Today’s Editorial March 14: Make vocational training a reality

Big news came out of the Cabinet press briefing Thursday in regards to education.

Under the proposal dubbed Better Pathways, Brighter Futures, students attending Government schools will have to attend an extra year of academic study in the Cayman Islands if they want to successfully graduate.

As it stands now students don’t have to go to Year 12. They can opt out of school at age 16 and, with luck, step into the working world.

Many of us have long called for Government to find a way to ensure that every child that graduates the public school system knows how to read and write. We also think they should be armed with job skills if they aren’t going to pursue a higher education.

Under the proposal the Department of Education would work hand-in-hand with the University of the Cayman Islands to offer vocational training, something that has long been missing in our education scheme.

This isn’t the first time that vocational education has been given a nod of confidence, but we hope it is the last.

By that we mean that it is time to stop talking about providing adequate education for all and do something about it.

For many students, vocational education is the ticket to help bridge that gap between school and a real job in the real world.

Also announced Thursday was the plan to table a bill that would increase the mandatory school age to be eligible to legally leave from 16 to 17.

The proposal will, no doubt, face much heated debate when it is introduced.

But it is our hope that it is well-reasoned, insightful debate and that the outcome is that the compulsory age for leaving school is raised to 17.

While many 16-year-olds look old enough to be going off to university or landing a job here at home, most are not mature enough to handle those responsibilities on their own.

Of course with these proposed changes and plans comes a cost.

It will be interesting to see how Government comes up with a way to fund these measures without increasing the cost of living for all who make the Cayman Islands their home; those of us with school-age children and those of us without.

This isn’t the first time that vocational education has been given a nod of confidence, but we hope it is the last.

By that we mean that it is time to stop talking about providing adequate education for all and do something about it.

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