Submitted by William Skinner
Former parliamentarian and minister, Dr. Don Blackman, had promised to demystify economics and demonstrate that we as a society, was holding some rather obscure academics , in very high and essentially unearned esteem.
Our current economic crisis occasioned by external forces and exacerbated by poor internal response, bears out Dr. Blackman’s contention.
Who are we really looking to as saviours of our economy? It certainly cannot be economists who are simply positioning themselves to be the chief beneficiaries, of the current administration or the ones waiting in the wings when there is a change. From the beginning of this crisis, they have putting forward the same ideas and suggestions: more productivity, more innovation, the need to attract more foreign exchange and investment. They bombard us about the importance of speeding up how we do business if we want Barbados to be the “entrepreneurial capital of the Caribbean.”
They never seem to have one creative idea – just spouting the same monotonous rhetoric. They get away with it because, as Dr. Blackman suggested, we have placed them on some mystical mountain. However we should note that at the end of their presentations, they advise that we go back to the IMF. That’s their solution because they simply cannot offer anything else.
However, the economists are not alone. We have educated people in various skills, who have been unable to engineer any creative and social change because at the end of the day, they are still waiting to analyze what the IMF, the World Bank and world health organization decree. The most comedic zenith was reached recently, when a caller, to a popular call in program, suggested that we alert the world health organization to deal with our garbage disposal challenges.
After the Second World War Japan, in order to catch up with the world, placed its emphasis on educating its citizens for what was then the new emerging world economy. They did not seek to produce more economists, they looked for engineers. As was said: “It was better to have a surplus of engineering students than a surplus in law graduates”. The nation’s educational system, said the historian Frank Gibney, describing the rise of industrial Japan, was “the key that winds the watch.” Japan eventually became an economic power house, through education that was relevant, not by parading academics, who are trying to daily upstage each other.
We often argue that the current education system brought us this far. We now realize we need to reform the system so that the next group of economists, engineers and social scientists will be problem solvers. By doing so, we would have “educated’ citizens who can solve problems that exist in such areas as: the economy, garbage disposal, flooding, public health, proper governance, agriculture and the myriad problems that now engulf us. Finally we need to stop believing that we are all going to wake up one day and find ourselves living in a world that must accommodate our refusal to move with the times. Let the demystification begin in the classrooms.