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Prioritise investment in higher education, Holness - Beckles

Published:Saturday | March 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Poyser

Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor Hilary Beckles is adamant that the prosperity that Prime Minister Andrew Holness seeks for Jamaica can be found through greater investment in higher education.

"The prime minister is correct. Jamaica needs an education revolution at all levels, but moreso at the tertiary level, where it is connected to research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Jamaica needs a significant investment in the higher-education plant to give it the push that is now required to the higher-level development," he said while addressing a press briefing.




Beckles was commenting on the inaugural address of Prime Minister Holness, who was sworn in last Thursday.

"The prime minister laid out a vision for a radical transformation in the use of the skills of the Jamaican people for development, and I sat there stimulated by all of that because the University of the West Indies certainly would wish to give effect to that. Our strategy, therefore, has to enable each government to achieve that target," he said.

Beckles disclosed that the leadership of the regional university would be seeking audience with the prime minister to discuss the role that the UWI can play in realising sustained economic growth for Jamaica.




"We are looking forward to meeting with the prime minister to talk about how we are going to strategically plan for this investment in education, innovation and entrepreneurship to give the economy the leap it is looking for. This is a very exciting time for the university ... to be at the centre of the next major transformation of the Jamaican economy," Beckles said.

"We hope to work very closely with the prime minister and the Government in giving Jamaica that educational revolution that is required," he said.

Speaking to what he calls a tendency of governments to view the subventions to the university as an expenditure, Beckles said: "We do not see it as an expenditure. We see it as an investment in the human resource, in economic productivity and research."

According to Beckles, "Anyone who looks at the Jamaican economy today can see that three things are required for the Jamaican economy: greater diversification of the economic sectors; greater competitiveness of each sector and greater innovation. That process requires a greater investment in research and applied innovation, so the university, is, therefore, best poised to make that intervention with the private sector, industry, and academia coming together to create the matrix for this transition."