Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, has urged administrators of local private tertiary institutions to ensure that the quality of their courses are of the highest standard.
Speaking at the launch of the Jamaica Association of Private Tertiary Institutions (JAPTI), at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on Tuesday, September 25, Rev. Thwaites argued that the nation needs “every quality educational opportunity that we can get," underscoring that this is the "principle" of the administration.
The Minister cited the "great advantage" to be derived from the provision of tertiary education within the context of what he described as the "zeal for opportunity" in the face of this "burgeoning (tertiary) industry."
"At the same time, it is extremely important that we do not become a place for the purveying of second level and low quality qualifications. We will not demean our standards that have been set by the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ), and now to be underlined and extended by the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (JATEC)," he emphasised.
"We must not compromise on quality; let this be the watchword of your association. If you desire a partnership with the State, in order to advance your enterprises with the highest possibilities for quality being assured, then this is the message and this is the covenant that I bring to offer you. And, insofar as you and your members are able to contribute to this, then this occasion and your existence must be underscored and commended," the Minister said.
Noting that the need for quality tertiary education "is great," particularly within the context of Jamaica’s goals towards developed country status, Rev. Thwaites argued that there has to be, in short order, a virtual doubling of the number of tertiary-educated persons in Jamaica. This, he said, must be facilitated by increasing the number of students matriculating from secondary to tertiary institutions.
However, Rev. Thwaites urged that emphasis be placed on diversifying their offerings, and ensuring that "priority is given to those needs which can inure to the benefit and the upliftment of (the) Jamaican society."
“It is extremely important that the tertiary institutions pay close attention to all the statistics and data on human power needs that we have in this country. You must not end up offering the same courses,” the Minister said.
"We can flourish in a situation where there are particular specialties…and we can have the ambitions of our people (being) satisfied by the various offerings, rather than an unseemly competition to find persons who will enroll, sometimes with limited qualifications, in inadequate programmes," Rev. Thwaites said, while commending the institutions already offering a diverse range of courses.
The JAPTI, which comprises over 30 institutions, was established to, among others things, develop a comprehensive framework for strategic collaboration among private tertiary institutions; facilitate Jamaica's growth and development through education and training; and facilitate a collaborative approach in maintaining and exceeding the established local and international quality assurance standards for tertiary education.