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Letter of the Day | Put Ruel Reid out of his misery

Published:Sunday | August 6, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Despite what critics may say, the present administration is doing reasonably well. Prime Minister Holness is actually serious about reducing crime, and macroeconomic targets are on track.

Minister Andrew Wheatley is also positioning Jamaica as serious place for scientific research with his intention to establish a science park. But Mr Holness should differentiate himself from his predecessors and fire those who are no longer able to perform. In the context of the present Cabinet, no one is a bigger disappointment than Ruel Reid.

Like previous ministers of education, Reid has discussed the need for a transformation of the education system in the areas of science and technology. However, to date, Mr Reid has not done or said anything to ensure that this dream becomes a reality. For example, there are no plans for Jamaica to have actual STEM academies like those present in New York or Singapore. There is also no talk of expanding the mandate of the National College of Educational Leadership to place a greater focus on the training of middle managers in schools.




Mr Reid has only been adept at profiling and getting involved in the internal issues of schools that do not require the input of the minister.

Furthermore, in his quest to be seen as champion of the poor, he is supporting some really stupid policies. Schools can barely survive on the subvention that they receive from the Government; hence the reason for fees. Therefore, when the minister prevents schools from charging these fees and insists that parents should not pay them; he is only forcing poorer schools to scale back some of their programmes.

Reid may be advocating for what some would call a pro-poor policy, but analysis will indicate that it is anti-poor and will actually hurt struggling institutions. For example, when I was in high school, this fee was over $20,000. Some parents would refuse to pay it, but there were enough persons who could pay it to keep the institutions afloat.




Luckily, the children of CEOs attended this institution and they could use their influence to gain sponsorship for programmes. Most schools in Jamaica are not that lucky, and Reid's no-fee policy will hurt the poor people he wants to help. In addition his decision to have the Ministry of Education to pay for eight CSEC subjects for students on PATH is also not sensible.

Mr Reid should revert to the original policy in which the Government will pay for maths, English and a science subject, irrespective of the students' grades, with the private sector sponsoring business subjects. The reality is that this policy is a big risk, since many students either fail CSEC exams or do not show up to sit them.

Further, poor people need help, but they should not be encouraged to abdicate their responsibilities to their children. The performance of Mr Reid suggests that he was clearly promoted to a position beyond his level of competence.