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The Next 50 Years - Build more schools

Published:Monday | December 10, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Jamaica continues to celebrate 50 years of Independence. We have achieved a lot. However, there is much work left to be done if we are to progress as a country. We must begin to tackle Jamaica's chronic problems in a targeted and sustained way to make this country a better place to live, work and grow families. The Next 50 Years, a special Gleaner series, will spotlight some of the challenges we must fix in the coming years. We want to hear from you. Email us at and join the debate.

WHEN JAMAICA became an independent nation on August 6, 1962, it inherited an education system with an infrastructure that was determined by the elected representatives.

This movement from colonial to a national focus covered access to education as well as the curriculum development.

Notwithstanding critical changes brought about in the 18 years before Independence, the education system inherited in 1962 was a colonial one.

Primary education was largely neglected. Teachers were unqualified, classrooms overcrowded, buildings derelict and support services inadequate.

Secondary education was limited in access, being largely concentrated in the Corporate Area.

To provide places for all students at the secondary-school level, some 40 secondary schools need to be built.

Primary places are also needed as there are currently 26 on the shift system.

If Jamaica hopes to achieve the objectives set out in the much vaunted 2030 vision, we will have to not just think First World, but act accordingly.

To this end, all schools must be equipped to world-class standards and teachers adequately trained to address the educational needs of learners.

The project approach to addressing the perceived needs of the education sector must be discontinued.

Programmes must be evaluated for effectiveness, and policy development in education must be informed by research.