Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Bahamas is in Need of Knowledge-Intensive Services... Education System has to Change

                        Kevin J. Alcena, Ph.D. (Developing Economics)
                            “Deo adjuvante, non timendum.”
                        “With God as My Helper, I have nothing to fear”

For the Bahamas to have a strategical paradigm shift of this economy, as that of a Silicon Valley, the entire educational system has to change.  “Among the key strengths of the Singapore education system are the bilingual policy, emphasis on broad-based and holistic learning, focus on teacher quality and integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into the classroom. It is also believed that the schools should work closely with parents and the community.

In Singapore, they are constantly working to enrich and transform the learning environments of their students and to equip them with the critical competencies to succeed in a knowledge economy. A key thrust is the integration of ICT into lessons to enhance students’ learning.  Additional funding and resources enable schools to seed innovative teaching methods. A group of ‘future schools’ are partnering industry players to use state-of-the-art technology to pilot new teaching and learning experiences.

Parents’ involvement in Singapore is valued, and support for school programmes actively encourage parents and the community to work together with schools to help the children learn better.”

“Education is the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent.” (John Maynard Keynes)

“No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable. ” (Adam Smith)

In an article “Comparing U.S. and Chinese Public School Systems” by the University of Michigan:

“Both U.S. and Chinese school systems have strengths and weaknesses. This website proposes that there are three core strengths of Chinese schools over American schools:

1.Teachers in China are given more respect than teachers in the U.S. [12]. For example, teachers do not [pay] taxes on their salary, and they receive their own national holiday, Teachers Day, on September 29th [12].
2. Chinese schools have a hard work ethic, resulting in student success.
3. Chinese schools do not segregate high achieving students from lower achieving students through tracking levels, like in the U.S. This is mostly due to the belief that all students can succeed if they put in the effort.”

The article further stated that “the U.S. education system has one core strength over the Chinese education system including U.S. institutions of higher learning. U.S. universities and colleges are the best in the world. Students from all over the world come to receive a high quality education in American universities.”

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”  (John Maynard Keynes)

One can huff and puff to the ends of time but the most critical component in diversifying the Bahamian economy is not intellectualizing or articulating but literally having a systematic approach to innovative system-thinking in regards to education and eliminating the draconic system that we inherited since post-independence.  It is not working and we need to change it by introducing innovation and creativity in our educational system in order to have the paradigm shift in our emerging economy.

Silicon Valley is a success story because of the surrounding universities, particularly Stanford University, that compliments the system-thinking phenomena known as the geek world.  Therefore, we need a system in the Bahamas that compliments thinking out of the box.  That is how Facebook, Nanotechnology, Google and many others were discovered.   Basically, government does not create jobs, but innovation creates jobs.  Governments compliments the environment; that is what China did and that is what the U.S is doing now.

In an article dated May 12, 2011, entitled “Irrational exuberance has returned to the internet world: Investors should beware”:

“Facebook and Twitter are not listed, but secondary-market trades value them at some $76 billion (more than Boeing or Ford) and $7.7 billion respectively. This week LinkedIn, a social network for professionals, said it hopes to be valued at up to $3.3 billion in an initial public offering (IPO). The next day Microsoft announced its purchase of Skype, an internet calling and video service, for a frothy-looking $8.5 billion—ten times its sales last year and 400 times its operating income. And those are all big-brand companies with customers around the world. Prices look even more excessive for fledgling firms in the private market (Color, a photo-sharing social network, was recently said to be worth $100m, even though it has an untested service) or for anything involving China. There has been a stampede for shares in Renren, hailed as “China’s Facebook”, and other Chinese web giants listed on American exchanges.”

An article written by Charles R. Geisst and published in The Washington Post noted that “Facebook’s Friday IPO, which opened with a staggering $104 billion valuation for the company...”

The Bahamas needs to adapt the New York State model.  There must be a systematic process to growth.  The same old will not do.  The Government must be innovative enough to put together a think-tank group to come up with innovative ideas.  There has to be a total paradigm shift in order to adapt this model.  We have the brain power and know-how but we need the collective effort.

“Every man lives by exchanging.” (Adam Smith)

In an article by Sonia K. Guimares, entitled “International Entrepreneurship in an Emerging Economy” that was published on March 14, 2012 it is stated that:

“The economic development of a country depends today on qualified integration into the world economy. In the past, internationalization tended to be restricted to large companies. Today, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have become involved in the global market in a variety of ways. The growing internationalization of the small and medium size firms has stimulated the creation of a field of studies aimed at understanding this new phenomenon, the so-called “international new ventures”, “born global”, “global start-ups” or “international entrepreneurship”. The internationalization of these firms is based on singular features: their operations and strategies are not the same as the large firms, as they are not the same as the firms that remain on the home market. Internationalization requires small and medium size firms to mobilize different kinds of resources (economic and social) that uniquely impose greater degrees of risks and indeterminacy. In the past, small and medium size firms tended to be seen as victims; at present, they are seen as ‘players in the game’ (Ruzzier et al., 2006).

Indeed, as a result of shifts in technology manufacturing and knowledge-intensive services, a worldwide restructuring is taking place. This can be demonstrated by comparing data on world trade for the periods spanning 1980-1993 and 1994-2008. Data show a significant increase in the annual average of global export – from 3.6 percent to 7.8 percent (International Monetary Fund, IMF, as cited in Nonnenberg, 2011) – as well as a change in the kind of goods and services exported: there has been expressive growth of high technological goods and knowledge intensive services while labor intensive goods have suffered a reduction (from 40 percent of the total, in 1980, to approximately 29 percent, in 2008). A shift in the flux of world trade can also be observed, with export of medium and high-tech goods and services increasing at higher rates in the emerging economies (resulting primarily from Chinese and Korean performances) than in the developed economies. The nature of international operations has also changed: in addition to export and/or commercial activities, these operations now include partnerships and contracts with other enterprises for manufacturing or assembling processes, for distribution, maintenance, after-sale support, and for brand transfer and franchises abroad.”

In another article by the New York State's High Tech Economy: Empire State Development, it is noted that “New York State has rapidly become a world class technology center that fosters innovative ideas and pioneers programs focused on bringing the most advanced cutting edge technological products to market.

New York State has pursued the following innovative initiatives to foster technology growth:

 Invested $117 million in the development and commercialization of high-technology and biotechnology innovations;
 Allocated $280 million to increase the availability of venture capital for emerging businesses;
 Assigned $1.7 million to the newly created Empire State Technology Employment Incentive Program to help employers attract highly-trained technical workers;
 Created financial incentives for businesses, such as the Qualified Emerging Technology Employment Credit and Qualified Emerging Technology Company Capital Tax Credit.”

“Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions.” (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations)

“All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.” (John Kenneth Galbraith)

To be continued…