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Exploring the context of Education

Miller, Errol.
1997. Education for All in the Caribbean. Caribbean Journal of Education 19 (1): 1–35.

A review of progress in the Caribbean context in achieving the goals specified in the Framework for Action of the World Declaration of Education for All (EFA), Jomtien, Thailand, March 1990. It identifies the constraints faced by the region in the effort to implement programmes and projects to achieve the EFA goals, and further, determines if there were unanticipated developments since Jomtien to which the Caribbean had to respond. In light of the progress, constraints, and new developments, identifies issues facing the region and examines these in relation to the outcomes of the mid-decade review sponsored in 1996 by the International Consultative Forum on Education for All, which was charged with overseeing the implementation of EFA.

———. 1998. Feminization of elementary school teaching in the Commonwealth Caribbean. In Institute of Education annual, vol. 1, ed. Ruby King, pp. 3–42. Kingston, Jamaica: Institute of Education, UWI, Mona.

Miller analyses and attempts to explain gender changes since emancipation. In the immediate post-emancipation period, the public elementary teaching force was predominantly male while the private system was exclusively female. Generally, between the late 1800s and the middle 1900s, the pattern across the region shifted to a female public teaching force. The system has since remained feminized.

Miller presents the Caribbean situation against the backdrop of a similar pattern of feminization in Western Europe and North America at roughly the same time. The feminization process was achieved by altering the structure of opportunity in the society, a dominant-group strategy to maintain dominance when threatened by a subordinate group. The males of dominant groups form alliances with younger women of the subordinate groups, promoting them in the public sphere over their male counterparts, thereby delaying fundamental change in the relative positions of dominant and subordinate groups.

Despite changes in the composition of the ruling elites in the Caribbean and greater access of the marginal majority to public education, Miller sees the strategy of manipulating the structure of opportunity still in operation. It is embedded in the policies and strategies shaping access to social mobility opportunities through education.

———. 1999a. Commonwealth Caribbean education: An assessment. In Educational reform in the Commonwealth Caribbean, ed. Errol Miller, pp. 291–315. Washington, DC: Organization of American States.

In the final chapter of the book, Miller:

· Assesses educational reforms in the Commonwealth Caribbean in the independence period (defined as the 1950s to mid-1970s)

· Classifies the majority of the reforms of the 1990s

· Relates the trajectory and content of reforms to the global wave of educational reform

· Draws conclusions about the reform process in Jamaica

The independence period reforms aimed at removing discrimination and equalizing all opportunities for upward social mobility. Favourable economic circumstances facilitated truly impressive achievements, but the goal remained distant for a majority of the poor in the changed economic circumstances of the late 1970s. The 1990s reforms responded to fundamental global changes: Caribbean territories largely followed their own imperatives, either developing comprehensive reform programmes or addressing particular aspects of the system through externally funded projects. For the twenty-first century, the greatest hope for the Anglophone Caribbean seems to lie in restructuring its reforms around information technology and human resource development.

———. 1999b. Commonwealth Caribbean education in the global context. In Educational Reform in the Commonwealth Caribbean, ed. Errol Miller, pp. 3–24. Washington, DC: Organization of American States.

Miller begins with the historical context, noting that the Caribbean region was not bypassed in the waves of global educational reforms in the last two decades and that a steady stream of reforms also characterized the pre-1980s period. For education in the region, inaugurated by Britain, the major ideas were derived from the Protestant Reformation. Education has evolved over four major eras: education as endowment, as denominational, as state/church, and as national systems. What has emerged from the impact of a British-based education on a culturally mixed and predominantly black population is peculiar to the Commonwealth Caribbean, defying attempts to fit it neatly into the global definition of third world, its educational achievements and perspectives sometimes appearing to fit more comfortably into the first world. Its inauguration and subsequent reforms have left enduring institutions within the system. In the meantime, educational reforms in each have been used to serve as means to different ends. A major issue remains the outcome that education and schooling are likely to have at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first.

———. 1999c. Educational reform in independent Jamaica. In Educational reform in the Commonwealth Caribbean, ed. Errol Miller, pp. 199–253. Washington, DC: Organization of American States.

The period of Jamaican independence is divided into two eras, the populist era and the era of structural adjustment, each with its own achievement. The populist refers to government by elected representatives of the mass of the people operating under new constitutional powers, 1953–late 1970s. Reforms addressed the agenda for social change of the marginal majority, focusing on nation building, expanding access, equality of opportunity, and nationalism/regionalism. Miller concludes that progress was substantial even though the strategy in several areas was to retain the essence of the colonial system, substituting nationals for colonials. Structural adjustment, 1977 to the present, sees elected representatives constrained by external bilateral and multilateral agencies. Reforms addressed the interests of the reconstituted minority groups. (An exception was one reform initiated by a solely private organization, the Jamaica Computer Society.) Reforms of the populist era were predicated on positive values, while those of the structural adjustment era suffered from the negativism of the period. Economically and politically, the uncertainty that marks the period makes it difficult to predict future educational direction.

