JIS News

Executive Director of the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), Edward Shakes, is calling for more resources to be invested in adult education.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ session, at the Agency’s head office in Kingston on August 27, Mr. Shakes voiced concern about the limited support which adult education currently receives.
“One of the concerns, certainly in the Caribbean, is the low level of funding that is given to adult education. The truth is that we need to increase the amount of resources that is given to adult education, as a dollar invested in adult education is going to bring immediate returns,” the Executive Director informed.
Noting that the JFLL’s contribution represented “a very minute percentage of the total education budget”, Mr. Shakes said increased assistance from other sources “is something that has to be considered.”
Mr. Shakes pointed out that, investing in adult education is a worthwhile undertaking, as it will, ultimately, redound to Jamaica’s social and economic benefit.
“Generally speaking, if you invest in adult education, it brings immediate returns to the economy [as] it impacts a lot of the dysfunctional behaviour that we are having. It makes people more productive, it improves productivity in the workplace, people become more employable, people get jobs, [and] they pay taxes, and therefore, the return to the economy is immediate,” he explained.
Given the importance of and the benefits to be derived from adult education, Mr. Shakes said he is determined to remove the stigma associated with adults, who are unable to read and write, that they are unintelligent.
“This thing with adult education and adult literacy, it is not associated with not being intelligent, it is simply that, if you can’t read and write, you just don’t have the skill. It is the same thing if you can’t drive, or speak Spanish, or whatever,” the Executive Director stressed.
He further said that: “If you can’t [read and write], come in and enroll in our classes. We respect you, regardless of whatever level of education you have. It is not something for you to be disrespected, it is not something for you to be ashamed of.”
To this end, Mr. Shakes is making a special appeal to all adults who can’t read and write, especially parents and those who are members of Parent/Teachers Associations (PTA), to come in and empower themselves.
“One of the challenges that they have in the school system, is that, unfortunately, sometimes the parents can’t assist the children. Coming in and being able to read and write, will empower you to assist your child in school with their homework, and, at least, enable you to read the correspondence that comes to you from the schools. The JFLL is providing another opportunity for you,” he stated passionately.
The Executive Director, also revealed plans to partner with the National PTA, to address the issue of parents who are unable to read and write.
“We are discussing with the National PTA, to see if we can introduce an initiative, to deal with those parents who need remedial education,” he informed, adding that the move would redound to the benefit of the students.
The Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), formerly the Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL), was incorporated in October 2006, with the mandate of training an educated, knowledge-based population, which is empowered through lifelong learning, and provided with opportunities to take responsibility for their lives and contribute positively to the social, moral, and economic development of the country.