THE TERTIARY education sector in Jamaica has taken a major step forward through the collaboration of more than 30 private institutions to form the Jamaica Association of Private Tertiary Institutions (JAPTI).
"Private institutions have been an important part of the Jamaican tertiary education landscape from as far back as we can remember," said Yvonette Marshall, executive director of the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ), during Tuesday's launch of JAPTI at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
"The concept of private tertiary institutions uniting in an association that will enable them to speak with one voice has been around for a long time."
Marshall added: "Conjunctively there is strength in unity and the mission of the UCJ is to increase the availability of quality tertiary-level training in Jamaica through the implementation of a robust, quality assurance system that ensures excellence, transparency, integrity and adherence to standards. This is what JAPTI stands for."
There are more than 30 private education and training providers registered with the UCJ or accredited by a recognised international body. Together they provide more than 54 per cent of the training offered to Jamaican students.
One of the main objectives of JAPTI is to undertake mutually supportive initiatives that guard the viability and sustainability of private institutions.
"It is very heart-warming to note that an important part of JAPTI's objective is to foster quality in tertiary education and training, to link and exceed stakeholders' demands and international standards," Marshall said. "JAPTI is a collaborative approach set at accomplishing quality assurance standards. The UCJ is aware that institutions are at different stages of development, some may be further ahead than others, but we are all on this route together and shall arrive at the same destination."
Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites commended the institutions on the initiative and the importance it plays in ensuring quality education.
He also noted that if the goals for the development of Jamaica are to become a reality, then the number of persons educated at the tertiary level should vastly increase and that initiatives such as JAPTI are contributing to this.
"One of the most important manner in which Jamaican education can advance is for the tertiary institutions to associate themselves through connectivity. We need quality education at every level as that is the principle of the Government of Jamaica. It is extremely important that we do not become a place for the purveying of second level and low-quality education," Thwaites said.