industry, to see if we need to adjust our curriculum, what we need to do is encourage our young people to understand the value of education and direct them in areas where there are jobs for them and they can make a dignified living and contribute to the national development of their countries,” stated Minister Fitzgerald.
The proposed project called Engaging Boys for Active Citizenship: Addressing Educational Achievement for Healthy Lifestyles seeks to address the target risks for boys’ underachievement from the perspective of the individual, the family, the community and society and the political and economic policies.
Minister of Education, the Hon Jerome Fitzgerald with Commonwealth Education ministers and Commonwealth Secretariat officials
Minister Fitzgerald at the headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat chairing the Education Ministers Action Group
Commonwealth Secretary General, Mr Kamalesh Sharma, Minister Fitzgerald and Bahamas High Commissioner, His Excellency Eldred Bethel.
Left to right - Her Excellency Mrs Felleng Mamakeka Makeka, High Commissioner of Lesotho, Minister Fitzgerald, High Commissioner Bethel and Her Excellency Mrs Marie-Pierre Lloyd, High Commissioner of Seychelles
Left to right – Minister Fitzgerald, Mr Joel Burman, Adviser, Technical Assistance Unit and Ms Amina Osman, Education Adviser, Health and Education at the Commonwealth Secretariat and Dr Robin Roberts, Director of the University of The West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research and the chairman of The Bahamas Medical Council’s Education and Assessment Committee