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<<Biblioteca Digital del Portal<<La Educación<<La Educación (120) I, 1995 <<Artículo
La Educación
Número: (120) I
Año: 1995


It is now widely recognized that human resources development plays an integral role in the overall development process. As part of their national development programs, successive governments in Barbados have placed particular emphasis on the development of the educational system. The basic philosophy underlying the development of the educational system in Barbados is that “every child should have educational opportunities of the kind which would allow him/her to make the most of his/her abilities and to contribute to the social and economic growth of the country” (Ministry of Education and Culture 1990, 28). The educational system is therefore expected to provide for the preparation and training of skilled human resources to manage the economy, to facilitate, by means of trained personnel, the generation and advancement of knowledge in pure and applied fields and to perform a consciousness-raising function with respect to the social, cultural, political, economic and physical environment. In effect, the educational system should prepare persons to be innovators, logical thinkers, problem solvers and agents and managers of societal change.

In recent years, development thinking has focused on the concept of “sustainable development” which reflects the relationship between the physical or ecological environment and the economic development process. Economic development can be considered as a multi-dimensional process whereby the needs and aspirations of the people of a country are fulfilled and sustained over time. With the emergence of environmental concerns such as global warming and sea level rise, acid rain, soil erosion and deforestation, water and air pollution and solid waste disposal, it is felt that the socio-economic welfare of future generations would be adversely affected by past and present forms of socio-economic activity. There is a need to re-direct the development process onto a more “environmentally sound” path. A key development objective is, therefore, to ensure the existence of the ecological and general environmental conditions which are necessary to support the socio-economic needs and aspirations of future generations.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of the educational system in the process of achieving “sustainable development” in a small island state such as Barbados. In examining this relationship, there are a number of issues to consider:

i) What is the relevance of “sustainable development” to the educational system?;
ii) what is the impact of “sustainable development” issues on the educational system?;
iii) how can the educational system be used as a vehicle for achieving “sustainable development”?; and
iv) do current trends in the educational system enhance or mitigate against the achievement of “sustainable development”?

Since “development“ is an ongoing process relating to the needs and aspirations of successive generations, “sustainable development” is not a fixed target which when achieved is then forgotten. Sustainable development is a dynamic or intertemporal process which must be assessed by successive generations. Two educational dimensions of “sustainable development” can therefore be identified: a curriculum development dimension whereby environmental issues are incorporated into the learning process of each generation, and a human resources development dimension whereby the educational system provides the skills, training and knowledge for a society to achieve the objectives of “sustainable development”.

The structure of the paper is as follows: the following section will examine the nature of “sustainable development” in greater detail. Section 3 provides an historical overview of educational development in Barbados with special reference to “sustainable development” issues. The fourth section explores the theme “education for a sustainable economy and society,” while the final section examines some implications of the main issues raised.