A study of the development of higher education in the Bahamas and its relationship to national goals



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On July 10, 1973, when Independence was granted to the Bahamas, the idea of using education as an instrument of economic and social policy became an established principle in the ideology of the Government. The Ministry of Education and Culture, operating within the framework of Government's policies for the development of higher education, introduced plans whose objectives were to prepare Bahamians for total integration into every phase of the economy, and to restructure higher education programs to meet the needs of the nation. Purposes. The purposes of the study were to identify factors responsible for the development of higher education and national goals in the Bahamas and to investigate whether higher education programs and courses introduced since 1973 supported national goals for education. The objectives were threefold: (a) to provide an historical overview of the Bahamas from 1492 to 1973, focusing on the development of primary and secondary education; (b) to trace the organization of higher education from 1947 through the Colonial era and survey its development and administration from 1973 to 1977; and (c) to show how goals in the "Five Year Plan" for higher education supported National Goals. Procedures. Three steps led to analyzing and synthesizing the data: 1. An historical survey of the Bahamian educational system placed in perspective important events that influenced or affected education during the Colonial era; literature researched on national goals and educational planning served to clarify the role of higher education in national goal achievement. 2. Data from annual reports and bulletins of Higher Education Centers, as well as related programs and courses described in the College Catalogue, formed the basis for support of national goal achievement. 3. Interviews with selected persons provided information indicating attitudes and reactions regarding the stated objectives of higher education and national goals. Findings and Conclusions. 1. Early colonial education recorded slow progress due to Government's inconsistent policy and sporadic provisions of educational services. Several historical events resulted in the economic fortunes and misfortunes of Colonial administration. Changes since 1967 in political and economic spheres reflected improved educational planning and steady progress. 2. Agencies adhering to British traditions provided higher education in the Colonial era which greatly influenced Bahamian education. Changes in philosophy and approach were evidenced in the post-independence administration of higher education. 3. The analysis and synthesis of findings supported the assumption that there was a relationship between higher education and national goals, since 72% of the data supported national goal achievement. Literature researched revealed that Bahamian national goals influenced the development of higher educational goals. Recommendations. 1. Government should adopt a policy of planning for five year periods to ensure that (a) policies and programs are integrated with local and national development goals and (b) community participation is strengthened through awareness and greater involvement. 2. Government should review community service programs , giving priority to training and supporting "self-help" programs for young people who constitute over 65% of the population. 3. Cooperative projects of Ministries of Education and Youth could ensure maximum use of the "sea" by combining education, service, and adventure. An educational ship serving Family Island communities, providing a range of educational and service programs, together with the development of a Bahamas Maritime Youth Corps would provide challenging outlets for young people and inculcate a sense of national unity. 4. The Ministry of Education and Culture should implement positive schemes to make primary and secondary school curricula more relevant to national goals; and should closely integrate with national plans for social and economic development especially in rural development programs. 5. Provision for applied research for educational development should be urgently implemented to strengthen the future basis of progressive educational planning.