State funding coming for all students up to 18 years - Reid
The government has devised a plan to fully fund the educational cost for all students from birth through to their 18th birthday, over a three-year period, Minister of Education Ruel Reid has said.
"I am now trying to get us to this bold statement of 'zero to 18 public free education' strategy that gets all our students up to the minimum of having an associate degree that will be paid for by the State. That is the policy position that I am articulating," Reid said.
He was addressing the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica annual conference at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay, St James, yesterday.
"When I go to Cabinet on Monday (January 14), I will say to the prime minister: 'This is going to be our contribution. This is how we are going to revolutionise Jamaica to make sure that we have every one of our young people trained and certified at least to the minimum of an associate degree, facilitated through the collaboration of the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica'," the minister emphasised.
Reid revealed that the State is seeking to rescue the nation's youth who are unable to pay for their education and the fact that 50 per cent of the 1.3 million persons who are now employed in the country's workforce do not have the required qualification and training.
"If 50 per cent of your population is on PATH (Programme of Advancement through Health and Education), depending on Government, and you want all these persons to get at least to an associate degree, tell me, advise me, what do you think the State should do?" the education minister asked.
"Come on! You have to think bold. When you have a problem, how you are going to solve the problem is to think outside the box. It is the blue ocean strategy that I am trying to get our tertiary students to understand. It is not rocket science because Barbados has done that."
He continued, "I have said to Permanent Secretary [Dean-Roy Bernard], we are going to work with you (Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica) to operationalise that. We are not going to put it on you this year, but we are going to show you, mathematically, how it can be done on a phased basis over the next three years because we have to write to the Ministry of Finance and give them a three-year notice to fully implement it."
According to the education minister, several years ago, 70 per cent of those on PATH would graduate from school without any form of qualification and get a job, but that is no longer possible with the revolution in education.
"If we do not empower them to align with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, then they are going to have their own revolution because every one of these young people - when they leave school and have no answer, have nowhere to go - becomes a liability to the State," Reid continued.
"And, therefore, it makes sense for the State to come together and make sure that every one of these people is rescued."