Rita Marley Foundation links students to university leaders
Finalists from this year's Rita Marley Foundation's Public Speaking competition, and finalists from last year's essay competition, recently got the rare opportunity to have discussions with the heads of the top universities in the island.
Students from York Castle, Wolmer's Girls and Boys, Immaculate Conception High and Jamaica College spent the day having in-depth conversations with Dr Stephen Vasciannie, president of the University of Technology, and Dr Dale Webber, pro vice-chancellor of graduate studies and research at the University of the West Indies.
The meeting with the students was initially scheduled for 45 minutes, but ran over, as the students tackled the leaders about issues affecting the country, including gender bias and discrimination.
Pointing to the differences between the numbers of women in universities to the number of women in leadership positions in the workforce, several of the students argued that the scales continue to be unbalanced as the workforce continues to favour men over women.
Wolmer's Boys' School teacher Karen Gobern, in trying to put forward arguments for the difference in numbers, explained that boys generally enter the workforce before women. She noted that boys are usually more affected by issues at home, and are often looked to as the breadwinner. The latter, she explained, causes many boys to seek jobs at a younger age, and says because of that, the number of men in the workforce will always be higher.
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Urging students not to get discouraged by figures and current data, they encouraged the future leaders to ensure that whatever profession they choose, they should be passionate about it.
Dr Webber, backed by his colleagues Dr Carolyn Hayle (tourism studies, UWI) and Suchetta Stephenson (admin officer, research, UWI), told the students that while education is the best tool to achieve upward mobility, they should do what they love and not focus on the money, or their parents' choice for their lives.
Both Vasciannie and Webber, praised the Rita Marley Foundation for its work with the youth, and encouraged the organisation to continue the good work.