Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has underscored the government’s commitment to the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Speaking at the UWI Mona Campus Council meeting held yesterday (March 2) at the Mona Visitor’s Lodge, Mr. Thwaites said investing in the university adds value to the country and its people, and pledged that going forward, the Ministry will interact with the institution on “every important matter”.
He said that the UWI must be seen “as the intellectual muscle, as the thinking arm of the nation generally and of the Jamaican government in particular,” and encouraged members of the various faculties to make themselves available as consultants to the departments of the Ministry.
“I have seen too many foreign consultants that come to assist us in crafting educational transformation. I respect them all …but I always ask myself, what is it that they are doing that we could not do for ourselves led by the University of the West Indies?” Mr. Thwaites said.
He also invited the university to submit nominations from the different faculties, of persons to serve on the more than 20 boards that the Ministry has to fill.
Turning to the issue of financing higher education, Minister Thwaites informed that negotiations for a Diaspora bonds, specifically for the funding of education, is well advanced.
“We also look forward to the replenishment of the capital sums that will be available for student loans, to take some of the pressure not only off the payment of fees, but also to assist students with their living expenses,” he stated.
The Education Minister, in the meantime, said it is important that the university plays a role in certifying school leavers.
“We need to ask you to help us to determine what should constitute the ingredients of a high school diploma that every Jamaican should have going forward. This business where we send up the best of the cohort for the Caribbean examinations and we give some piece of certificate from the school to the remainder, which cannot be taken to a 21st Century job market, that has to stop,” Mr. Thwaites stated.
He argued that students have to be certified with the equivalent of a high school diploma, which is meaningful.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter