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Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie, has said that Jamaica had the potential to become the centre of excellence for education in the Caribbean.
Professor Leo-Rhynie, who was speaking at the recent graduation ceremony for some 75 students at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) said that Jamaica could become the source of technical expertise in this hemisphere and pointed to the active recruitment of nurses and teachers by institutions in North America, as examples of the country’s eminence in education.
Turning to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the Pro Vice Chancellor said that Jamaica must have the brainpower to contribute to the productivity of this market. “We must add value to the region’s resources and work to build Caribbean productivity. Without this, the Caribbean will no longer be a place in which its peoples can develop and live and be creative and dynamic,” she argued.
She noted however, that even as the country participated in the single market, focus must be placed on producing goods and services of the highest quality and quantity to effectively complete on the world stage. “Competition in world trade has been heightened by the formation of strong economic and trading blocks, effectively crowding out small developing states such as Jamaica,” she stated.
Meanwhile, she called for more emphasis to be placed on the development of the country’s human resource for sustained growth.
She pointed to Japan and Singapore as good examples of countries that have benefited from investment in their people. “As a small nation with a large population, it (Singapore) saw its population as its natural resource and so set about making this the most productive economic machine possible,” she noted.
The Pro Vice Chancellor said that central to the development of human resources, were adequate education and training and a strong, trained entrepreneurial population. “Your education programmes here at MIND are hopefully doing just that in preparing a cadre of persons who can provide a source of skills to assist in building the capacity of Jamaica to produce and so contribute to national development and growth,” she stated.
She also challenged the graduates and their families to become more involved in volunteer activities to help break the cycle of ignorance and dependency. “We all need to be involved in some form of voluntarism, through the church or through a service club, or through an organisation such as the Red Cross, the YMCA, the YWCA or a youth club,” she stressed.

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