JIS News

Chief Technical Director of the HEART Trust/NTA, Donald Foster is encouraging school-aged students and adult working Jamaicans to embrace lifelong learning as a means to be professionally competitive in today’s global environment.
“For you to be able to retain your competitiveness, you have to be a learner for life, you have to subscribe to lifelong learning,” Mr. Foster said, adding that “those who stop learning are going to stay home because there is [going to be] no job for you”.
He was speaking at the ‘Top Achievers’ award ceremony hosted by the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, yesterday (September 12).
The ceremony was held to honour seven student beneficiaries of the PATH programme for maintaining academic excellence at their respective schools, and to acknowledge the sterling achievements of parish offices and schools associated with the programme.
Mr. Foster noted that the advent of technology had transformed the workplace environment, and as such, there were “new business processes and new ways of doing things . [so] the only way to cope is through continuous learning”.
“For you to maintain your competitive advantage, you have to move from just knowledge acquisition to being a lifelong learner, as what you learn and know now, won’t be of any use to you in a couple years’ time, so you have to be continuously retooling,” he emphasised.
He suggested that the role of the Jamaican teacher needed to undergo a transformation whereby he or she would “instil a love of learning in our students”.
“That is our job. to tell them to become lifelong learners and so your job is not just the job of a teacher, you have to become facilitators of learning,” the Technical Director explained.
In addition to teachers, Mr. Foster said the roles of principals and guidance counsellors in schools also have to be transformed in order for them to more effectively communicate the necessity of lifelong learning within the classroom setting.
He also called on the students present to embrace some of the softer life skills, such as politeness, punctuality, and teamwork. These skills, he said, were instrumental in one’s professional life as they aided in the development of a good attitude.
“As important as knowledge and technical skills are, it is a good attitude that can take you anywhere you want to go,” Mr. Foster said.
He congratulated the student awardees for being recognised in their academic pursuits, and also lauded the PATH programme in rendering social assistance to those in need.
“PATH is making a very significant and important intervention, which will no doubt redound to the benefit of not only the participants of the programme, but to their families, their communities, and ultimately to the entire country,” Mr. Foster said.
The PATH programme is funded by the Government of Jamaica and the World Bank, and aimed at delivering benefits by way of cash grants to the most needy persons in the society. The programme is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and replaces three major social assistance programmes: Food Stamp, Public Assistance and Outdoor Poor Relief.
All beneficiaries must adhere to certain conditions and therefore, school aged children between six and 17 years are required to maintain an 85 per cent attendance record in school. Other categories of beneficiaries, including the elderly, poor adults, and pregnant women and persons with disabilities are required to maintain a schedule of visits to health centres.
Under the programme, beneficiaries will receive monthly payments of $300 in the first year of the programme, $375 in the second year and $500 in the third year. Payments will be made every two months.