In a world that has become more globalized and continues to be very dynamic in nature, it is important for the people of St. Kitts-Nevis to position themselves to be competitive in the global environment. This means that it is important that they acquire the knowledge, skills, and personal attributes necessary to operate and survive in an ever-changing world. Integral to this process is our education system, and the people this system is designed to develop. CARICOM leaders in a similar vein of thinking would have created and adopted the concept of the “Ideal Caribbean Person” which aims to position our people in the most advantageous position globally. According to Underwood(2015), “CARICOM leaders adopted the description of the ” Ideal Caribbean Person” as a person who has a strong appreciation of family and kinship values, community cohesion, and moral issues including responsibility for and accountability to self and community, has an informed respect for the cultural heritage, demonstrates multiple literacies independent and critical thinking, questions the beliefs , brings this to bear on the innovative application of science and technology and to problem solving, demonstrates a positive work ethic, and values and displays the creative imagination in its various manifestations and to contribute to the health and welfare of the community and country.”
Education in St. Kitts-Nevis is arguably the most important sector responsible for cultivating the competencies necessary to be the Ideal Caribbean Person. Three ways in which this can be achieved are creating a national philosophy of education and a national education plan accommodating the competencies, adjusting our assessment methods and adopting practices that reflect a true measurement of the competencies and ensure they associate with global trends, and making learning more fun and engaging through integrated technology and real-life situations in the various subject areas.
The process of educating our people is dependent on several variables and factors, and thus a national education philosophy and education plan will ensure that these elements work in agreement to achieve the desirable outcomes. A philosophy of education may be defined as a statement of beliefs and understanding of an individual or group with respect to education, while an education plan is a plan of action based on research and is underlined by your education philosophy which aims to develop and implement policies, programs, and practices to advance your education agenda. As it relates to the federation of St. Kitts-Nevis, it is important that our philosophy of education and national education plan are aligned and corresponding with the competencies associated with the ideal Caribbean person concept. This simply means that in pursue of our goals of using education to cultivate the competencies necessary to be the Ideal Caribbean Person, the management of our education system, our curriculum development, teaching methodologies, and student learning processes must all be geared towards creating the Ideal Caribbean Person.
In the article, Rethinking education in the Caribbean (2015) it was stated that “if Caribbean education is to produce the Ideal Caribbean Person and that person should have the ability to learn, to be, to do, and live together, then assessment processes must reflect these competencies and attributes.” In the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis for the most part in the history of our formal education system, assessment and evaluation of our students’ education abilities have been done through standardize tests and exams which require students mostly to intake information then regurgitate it. With this form of assessment, the teacher focuses on teaching for the test rather than teaching the content for the students to get a deeper understanding and transfer it to real life situations through creativity, cooperation, critical thinking, and problem solving etc. In order to cultivate the competencies required to be the Ideal Caribbean Person, education in our country must adopt assessment practices that focuses on more than the retention of information, but assessment that also reflects the general development of the student and their ability to demonstrate and transfer knowledge learned in the classroom to real life situations, and also display he skills learned in the necessary environment. An example is where a student taking foreign languages may be assessed by creating a scenario where they are attending an international summit in a foreign country and they must act as interpreter for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This allows the student to demonstrate his/her ability with the language in a real-world situation and provides a true assessment platform of their knowledge and use of the foreign language.
The final way in which education in the federation can cultivate the competencies necessary to be Ideal Caribbean Person is through engaged learning by integrating technology in the learning process. Callender (2012) stated that the Ideal Caribbean person is one who applies science and technology to creative problem solving. Jules (2011) in his article in the Jamaican Gleaner echoed that information and computer technologies have completely changed the game for education. He further stated that content will give way to competence. By integrating technology in the education process here in the federation, we will be creating an environment where critical thinking and problem-solving skills are developed using all forms of technology. It also important that we utilize the many technological platforms that our students are constantly using to help develop these skills. Teachers should be trained effectively to integrate technology into the classroom.
In conclusion, the competencies associated with the concept of the Ideal Caribbean Person are important for us as a federation on many different levels. It is important that our education promote these competencies and therefore use practices to achieve such results must be invested in our education system. Having a philosophy of education, an action plan, using the appropriate assessment tools, and integrating technology in the learning process are all essential to the idea of the Ideal Caribbean person.