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GDP musings, and GSAT reviews

Published:Sunday | March 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Egerton Chang

Egerton Chang, Contributor

Recently, I wondered what if the world had been consistently growing at a paltry one per cent per annum from the year 1 to now, 2012? How much more it would be better off.

Well, taking the world at 1 AD as 0, the world should be 490,097,714 times better off today (1.01 to the 2011th power).

Given the nature of compounding, this figure grows exponentially. So that even at 1.5 per cent growth per annum, the world today would be 10,074,209,155,338 times better (1.015 to the 2011th power). That's over 10 trillion times improvement.

Of course, that would have come to naught if the world's population had increased as dramatically.

Now the population of the world was approximately 200 million in 1 AD (About.com), while the world's population exceeded seven billion in October 2011, according to an estimate by the United Nations. That's just an increase of thirty-five-fold. Therefore, the per-capita growth would have been 287,834,547,295 times.

HIGHLIGHTS:

1) The average Jamaican is just 32.8 per cent better off in 2010 than in 1966.

2) We are, in fact, worse off now than we were in 1972 when we were 42.7 per cent better than in 1966.

3) The average growth rate over this 44-year period was a deathly 0.65 per cent.

4) The average Jamaican is living (2010) at the same standard as in 1996.

If Jamaica had a steady growth of just two per cent per annum on a per-capita basis, the average person would now be living at almost twice the standard than at present (243.79 vs 132.7).

Or, if we had continued to grow by 6.1 per cent p.a. we accomplished in the first six years of the period (1966-1972), we would be now well over 10 times better off than currently (1,436.13 vs 132.7).

SINGAPORE

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, who attended the May 1975 Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Kingston, was reputed to be very interested, at that time, in the Jamaican model of development.

Lucky thing he apparently took whatever he saw and did the opposite. Singapore's GDP per-capita growth over the same period has been 79 times vs Jamaica's less than 1.4.

GSAT review

My letter to the editor titled 'GSAT, first principles, and the joy of learning', published June 19, 2009, ended as follows:

"Finally, how many of us parents have tried to do a past GSAT paper? I venture to say that those of us that have would confess that some of the concepts/questions involved are damn hard.

"Truth be told, some of these children in grades four, five and six 'work' harder than their parents. Often from seven in the morning to 10-11 at night on school days and frequently on weekends, extra lessons and all."

In my column 'Polls, GSAT and Barbican redux', published November 20, 2011, I quoted the chancellor of the University of Technology, Edward Seaga:

"What is the purpose of pressuring grade four students to learn now what they will learn more appropriately again in grade seven? Two to three hours of homework nightly for eight- and nine-year-old students borders on hijacking too much of the time required for children to enjoy their childhood years. It is time to review the curriculum to remove unnecessary material and duplication. Give back to the children their childhood, and give to mothers (and fathers) time to enjoy them as mothers (and fathers) rather than, as overbearing taskmasters, punishing instead of loving."

Now comes word that a GSAT review has been commissioned.

Anastasia Cunningham, news coordinator, reported on Go Jamaica.com, February 27, 2012:

"The education ministry is to spend $10.3 million to hire a (overseas) consultant to review the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

The education minister, Ronnie Thwaites, said a review of the system is essential.

According to Thwaites, for some time now, there have been several calls for an evaluation, as it was felt that the GSAT had several flaws.

He said he expects the GSAT review to be completed during the course of this year.

And it came to pass.

Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and e_rider69@hotmail.com.

Ja's GDP per capita growth (annual %)

Year Value 1966 =100
1967 0.64 100.64
1968 4.60 105.27
1969 4.36 109.86
1970 10.62 121.53
1971 1.02 122.77
1972 16.20 142.65
1973 -6.98 132.70
1974 -5.67 125.17
1975 -1.60 123.17
1976 -7.83 113.53
1977 -3.62 109.42
1978 -1.06 108.26
1979 -2.18 105.90
1980 -6.99 98.49
1981 1.25 99.73
1982 0.32 100.04
1983 0.06 100.10
1984 -3.23 96.87
1985 -4.25 92.75
1986 0.81 93.51
1987 7.17 100.21
1988 3.72 103.94
1989 6.34 110.53
1990 3.54 114.44
1991 4.14 119.18
1992 1.24 120.66
1993 8.61 131.04
1994 0.60 131.83
1995 1.52 133.83
1996 -1.30 132.09
1997 -2.08 129.35
1998 -3.20 125.21
1999 0.36 125.66
2000 0.29 126.02
2001 0.75 126.97
2002 0.48 127.58
2003 4.70 133.57
2004 0.92 134.80
2005 0.56 135.56
2006 2.22 138.57
2007 0.95 139.88
2008 -0.96 138.54
2009 -3.35 133.90

2010 -0.85 132.76

Source: World Bank national accounts data, and OECD National Accounts data files.