President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Ruel Reid, has stressed that for the country to progress with confidence in the 21st Century, there must be transformation of the education system, with opportunities provided for all Jamaicans to be educated and trained to exceed minimum standards.
Mr. Reid was addressing the Sandals Montego Bay hotel’s quarterly staff awards ceremony, held on the grounds of the hotel on January 26. Pointing out that Jamaica has already achieved universal early childhood education and universal primary education, he underscored the importance of children staying in school up to at least age 18, with equal opportunities for a tertiary education. “We must provide opportunities for all our children to be in school until age 18 and also provide universal tertiary education. Currently, only about 86 per cent of our children have full access to secondary education, as too many children are out of school by age 15,” he said.
Mr. Reid noted that only 21.4 per cent of the nation’s children had access to tertiary education, pointing out that in the new world order, the tertiary education he was speaking about, was not necessarily university education, but all post secondary training. “So all advanced studies in tourism, nursing, mechanics, technical and vocational areas are considered tertiary education,” he explained.
The President said he believed in life-long learning, and argued that education should also mean that one’s experience on the job must be part of the certification. He commended the HEART Trust/NTA for adopting that philosophy. Mr. Reid said Jamaicans were living in a world of benchmarks and standards, and pointed out that the real competitive advantage of any country is determined by the quality of its human capital.