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THE GLEANER - Keeping the nation informed on education issues for 180 years.

Published:Sunday | June 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Vision 2030 on education

Vision 2030 reported that as a result of a simulation conducted with the Threshold 21 (T21) Jamaica model, it was found that by combining expenditure on education, infrastructure and national security, the country would achieve a high growth rate, improvements in health, and a reduction in poverty and crime, making education an area of priority for the policymakers.

Similarly, the level of education and training of the society is one of the key variables used by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to determine a country's level of development. It is then the nation's aim that under Vision 2030, we will develop an education and training system that produces well-rounded and qualified individuals who will be competitive in a global context.

In order to achieve this goal, by 2030, our literacy rate for those over 15 years will exceed 98%, and we will provide opportunities for remediation and development of our undertrained out-of-school population.

The average beneficiary of our education and training system will have completed the secondary level of education, acquired a vocational skill, be proficient in the English language, a foreign language, mathematics, a science subject, information technology, participate in sports and arts, be aware and proud of our local culture and possess excellent interpersonal skills and workplace attitudes.

The development plan compared Jamaica's progress with that of similar countries and it was seen that when compared to Singapore, Barbados, Japan, the United Kingdom and Trinidad in 2005, Jamaica has the highest early-childhood enrolment rates and the shortest school year. Conversely, the nation had the highest student-teacher ratio and one of the lowest percentage of budgetary allocation going towards education. While we have the lowest rate of primary enrolment, we fall in the middle for both secondary and tertiary enrolment.

  • In 2008, both the early-childhood and secondary-level enrolment improved by approximately 4%, moving them to 99% and 93.4%, respectively.
  • Many early-childhood development institutions are under-resourced: equipment, personnel, and social and physical environments.
  • The Early Childhood Commission requires that all early childhood institutions should be registered to ensure that they meet a prescribed set of minimum standards.
  • Poor performance of students at the primary level being attributed to under-resourcing, teacher quality and inadequate facilities. 68.9% of students achieving mastery of literacy at the grade 4 level in 2008.
  • Poor performance at the secondary level. 30% of the 2008 cohort achieved grades 1-3 in English language, and 19.9%, grades 1-3 in mathematics.
  • Females are performing better than males and, as such, more females meet the tertiary requirements than males.
  • Poor attendance in schools - average attendance ranged from 75% to 89%.
  • School resource officers trained in 2009 to help to deal with violence in schools.
  • Tertiary education restricted by limited number of spaces, inability to pay, lack of matriculation requirements.
  • Universities are not responsive to demands in the labour market.
  • Tertiary education receives larger budgetary allocation the early childhood, primary and secondary, based on the benefits to the country from investments in tertiary education.
  • Challenges: how to attract and retain quality teachers, given resource constraints and high global demand, modernise and equipping learning institutions.
  • Career education and guidance is limited in scope and must be better integrated into the education and training systems. There is need to carefully map new and emerging careers, and identify opportunities for new entrants to the labour market.
  • Initially, focus will be on the early childhood and primary levels to ensure a strong foundation and reduce the likelihood of failure in higher examinations. Secondary system will focus on the delivery of secondary-level education versus remediation.

The Gleaner on education (Literacy rates only available since 1970)

  • Jamaica's literacy rate was 23% higher than the world's average in 1970 and 14% higher in 1998.
  • In 1958, Barbados boasted the highest literacy rate (although there was no official statistic at this time).
  • One problem contributing to the low literacy rate in 1958 was the lack of teachers and facilities.
  • In 1958, due to the influence of the Church, it was believed that this institution should play a primary role in the development of education in Jamaica.
  • In 1866, there were only 184 elementary schools in the island, receiving a total government grant of £3,000. By 1913, there were over 700 such schools, receiving an annual grant of nearly £70,000. The result was that whereas in 1866 less than 10% of the population could read, by 1913 the literacy rate was over 50%.

The future of education

  • Check to see effects of education in Singapore and Malaysia on long-term development.
  • Increase linkages between tertiary institutions and private sector, particularly in the development of programmes and research agendas. This offers a solution to the misalignment in the labour market demands.
  • Greater collaboration between the private and public sectors and civil society in the delivery and financing of education.
  • Education and training systems must be advanced to ensure that graduates are able to produce world class goods and services.
  • Vision 2030 proposes increased access to tertiary level education while making it more relevant to the labour market. (How will they make tertiary education more accessible?)
  • Students who have left the formal school system without achieving a satisfactory level of education will be given the opportunity to upgrade themselves.
  • Upgrading schools and training plants.
  • Training educators in a manner consistent with current and emerging worldwide educational trends (strengthening of teacher-training institutions needed).
  • Parents will be sensitised to accept their central role in the education of their children (especially during the formative years of the child's life).
  • Proposed outcomes: Adult literacy rate (15+ year olds) from 85.8 in 2012 to 98.3 in 2030.
  • Percentage of population with tertiary-level certification (24+) from 10.10% in 2007 to 37% in 2030.