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GROUP CHAIRMAN'S BLOG
Articles & Columns Published in the Jamaican Sunday Gleaner by Dr. Winston Adams

Targeting Dreams: Higher Education And Student Loans (Pt 1)

Targeting Dreams: Higher Education And Student Loans (Pt 1)

July 16, 2017

The fast-growing importance of higher education across the Commonwealth and the world at this juncture can hardly be denied. All countries - developed or developing - are using it for some purpose of utmost significance, whether it is as a support for democracy or as the driving force for the economy.

Despite the universal recognition of its importance, higher education (or the more comprehensive term, tertiary education) is plagued everywhere with some financial constraint or the other. Furthermore, as indicated in a study done by Dr Subhamoy Das, a professor at the University of Calcutta in India, the number of students seeking higher education, especially in the Caribbean and wider Commonwealth, is snowballing at a galloping pace with which the budgetary allocations of the governments cannot cope. The telltale signs of this are now being manifested glaringly in some countries in different forms such as crowded institutions of higher learning, retrograding faculty-student ratios, higher tuition, and other fees.

A handy solution to this financial constraint is cost sharing. The costs of higher education are generally borne by four parties: governments (or taxpayers), parents, students, and philanthropists. At least in Jamaica, the policy is such that at least a portion of the costs of higher education is shouldered by the students and their parents instead of governments and taxpayers bearing the entire amount.

Role Of Tertiary Education Institutions In Fighting Violent Crime In Jamaica

Role Of Tertiary Education Institutions In Fighting Violent Crime In Jamaica

July 30, 2017

Jamaica's murder rate - up by 20 per cent over last year - has many Jamaicans in despair as the atrocious bloodletting continues in our little island. The high incidence of violent crime has tested the mettle of the Government. Its latest effort to tackle the crime monster includes the Special Zones Law recently passed in Parliament. This could, indeed, be one tangible solution.

There has been a steady growth of tertiary education graduates from institutions in Jamaica over the past few decades. Notwithstanding, it is unacceptable that most of the sharpest minds from our tertiary education sector, including its leadership and graduates, are apparently unable to make an even greater contribution in devising more practical and tangible solutions to what nearly all Jamaicans admit is the number one impediment to the economic growth and sustainable development of this country.

However, it is also fair to say that, to some extent, Jamaica's tertiary education sector has been involved in the search for solutions to the problem of violent crime. For instance, there are several relevant degrees, courses and initiatives on offer at local institutions which seek to equip our people with professional approaches to addressing the serious problem of crime and violence. Some of these initiatives include:

Universities A Growth Imperative

Universities A Growth Imperative

March 19, 2017

"No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated."

- Nelson Mandela

 

Former prime minister of Jamaica Edward Seaga often said, "No poor country is educated, and no educated country is poor."

No matter how it is described, leaders across the world have all pointed to education as critical to the economic and social development of any nation.

The need for greater emphasis on higher education in Jamaica has been acknowledged by the Michael Lee Chin-led Economic Growth Council (EGC) in its September 2016 document Call to Action, which listed "poor human capital and entrepreneurship" as one of the main retardants to Jamaica's economic growth.

But the question arises, has Jamaica developed a higher- education sector to prepare a workforce that will fill all the human-resources needs for Jamaica to achieve developed-country status in the shortest possible time?

Are Colleges Preparing Graduates For Entrepreneurship?

Are Colleges Preparing Graduates For Entrepreneurship?

September 3, 2017

JAMAICA'S JOB market is extremely challenging for many graduates leaving universities and colleges. Gone are the days of the 1960s and '70s when students leaving the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Technology (UTech), formerly CAST, had the choice of several attractive positions in the private and public sectors.

Apart from traditional professions, such as medicine, nursing, law and teaching - for which there is a steady annual demand because of migration - many graduates of tertiary institutions struggle to find fulfilling employment. With their numbers increasing, more young college or university graduates are being encouraged to start their own businesses.

It is a fact that, with the increase in information and computer technology, most jobs of the future will not be lifelong engagements with large private or public entities. Rather, these jobs will be of shorter duration with much technology-driven and macroeconomically-driven change and require retraining, upskilling and lifelong learning.

Traditional jobs will be the subject of fierce competition and many graduates will need to create their own jobs and enterprises, or work in teams to do this.

Making Tertiary Education More Affordable

Making Tertiary Education More Affordable

June 18, 2017

Government's recent bailout of hundreds of local tertiary students represented a timely reminder of the imbalance between the potential demand by Jamaican students for the provision of tertiary education and the inability of these students to afford such services.

Recall that in April this year - the onset of the 'exam season' - hundreds of university and college students faced the grim reality of being barred from sitting their final exams because of unpaid tuition fees. This situation has become a recurring decimal each year as more and more students seek to attend tertiary institutions, while being unable to meet the rising costs of such higher-level studies.

Add to this the factor of continuing globalisation, which has driven universities to become business enterprises. Universities everywhere are reducing their reliance on public support and are seeking to become more entrepreneurial. Compare the University of the West Indies, Mona, now to 15 years ago.

Government's injection of $300 million to assist needy students at the UWI, Mona, the University of Technology, and the Caribbean Maritime Institute campuses is a decision that was indeed applauded by the Opposition People's National Party and student leaders.

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