The Government is looking to partner with churches and the private sector as it seeks to improve access to and quality of education.
Education Minister, Hon. Ronald Thwaites, in announcing the move on Friday (January 20), said the state will never be able to find the required capital to provide all the spaces and address the shortcomings in the system, especially at the early childhood level.
He informed that meetings will be held shortly with all religious denominations and private sector representatives to discuss how partnerships could be developed.
“It will not be oil, it will not be bauxite, it will not be gold, but it will be the quality of our people that will make the difference going forward,” the Education Minister stated as he addressed the official opening of the International University of the Caribbean’s (IUC) Sir Howard Cooke campus in Montego Bay.
Minister Thwaites noted that the church has a long tradition of contribution to education, especially at the basic school level.
He mentioned a recently concluded agreement with the New Testament Church of God for the establishment of a school in Cedar Grove, St. Catherine. Under the agreement, the church will supply the land and the Ministry will provide the school infrastructure with the facility to be governed jointly by the state and the church.
“This is a good model…I challenge all the religious denominations, all the good congregations, to see that beyond worship, the primary ministry of the church is to promote and strengthen education,” he stated.
He urged those churches that already operate or sponsor a basic school to “make sure that it is a good basic school, and if you have that already, try to start another”.
As it relates to the private sector, Minister Thwaites said investment in education is good business, as it will ensure a quality, educated workforce.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter