Current Affairs

Current Affairs




The major parties' stand on tertiary education
Observer Reporter
Thursday, September 19, 2002



Students on the University of the West Indies' Mona campus.

PNP says it will widen access

THE PNP administration has created more access to tertiary education with:

* Establishment of distance education centres in Ocho Rios and at Bethlehem Teachers' College;

* Increased enrolment in community colleges through the establishment of "satellite" campuses at existing community colleges at:

- Knox in Cobbla and May Pen;

- Portmore in Old Harbour;

- Brown's Town in St Ann's Bay;

- EXED in St Thomas

The next administra-tion will:

* Increase the availability of tertiary level academic programmes nationally.

* Continue to reduce any geographical disparities that may restrict educational opportunities.

With the democratisation of education and widening of access, the post-independence Jamaican is far more likely to have had a secondary education than would his/her parents. Yet too many of this post-1962 generation have not completed the five-year programme or have no marketable skill.

There is, no doubt, a direct relationship between possession of a skill, ability to earn and an improved quality of life. The HEART Trust/National Training Agency (NTA) is responding to this need by opening up new opportunities for personal advancement of Jamaicans.

In the next term, we will:

* Introduce a High School Equivalency Scheme by 2003 so that those who wish to re-enter the training system can have the opportunity to obtain the requisite qualifications.

* Continue to provide vocational training opportunities through the National Training Agency, HEART Trust/NTA.

* Implement a diploma programme in Entrepre-neurship and Business Development at the Vocational Training and Development Institute.

* Expand training opportunities in Information Technology and Tourism and Hospitality skills.

*Expand the National Youth Service.

The People's National Party commits itself to continue to work in partnership with all stakeholders in education -- parents, students, caregivers, teachers, administrators, the private sector, churches, and community organisations.

JLP promises improved funding

THE Jamaica Labour Party says that if it is elected to office it will:

* Extend the moratorium period for student loans to tertiary institutions, extend repayment, and introduce a graduated loan repayment programme to gradually increase repayments from minimum to maximum levels over the years.

* Introduce a programme of community or government service as a repayment option to encourage graduates to serve their communities (eg, by teaching in the inner city or poor rural area schools).

* Improve loan repayments by requiring payroll deduction by employers where possible and improve methods of tracking delinquents to collect arrears or impose sanctions.

The party also says it will expand training opportunities by:

* Expanding the number of HEART academies (eg, build a new IT academy in Mandeville and a tourism academy in Montego Bay).

* Restore the HEART training from six months to the original one-year period.

* Formalise and strengthen relationships with Jamal, churches and schools idle during the summer to provide expertise and space for literacy classes for children and adults as well.

* Establish a high school equivalency exam (similar to GED in the US) to be offered also in prisons.

* Provide parents with the performance results of their children and school in the NAP to raise the accountability of schools.

* Reduce the average teacher to pupil ratio from 1:35 to 1:25 to ensure that students receive adequate attention and focus.

* Ensure that guidance counsellors are assigned to all primary schools and basic schools to identify students in need of greater emotional support and guidance.

* Work towards ensuring that every school has at least one qualified guidance counsellor and that bereavement counselling is part of guidance counsellor training.

* Ensure that all students are covered by health insurance.

* Include community service as a mandatory part of the curriculum from primary school through tertiary level.

* Ensure that instructors at teachers' colleges have at least a Master's Degree. Include special education and peace education theory and practice as an integrated part of teacher training programmes.

* Increase student exposure to arts and music through increased collaboration with the IOJ, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, other museums, the Ministry of Tourism, and other strategic government entities.

* Provide intensive use of wireless computer technology to enrich the curriculum.

* Increase the use of television, radio, and newspapers as effective teaching tools in schools and train teachers how to use these tools to facilitate learning.

* Increase the capital budget in education to finance a school upgrading programme to:

(1) build new basic schools;

(2) expand and improve school buildings and grounds;

(3) provide proper desks, books, and other computer facilities;

(4) expand secondary schools as required to accommodate additional space for the 16-18 age group as necessary; and

(5) ensure that all schools have adequate sporting equipment including playgrounds for physical education, as well as materials for music and art.

* Implement a pilot project to determine the feasibility of introducing school zoning to reduce travel time.

* Increase the education budget by 50 per cent from 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the total budget.