———. 1999d. Out-of-school youth: A review of Jamaican studies. In Caribbean adolescents and youth: Contemporary issues in personality and behaviour, ed. Arthur G. Richardson, pp. 189–229. New York: Caribbean Diaspora Press.

Focuses on studies of Caribbean youth and investigates concerns common to youth worldwide and on the relationships between these concerns and being out of school. Out-of-school youths are broadly defined as youths of school age who are not in school. The 23 studies identified are grouped and reviewed under the headings:

  • Determinants of schooling and dropout
  • Drug usage and abuse
  • Youths and the labour market
  • Adolescent sexuality and fertility
  • Street children

The findings taken together reveal that major factors contributing to youths being out of school are the high cost of schooling for poor families, low achievement of adolescents, and the failure of the school to meet students’ needs. The majority of out-of-school children desire to return to school. A strong link exists between the high fertility rate of adolescent girls and depressed economic circumstances. These young mothers are the main source of children-at-risk.

———. 2000. Access to tertiary education in the Commonwealth Caribbean in the 1990s. In Higher education in the Caribbean: Past, present and future directions, ed. Glenford D. Howe, pp. 117–41. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.

Kingston, Jamaica: Institute of Education, UWI, Mona.

Tertiary education is defined as the level of education requiring mastery of basic and general education as a prerequisite. The chapter gives historical sketches of schooling universally, and then of tertiary education in the Commonwealth Caribbean during the post-war and post-independence periods. Despite substantial progress in correcting the historic under-provision of access to tertiary education since the 1940s, gains have been modest compared with the rest of the hemisphere. Only Barbados achieved 20 percent or more access in the following decade, the goal set by CARICOM prime ministers in their Montego Bay Declaration in 1977, which was, however, below the norms for the hemisphere. Affordability, class or race, place of residence, and gender create the greatest barriers to access for lower-class black and Indian males from rural areas, out islands, and multi-island states.

Miller assesses Caribbean efforts up to 1996 to achieve Education for All (EFA), the mandate of the World Conference on Education for All, Jomtien, Thailand, March 1990. He

· Reviews progress made in achieving the goals set

· Identifies constraints to the implementation of programmes and projects, while determining any unanticipated developments

· Identifies and examines issues facing the region in the 1996 mid-decade review conducted in 1996

Sixteen of the twenty points the Caribbean submitted as concerns of the region were incorporated in the EFA documents at Jomtien. Six years later, Caribbean countries had not only engaged in massive educational reform and planning but had also begun implementation, setting their own goals and targets within the context of previous achievements. Miller argues that this impetus came from the Caribbean region’s own conviction that educational reform was crucial for survival.

Major constraints were the internal and external indebtedness of the region states, which severely restricted substantial new investments in education, and failure to pool ideas and resources across the region.

———. 2001. Gender, power and politics: An alternative perspective. In Gender, peace and conflict, ed. Inger Skjelsbaek and Dan Smith. London: International Peace Institute and Sage Publishers.

This theoretical study conceptualizes gender as the sexual division of power, embedding it in other social structures, which form society, including patriarchy, and it undergoes change along with these structures. Patriarchy, the organizing principle of civil society in antiquity, with the family the unit, saw political power vested in the older male, rooted in genealogy. Political and social understandings were transformed as civil society emerged as the nation state, with the individual as citizen becoming its unit of social organization. Constant tension exists between the old values of civil society and the new values of the nation state, and the dominant group manipulates patriarchy in specific ways to maintain its dominance. Gender becomes less important than political and social superiority now, as men and women act in solidarity to maintain dominance of their particular group.

———. 2002a. Education/Training and the new workplace: Some introductory remarks. In Human Resource Development and workplace governance in the Caribbean, ed. Noel Cowell and Clement Branche, pp. 37–43. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers.

Miller claims that the relationships between education and the new workplace are neither simple nor straightforward. Job and workplace no longer necessarily share common locations in the new, globalized economies in which workers can be simultaneously hired by several employers and work from untraditional places, including their homes. While the dichotomy between education and training appears to be receding, environmental factors might fuel the development of rival institutions challenging schools. The Caribbean could enhance its position in the new workplace by catching up with the rest of the world in the provision of tertiary education, which Miller posits as having the highest social rate of return in the twenty-first century.

———. 2002b. Retaining boys in school: Developing a model of intervention. In Institute of Education annual, vol. 3, ed. Hyacinth Evans, pp. 29–64. Kingston, Jamaica: Institute of Education, UWI, Mona.

The results of an action research to address the problems of (at-risk) underachieving, inner-city boys who drop out of school. Information gained from at-risk boys who had attended a two-year YMCA Youth Development Programme, from their teachers, and from contrasting their school programmes with that of the YMCA, was used to develop strategies for a model of intervention in the formal school system. Six strategies addressing the six major factors identified were developed.

The model was implemented in two inner-city schools and the outcome assessed, using the dropout rate of the boys selected. Several problems affected the intervention, creating the impression that it was unsuccessful. Some of these enabled the researcher to gain insights into the serious and sensitive nature of the difficulties that need to be addressed before any attempt is made at providing solutions.

 
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