Society Demanding More from Education System – Henry Wilson


Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson has said that the society was demanding more and better from the education system, and that Jamaicans at home and abroad shared a conviction that education was the driver for both personal and national development.
She also argued that the majority of persons had recognized that the educational product, “our people”, would be able to compete and advance in the competitive global economy.
Addressing the 10th annual Awards Banquet of the Jamaican Association of Dade Educators (JADE), last Saturday (May 8), the Minister emphasized that the quality of education received in Jamaica was affirmed when Jamaicans moved overseas as, “in many instances, were able to stand on a firmer foundation”.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson explained that education went beyond economic and financial states, to a more holistic approach – moral, wholesome, social and interpersonal relationships, individual empowerment, independence and a gamut of quality of life issues.
She cited access, quality, relevance and equity as the four philosophical planks on which Jamaica’s educational system was built, indicating that the challenge was to close the quality gap “to ensure that all our children have the opportunity to benefit from a first-class education”.
The Minister said that one could get the best possible education in Jamaica, comparable to any first-class institution worldwide.
While expressing the view that the children were capable of competing with any of their peers in any part of the world, the Minister reiterated that they must be grounded in the challenges and realities of Jamaica, so they could develop the knowledge and understanding of problem-solving and innovation.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson spoke of the Task Force on Education appointed in February by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to review the system. This review is seen as the first step in transforming the system with a commitment by the individual stakeholders to making their own contributions through constructive dialogue and exchange.
The Minister also pointed out that significant interventions had been introduced into the system, including an Early Childhood Commission, to define and regulate all early childhood institutions; obligatory registration and licensing of all institutions, such as day care centres and basic schools; and physical improvements.
Staff training and new curriculum at all levels were also included in the interim measures, she added.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson used the opportunity to commend Jamaicans who had excelled in their fields internationally. She remarked that as the world was changing dramatically, Jamaica must be prepared to be a part of the global village.
She also commended the members of JADE, a group of Jamaican teachers residing in South Florida, for their support to the Jamaican Government in promoting excellence in education.
Several Jamaican schools and students have been beneficiaries of the yearly gifts of educational materials from members of JADE, who do an annual mission to the island where they distribute books, instructional and audio visual materials.
Jamaica’s Consul General to Miami, Ricardo Allicock in his welcome remarks, also congratulated the JADE members for their commitment to education in Jamaica as well as to the local communities in South Florida.
A presentation was made to Minister Henry-Wilson for her dedication to the people of Jamaica by Senator Larcenia Bullard and State Representative, Edward Bullard, both of the Florida State Senate and House.

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