Sun | May 19, 2019

Send me thinkers, Mitchell charges educators

Published:Thursday | March 21, 2019 | 12:05 AM
President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Howard Mitchell, gives a thought-provoking commentary on Jamaica’s governance structure which, he charges, was designed by the colonial masters to keep former slaves in bondage, a system of which the country’s policymakers have been very efficient guardians. The PSOJ boss was speaking yesterday at a HEART Trust/NTA forum in New Kingston.
President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Howard Mitchell, gives a thought-provoking commentary on Jamaica’s governance structure which, he charges, was designed by the colonial masters to keep former slaves in bondage, a system of which the country’s policymakers have been very efficient guardians. The PSOJ boss was speaking yesterday at a HEART Trust/NTA forum in New Kingston.

President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Howard Mitchell, used yesterday’s ‘TVET in Action 2019’ forum, hosted by the HEART Trust/NTA, to send an unsettling message to the country’s educators.

“I have not come here today to tell teachers how to teach. or what to teach, but I can tell you not to send me any more learning by rote, inflexible graduates with 10 subjects who understandably believe that they have climbed the mountain top and now deserve a desk and nameplate, and that they are better than my supervisor who taught himself a trade.

“We need thinkers and doers who can adapt to circumstances, find knowledge on their own, and use data and information to create value,” he told the audience at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew.

Delivering the keynote address on the theme ‘Fostering National Development through Partnerships’, the lawyer and businessman declared that he was by no means an expert on education, but was well qualified, by way of training and business acumen, to make this call.

“I am a relatively experienced businessman with a broad grasp of the requirements of a good business. I know what it takes to start a business from scratch and build it, and I know that the essential component is well-equipped, competent human capital.

“I submit that until and unless we ensure that by the age of 15, each child is able to meet global standards of math and reading literacy, science literacy and financial literacy, we may obtain growth, but we won’t attain development. I maintain that unless and until we have an educational pattern that, as a minimum, enables each child to have appropriate career guidance from primary through junior secondary, and to receive occupational training and certification at the upper-secondary level, so that our secondary-school leavers graduate with CSEC and NVJQ/CVQ occupational certification, we will not have the proper framework for true development.”

The businessman admitted that the private sector needed adjustment and transformation in those human terms, as badly as the education system and the public sector.

Mitchell also turned the spotlight on his role as part of the formula for a sustainable solution.

“As leaders, our first job must be to collaborate where necessary, even if we compete in other areas. In the words of the book of Daniel in the Bible we have, ‘ All been weighed in the scales and found wanting’. It is full time that we recognise that the true path to our nation’s greatness is by cooperation and sharing. Not by division and tearing down. Inequality of opportunity can never result in national development. Growth with a solid strategic map and unity of purpose is not development, and is not sustainable.”

The PSOJ president used the opportunity to remind his audience of the following “few hard facts”.

“Jamaica is a speck on the global map. We have very few material resources to speak of (because) we have depleted our bauxite, mismanaged our agriculture, and are threatening to damage our god-given natural environment irreparably.”

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com