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Letter of the Day: Rethink pitchy-patchy education projects

Published:Sunday | September 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM


The Gleaner, in its editorial on September 10, 2015 titled 'PJ should revisit his Chavez university idea', addressed an important issue in policymaking in Jamaica: from legacy dreams to national nightmares. This approach to establishing new policies and institutions in Jamaica exposes what is wrong with policymaking in this country.

The calls for new tertiary institutions in Jamaica are timely but out of place. There is no doubt that we need more two-year tertiary institutions to provide students with real world-class education for self and national development.

Are these knee-jerk declarations part of a new educational plan for Jamaica? The article, 'Hylton prepares Seaview Gardens for logistics hub' (Gleaner, September 10, 2015), reports that the member of parliament for Western St Andrew announced the plan to establish "a workforce college" in Seaview Gardens.

There is no doubt that the intention is good, but who makes announcement of new educational institutions? We need these new colleges, but who or what decides their locations? What is the position of the minister of education in all these announcements? If I recall correctly, the announcements regarding the use of tablets in school did not come from the Ministry of Education.

The above-mentioned editorial looks at existing tertiary programmes and implies a duplication of roles. This legacy project, conceptually, is not different in purpose from Hylton's Seaview Gardens declaration. Earlier this year, the merger of two secondary institutions in the South St Andrew constituency of Omar Davies was reported. The space created by this merger, according to the report, is the site for a new polytechnic two-year tertiary institution. The principle here has to do with a national plan and the strategic location for such institutions.




These creations must be established within the context of the transformation of education in Jamaica, and not just a pitchy-patchy approach to such important issues. New policies must not only meet the wishes of the lawmakers, but they must be carefully put together.

The process requires rigorous research, grounded in deliberate and wise contemplation. These modern, science-based, two-year tertiary institutions have been established as the most efficient and effective way of producing well-educated and trained workers for jobs and community development globally.

However, these legacy calls reflect what is wrong with policymaking in Jamaica.The tradition has been like this: Someone goes to bed with an idea, wakes up with a dream, which evolves into a national nightmare.

Lastly, Jamaica has 14 parishes, but plans for these important institutions are always focused on the Corporate Area. There is a need to research and discuss the deployment of these two-year community colleges throughout the country, with the aim of social and intellectual re-engineering of this post-slave society.