JaRistotle’s Jottings | A tale of two Jamaicas - Part 2
Last week I spoke to how our out-of-touch education system facilitates the societal split that has given rise to two Jamaicas. I closed off then by indicating that there is little doubt that we need an education system that caters to the diverse needs, circumstances and capabilities of young Jamaicans as against one that creates a divide across society and leaves many confined to the pork barrel.
The troubling question is whether or not there is any interest in changing the system or is it by design, to enable division and rule?
Life after high school
While the children of the 'haves' easily move on up out of the pork barrel to realise university opportunities, compliments of mommy and daddy, others, who did well but are not so privileged, join the line at the Students' Loan Bureau.
Tertiary education is not an easy road for the haves-nots. Many fall along the way not for a lack of capability or effort, but for a lack of resources, forever confined to the pork barrel. Others struggle through, and knowing the challenges ahead, become part of the 80 per cent of tertiary graduates who depart our shores in search of better opportunities.
Jamaica ends up getting a 20 per cent crop of tertiary graduates who, unless they are connected, merely end up at the top of the pork barrel, forever fighting to escape. Below them are the illiterate, the unemployed and the unemployable.
Many of the haves-not, whether secondary- or tertiary-educated, wise up and join a political party - that's their ticket to escape the barrel. And once out, they join the throng who wants to keep the majority confined to the barrel. Keep them dunce, dependent and divided so the 'elite' can rule.
At the bottom of the pork barrel are those who are angry, who feel that society has failed them. As far as many of them are concerned, their survival is not assured if they stick to the rules of society - that same society that has repeatedly failed them. They decide to push back rather than embrace society, making life choices based on their realities and how they perceive their survival. They are fully prepared to adopt a life of crime, and with a reported 250-plus gangs operating in Jamaica, recruitment into a gang is a no-brainer. This criminal underbelly is a far cry from the 'No Problem Mon' Jamaica as promoted to the world.
There is no lack of understanding of the gang phenomenon. There is no lack of understanding of the socio-economic factors that give rise to the two Jamaicas. So why the absence of concerted efforts to rid the country of these factors? I don't think our leaders are oblivious to the reality, so there is probably a more deep-seated explanation.
It seems to me that there is an agenda to keep the majority of Jamaicans dunce, divided and dependent. Dunce, divided and dependent, new version of the divide-and-rule strategy so well practised by colonialists: be subservient, vote for me and you will be duly rewarded. Those who speak out face alienation, diminished job security, robbed of the prospect of realising a dignified existence. Others are simply killed.
In an educated Jamaica, politicians would not be able to manipulate society as they currently do. There would be no place for political lackeys. Individuals would have access to opportunities based on qualification, capability and merit.
Social essentials such as water, electricity, garbage collection, usable roads, etc, would be the norm, not political bargaining chips. People would be able to go out and vote according to choice, not coercion; there would be no 'garrison communities'. There would be no place for dons to take on the role of 'area leader': first, there would be no dons, and area leaders would be representatives of choice.
Politicians would be accountable because our civil service would not be the eunuchs they have become; there would be no feeding us garbage to explain political incompetence and misconduct. Elitism, the accumulation of power by a minority, and the abuse of such power, would be a non-starter.
Is this too much to ask, or will it take a revolution to realise a Jamaica where 'No Problem Mon' is not false advertising?
One love, people.