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Take the politics out of education, urges Tufton

Published:Tuesday | January 29, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Tufton ... because the JTA is so powerful and influential ... there are times when the political sides use them as a leveraging tool for political advantage. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

DR CHRISTOPHER Tufton, co-executive director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), is calling for the depoliticisation of education, arguing that a social partnership in that sector could transform Jamaica in the next 10 years.

Batting for education to be placed high on the list of priorities for the country, Tufton said at a time when there were calls for consensus around the economic crisis facing Jamaica, "we should decide on a path that transcends political cycles".

He wanted politicians to take politics out of education and desist from making it an item on political platforms.

"When election time come, we are not talking about education on the political platform, because we have a programme and the proposed minister of education on both sides will say we are sticking to that programme," Tufton proposed while speaking yesterday during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's office on North Street in central Kingston.

"Leadership can drive consensus at the policymaker's level and engage all the stakeholders and say, for the interest of the country, we have to compromise where we have to; we are going to make sacrifices where we must, but we are going to chart a course with periodic assessment to make sure we are on the right track," he added.

Tufton urged the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) to come onboard in the move toward a social partnership.

He conceded that the JTA's participation was critical as it had at its disposal 30,000 voters and key influencers.

According to Tufton, "Because they (JTA) are so powerful and influential ... there are times when the political sides use them as a leveraging tool for political advantage".

System can be streamlined

He said the JTA also uses politicians "in their leveraging and negotiations".

Clayton Hall, president of the JTA, said while his association was not eager to give up any of the rights and privileges earned over many years, he believed the education system could be streamlined with consensus.

"Certainly during my time within the leadership of the association, we have come to the recognition that there are issues of compromise that are necessary if we are going to be achieving a particular growth pattern," he said.

Hall was critical of respective administrations for wasting "huge resources" in the area of policy reforms each time a new government was elected.

"The issue we have in education in Jamaica is that we reform educational reform every five years," the JTA president said.

CaPRI recently published its 'Report Card', a study on the performance of Jamaica's education sector.