Questions about Audience

Authors are known to almost always write with an audience in mind
(People who they would like to read the book)

It is important to know who the intended audience is. This is so because it helps you to make informed comments on writers’ techniques and evaluate how effective they are if you are clear about the intended readership the author has in mind.

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It is a well-established fact that each child is unique. Each child comes to us with innate talents, abilities… gifts, needed for them to succeed. Yet, we often pause to ponder the question, why so many children are deemed to be ‘failing’-a position normally taken on the basis of the outcomes of academic assessments and comparisons of children’s performances. But is the child really ‘failing’ or is it that there is an omission to take into account his or her individuality when it comes to the content and delivery of learning opportunities presented in the classroom.

Take reading for example. Many children are considered to be ‘failing’ because they are not able to read. However Margret Semrud- Clikeman, in her article, ‘Brain Functions and Learning’, explains that a child is ready to read when his/her auditory system is developed and they are mentally equipped to distinguish one sound from another. In order for the child to become a reader, they must receive instructions. If instructions are not given, the child’s reading is delayed.

As a matter of fact, I feel that it is even more appropriate to say that the child is progressing at his or her own pace.

Taking this into consideration, it is reasonable to take the view that when a child is unable to read, the child is not ‘failing’. The point is that, no one was born with reading strategies. Reading involves skills that need to be taught. If instructions for the teaching of these skills are not being imparted in a manner that endorses inclusion then one cannot make any such assertion of failure on the part of the child.

The individual educational needs of each child are paramount and undisputedly have implications for teaching and learning. A broad brush approach simply will not do. It is important to keep to the forefront of our minds, that in a classroom where the chronological ages of the children are the same, it is erroneous to assume that the children as a group should all be ready for the level of learning expectations articulated in the National Curriculum. Children, simply do not mature at the same rate.

Given this fact, when learning is delayed, one should be very cautious where there is an inclination to arrive at the assumption that the child has a learning disability. It just might be the case that what is needed are differentiated tasks at a level that challenge and present the opportunity for achievement on an individual scale. To do otherwise, is to perpetuate a label of ‘failure’ which for all intense and purposes is false.

The Caribbean Single Market Economy identifies university graduates as a group of persons eligible for free movement among CARICOM states. An educated workforce will be crucial to the development of the region in an era where a vibrant knowledge economy is the success indicator for countries worldwide.

Several factors prevent young people from entering tertiary education and this has implications for the educational level of the workforce and the migration of skills from one country to another.

In Jamaica, the most populous country in the Anglophone Caribbean, for example, gross enrolment rates decline as students move from pre-primary to tertiary level, with the sharpest decline being observed between secondary and tertiary.

Performance in the 2006 Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC), the terminal examination for secondary education and the basic requirement for pursuit of tertiary education, reveals that Jamaica’s students (35,428 sitting mathematics and 37,408 sitting English Language) underperformed in relation to the Caribbean average.

The regional averages of 35% in Mathematics and 51% in English Language point to Caribbean-wide underperformance at secondary level. These two subjects are major prerequisites for entry to almost all tertiary institutions. Failure to achieve success at this level thus denies students the opportunity to graduate from an institution of tertiary education. There is thus no access to the opportunities presented by the free movement of labour provision applicable to graduates.

The productivity of these students as workers in the labour force in their own countries, which must strive to be competitive with the rest of the world, will also be impaired.

In 1997, the Heads of Government of CARICOM set a target for tertiary level enrolment by the year 2005. This target required the doubling of tertiary level capacity and output in seven years – from 7 percent of school graduates at that time to 15 percent.

It was a clear mandate to existing tertiary level institutions to increase access and enrolment, and it presented an opening for other institutions to seize an opportunity to offer tertiary level education.

The opportunity has been seized by a number of local private and foreign based institutions operating within the region, independently or in collaboration with public local institutions. There has been an explosion of tertiary education programme offerings for Caribbean students over the past ten years. This growth has been fuelled by the new information and communication technologies, the increased demand for higher education, and the thrust towards the ‘commoditization’ of education.

The demand in the Caribbean for higher education exceeds the existing regional capacity to supply this education. The demand will only grow as the CSME becomes a reality particularly given the potential for social mobility and career advancement through the free movement of skilled and qualified people. Transnational education is seen as one solution to the problem of increasing demand for tertiary education faced by the countries of the Caribbean: it offers choices to students, and because the state is not involved, the students pay the full fee for their education.

The proponents of the CSME expect that higher education will generate graduates who are oriented towards providing the knowledge base for the development of the Caribbean region.

They will be graduates who understand and are prepared to offer solutions to the unique problems of the region, to address its special challenges, and to provide leadership in the region, even though the provision for the free movement of graduates allows for the involvement of graduates from recognised universities worldwide. Ongoing research pertaining to the CSME must be undertaken to assess its progress and achievements, and to consider its impact, including the impact on gender issues. Such research demands that Caribbean tertiary and higher education institutions serve as reliable resources for national and regional problem solving.