Thwaites stresses value of community colleges
Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites says community colleges play an important role in education and have been preparing students for the workforce, both locally and internationally.
Speaking at the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica's annual conference at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel, Montego Bay, on Wednesday, the minister said that while he is in no way promoting brain drain, he is also cognisant that many Jamaicans go overseas to work and achieve success and have been making significant contributions to nation building.
"A lot of these students go abroad and make something of their lives, while never forgetting where their intellectual navel strings are buried," Thwaites added.
"The task of the education enterprise going forward into 2016 is to instill personal responsibility in taking advantage of the opportunities being offered in education. It is to locate community colleges in Jamaica as never before, as the important riser on the ladder of opportunity," the minister said.
Thwaites said the nation was in a position to affirm that there is a place in some aspect of education for every Jamaican citizen, and that systems are now in place where no one will be denied access to education.
"This administration remains committed to expand opportunities for education and training so that people can add value to their lives. Education is the best thing any government can give people to improve their socio-economic situation," he said.
Thwaites charged administrators to stay in tune with what he called global realities, suggesting that community colleges should align themselves with reputable organisations, both on the local and international fronts, and give their students every opportunity to succeed.
"Do not deny any student who comes knocking at your door the opportunity. They might just want to explore the possibilities that are at their disposal, and we all have a duty to assist. You, the community colleges, can be that great facilitator," he said.
Thwaites pointed out that over the past four years, the nation's taxpayers have contributed approximately $80 billion towards the cost of educating nearly 500,000 students below the tertiary level.
"So, I implore students to attend school every day. Stay in school; don't drop out. If you do, you could fall to criminal activities. Education makes you trainable. Training makes you employable. Employment makes you productive. Productivity makes you prosperous," the minister said.