Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Letter of the Day | Tertiary education must be growth oriented

Published:Saturday | December 16, 2017 | 12:00 AM


For the most part, tertiary education in Jamaica is traditional, static and disjointed, for obvious financial reasons, offering many discrete courses that are neither market-sensitive nor market-relevant in a rapidly changing national and global industrial landscape.

The needs of industries are constantly changing, and so must course offerings, to keep in sync with such changes. It does seem to me that many courses that are being offered at our premier universities have greater commercial/revenue considerations for these entities than for the needs of our society. As such, they are not financially viable for students upon graduation. These courses bolster the income stream of universities, but short-change students in quality exposure and relevant training, as also, their quest for a stable and rewarding financial future.

It is clear to me that there is need for an education revolution that incorporates a genuine joined-up approach, integrating courses that are naturally compatible and synergistic in achieving common objectives, instead of offering valueless, discrete standalone 'paper courses' that have neither longevity nor real intrinsic and commercial value.

Therefore, a course in physics should, of necessity, be offered with an intense course in advanced pure and applied mathematics and electronics. A course in law should be offered with business and professional ethics and management studies. A course in international relations should be offered with commercial law, industrial relations and market psychology. And, a course in chemistry should be offered with human and social biology, and environmental ethics and practice.

In other words, as we seek to widen the course offerings, where necessary and relevant, we should integrate practically to deepen them as well, and to give a rounded and valued experience to students, making them more exposed, skilled, marketable and attractive to national, regional and global marketplaces.

This is one of the ways to making the education system more dynamic, relevant and responsive to the changing needs of industries, and to the marketplace, even as it becomes more beneficial and financially rewarding to students and graduates alike.

Rationalisation of the tertiary education system is the most potent means to stop the pain of brain drain, to drive economic growth and development, and to increase the gains.