Fri | Oct 22, 2021

Get educated and demand more

Published:Friday | September 25, 2015 | 3:24 PM


I recall when Jamaica entered into an arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a few years ago. I figured we would have been good for the first couple of tests and no more. Well, we have passed the ninth test and no doubt should be successful in the remaining three. We have to give credit where it is due, but my real concern is post-IMF. We have achieved some of the targets, but unemployment remains high; production is down; the dollar continues to slide; disposable income is eroding; our health and school sectors are in a bad state; crime is up. We are moving in the wrong direction. These ills can easily negate the gains that have been made so far.

I maintain that the way to improve our country is to first educate our people. Improving the secondary and tertiary schools will amount to nothing if the state of the infant and primary schools remains the same. In manufacturing, we say 'Quality in, quality out. Garbage in, garbage out'. I view the present education system as a big conveyer belt moving along with the students irrespective of their performance. I remember when I attended school in the late 1970s and cannot recall anyone in my cohort who was not able to read and write relatively well. Nowadays, the vast majority of graduating students are barely functionally literate. I always thought that we should progress and not regress with time.


Lack of education always results in poor governance. The politicians know that they can get away with practically anything without being accountable. The 'articulate minority' who stand up and question them are ignored. Some years ago, I spoke to a man and asked him how he planned to vote in the upcoming election. His answer was simple: "I understand issues." The conversation ended there.

On another occasion, I met a middle-aged man the day after an election. He was celebrating his party's victory while begging me "a money". I suspect that he is no better off today and still voting the same way. Which one of these men do you think that the politician 'loves' more?

We all need to get engaged by exercising our franchise. The world is run by those who show up. We cannot sit back and complain about bad government. We need to stop practising subjective politics and be more objective. A government that is not delivering must be sent a clear signal that it will not be tolerated and will be voted out. Party loyalty should be a thing of the past. We must not be content with other people's success, but we must now want it for ourselves and our families. Demand more!

Andrew Gray