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Inadequate education hurting growth potential - Reid

Published:Thursday | September 6, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/ Gleaner Writer


Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid believes if Jamaica is to become a viable, productive force in the 21st century, educational opportunities must be made available to all .

"The reality of Jamaica today is that only 15 per cent of our population has tertiary education, 18 per cent has technical training, and 67 per cent is somewhere between not trained and not certified," said Reid, who was delivering the keynote address at the official launch of the 2018-2019 school year, which was held at the newly branded Knockalva Polytechnic College in Ramble, Hanover.

"We don't have a high productive base, and what is constraining our gross domestic product growth is the quality of production," said Reid, in noting that Jamaica has a low productivity level because only a small percentage of the population has access to higher education.


Full education potential


According to Reid, historically, very little emphasis was placed on education beyond the primary level and as a consequence, many persons have not realised their full educational potential.

"The education system, over the centuries, was only available to a small percentage of our population, largely because the society was focused on primary production not requiring high levels of training and certification," said Reid. "In 2018, we're in the fourth Industrial Revolution, where artificial intelligence is taking over our world, so we have to train our people now for a future that we don't know."

The education minister pointed to the agriculture sector's potential for growth as an example of how education can boost Jamaica's marketability.

"We can use our agricultural production as raw material in a wide range of products and services, not only for local consumption or for tourists, but we can export it to the farthest places, the uttermost parts of the world. For us to achieve that, it is only to be done through education and training," said Reid.

The Knockalva Polytechnic College, formerly Knockalva Agricultural College, was officially rebranded last Thursday and now offers more skills-oriented courses, including tourism and information technology.