Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
Should former Finance Minister Audley Shaw win the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leadership race and move on to become the prime minister of Jamaica, underperforming early childhood education institutions would be taken over by the State on phased basis in five years.
The model, which would be a take-off from what entails in Singapore, would be pursued as a way of creating a more accommodating environment for entrepreneurs.
"In Jamaica today, there are 2,500 early childhood institutions but only about 500 of them are running properly, the rest are just glorified mom-and-pop operations - day-care centres, but not schools," said Shaw, while addressing a delegate's rally at the Orchard playing field in Hanover on Sunday.
"We must start (fixing the problem of high illiteracy in our schools) and we must start at the beginning," the JLP deputy leader continued. "Government runs primary schools, Government runs high schools, but Government don't run basic schools, and that is where the problem is."
Added Shaw: "All the private schools that are being run at a certain standard, you leave them alone, but they must conform to government standards ... beyond that, Government will have to take over every other basic school and provide a proper infant school system for every child in Jamaica."
Shaw, who is challenging Andrew Holness for leadership of the JLP, was hosted by the JLP's Eastern Hanover caretaker Paula Kerr-Jarrett. He was supported on the platform by Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, the party spokesperson for education and human resource development; Dr Christopher Tufton, the spokesperson for foreign affairs, foreign trade and investment; and Edmund Bartlett, the spokesperson for tourism and travel service development.
Shaw's visit to the west is part of his campaign team's bid to increase the momentum of their candidate leading up to next month's leadership election.
In addition to his basic school plans, Shaw also indicated that he would be seeking to change the party's constitution to make it mandatory for the delegates to participate in the selection of persons in leadership positions in the JLP.
Over the past 25 years, the JLP has served as the government for four years but has never had an election to appoint the party leader. There have been three such contests in the ruling People's National Party.